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Rethinking the Twentieth Century (SO949-20)

Topics covered

The following is an indicative list of topics for this module; precise seminar content may change from year to year.

  • The tragedy of politics: Max Weber
  • Politics, philosophical anthropology, and the limits of community: Helmuth Plessner
  • The descent into totalitarianism: Hannah Arendt and Claude Lefort
  • The social usurps the political: Arendt again
  • The political in sublimated: Sheldon Wolin
  • Politics as public communication: Habermas
  • Politics and the renewal of democracy: Roberto Unger
  • Democratic institutions and moral resources: Claus Offe
  • The public sphere invaded and defended: Rorty and habermas on religion
Timing and CATS

This module will run in the Spring Term and is worth 20 CATS.

Programme content

This module aims to introduce you to some major statements in the broad area of social and political thought, statements that have proved of enduring relevance to our understanding of politics and society in the 20th century and down to today.

The phrase ‘social and political thought’ sounds innocent enough, but as we will see, social and political understandings of human affairs are not necessarily the same; we will read political thinkers whose work has a strong social element as well as classics of sociology whose work is more political than you might expect.

The material will be organised and thought about by concentrating on two related themes: the institutional relationship between the individual, intermediate groups and the state; and the place of politics within a human life. We will see that much of this material has a bearing on current debates about multiculturalism and social and political integration, religion and politics, and so on.

Module Director:
Charles Turner

Sample reading list (PDF Document)


Politics, Community, and Civic Engagement Research Cluster

Sociology Prospective Postgraduates