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SO239 - Bodies, Property and Politics

  • Module code: SO239
  • Module name: Bodies, Property and Politics
  • Department: Sociology
  • Credit: 15

Content and teaching | Assessment | Availability

Module content and teaching

Principal aims

This core one-term module introduces you to some of the main themes in classical sociology. It’s a huge subject. One way of approaching it is to see the emergence of sociology as a response to three revolutions: the intellectual revolution of the 17th and 18th centuries, the industrial revolution that it helped to foster, and the French revolution of 1789, which sent shock waves through Europe that echoed down to the first world war in 1914. The intellectual revolution led people to ask whether it was possible to do a science of history and society as well as a science of nature; the industrial and French revolutions led people to say that some such science was necessary, because the forces they unleashed – new ideas about politics (human rights, democracy, equality) new forms of organization (especially emerging states), new types of social groups and new types of relationships between people – were deeply disruptive of the old European order. Just as science can be driven both by pure curiosity and by the desire to harness nature’s energies for human purposes, so sociology has its ‘pure’ scholars, its partisans and its reformists. The four writers – three European and one African-American – we will look at all combined these qualities. They all offered both techniques of thinking that continue to have some influence, and they were all public figures, concerned with the political, economic and cultural problems of their day. They asked three sorts of question: 1. The big ones: Does history have a coherent overall shape? How does change happen? What holds societies together? 2. Questions of political and cultural diagnosis: what are the major groups and forces at work today? How is politics in the conventional sense affected by social factors such as class, or status, ethnicity, or religion, or the state of the economy? 3. Is social science a science? Some of them thought that sociology could be a science comparable to physics, that laws of social life or of history might be discovered; others were committed to ‘science’ in a more general sense (as systematic inquiry); others just made very confident general statements about social life that can’t be ‘tested’ in any obvious way.

Principal learning outcomes

In the process of developing an advanced understanding of the substantive aspects of generational and social reproduction, students will also acquire the ability to: 1. Assess critically competing identifications of and perspectives on the diverse forms of contemporary social and cultural relations of generation and social reproduction and parenting; 2. Locate, retrieve, process and evaluate a wide range of materials about parenting and social reproduction in (post)modern societies; 3. Evaluate competing explanations and perspectives on the processes and outcomes of modes of reproduction and parenting, drawing on the above range of materials, including cultural representations, using appropriate argument and evidence; 4. Make scholarly presentations verbal and written, on the social and cultural relations of generational and social reproduction and the issues surrounding them.

Timetabled teaching activities

This module will run in the Autumn Term.

Departmental link

Module assessment

Assessment group Assessment name Percentage
15 CATS (Module code: SO239-15)
A1 (Assessed work only) 3000 word Essay 100%

Module availability

This module is available on the following courses:



Optional Core


  • BA in Sociology (L302) - Year 2
  • BA in Sociology (L303) - Year 2
  • BA in Sociology (L304) - Year 2
  • BA in Sociology (L305) - Year 2
  • BA in Sociology (with Intercalated Year) (L307) - Year 2
  • BA in Sociology (with Intercalated Year) (L308) - Year 2
  • BA in Sociology (with Intercalated Year) (L309) - Year 2
  • BA in Sociology (with Intercalated Year) (L310) - Year 2
  • Undergraduate French with Sociology (R1L3) - Year 2
  • Undergraduate History and Sociology (VL13) - Year 2
  • Undergraduate Language, Culture and Communication (X3Q5) - Year 2