Decolonising Modern Social Theory


Modern Social Theory - Lecture 1

Lecturer: Prof Gurminder K Bhambra

Oct. 12, 2021


Modern social theory is a product of the very history it seeks to interpret and explain. In this module, we address the categories that form mainstream sociology in order to reconstruct modern social theory. We focus on five key sociological figures of the nineteenth and early twentieth century – Tocqueville, Marx, Weber, Durkheim, and Du Bois. Our purpose is to expose the significance of colonialism and empire in the organisation of the thought of these writers and, thereby, in the legacies they bequeath to social theory. Addressing colonial histories is a necessary preliminary to the reconstruction of social theory.

Reading

  • Bhambra, Gurminder K. and John Holmwood 2021. ‘Introduction: Colonialism, Historiography, and Modern Social Theory’ in Colonialism and Modern Social Theory. Cambridge: Polity
  • Connell, R. W. 1997. ‘Why Is Classical Theory Classical?’ American Journal of Sociology 102 (6): 1511-1557
  • Mamdani, Mahmood 2018. ‘The African University,’ London Review of Books Vol. 40 No. 14

Modern social theory is a product of the very history it seeks to interpret and explain. In this module, we address the categories that form mainstream sociology in order to reconstruct modern social theory. We focus on five key sociological figures of the nineteenth and early twentieth century – Tocqueville, Marx, Weber, Durkheim, and Du Bois.

Our purpose is to expose the significance of colonialism and empire in the organisation of the thought of these writers and, thereby, in the legacies they bequeath to social theory. Addressing colonial histories is a necessary preliminary to the reconstruction of social theory.

Reading

  • Bhambra, Gurminder K. and John Holmwood 2021. ‘Introduction: Colonialism, Historiography, and Modern Social Theory’ in Colonialism and Modern Social Theory. Cambridge: Polity
  • Connell, R. W. 1997. ‘Why Is Classical Theory Classical?’ American Journal of Sociology 102 (6): 1511-1557
  • Mamdani, Mahmood 2018. ‘The African University,’ London Review of Books Vol. 40 No. 14