Theoretical Issues in Sociological Research

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Course TypeCourse CodeNo. Of Credits
Foundation CoreSLS3SC3014

Semester and Year Offered: Monsoon Semester

Course Coordinator and Team: RukminiSen and NiharikaBanerjea

Email of course coordinator: rukmini[at]aud[dot]ac[dot]in

Pre-requisites: None

Aim: This course intends to discuss some key concepts, issues, and ideas in sociological theorizing. The course is designed keeping in view that the research scholars will think through some of these key concepts to shape their work. Structured in a seminar format, intensive reading and collective discussion inform the course pedagogy.

Course Outcomes:At the end of the course the PhD students will be equipped with:

  1. Knowledge of the evolution of concepts and terms in sociology
  2. Critical insight into modernity and the ways in which the discipline has understood its complexity
  3. Reflexivity of understanding the contemporary social world and the ways of explaining it
  4. Ethics and empathy of being a social researcher

Brief description of modules/ Main modules:

Module 1: Sociological theorizing, theorizing sociology

By engaging with individual; social change; self; crisis, this module intends to introduce the discipline through the project of and critique about Western Enlightenment and ask whether there is an emergent sociology in India?

Module 2: Sociological categories and concepts

Through critically exploring the concepts culture; community; citizen, other/outsider; this module engages with the foundational concepts in sociology while taking into consideration the contemporary challenges that the political and legal order makes to the everyday social realities

Module 3: Intersectionality

Identity and experience form the two main concepts through which this module is understood. The fluidity and interconnectivity of identities in which everyday lives are lead and the consequent experiences of these intersectional living. Race, caste, gender and sexuality form the perspectives through which this module explores intersectionality through interdisciplinary readings on critical race theory, feminism, sexuality studies and dalit assertions.

Module 4:Space

Breaking away from a binary understanding of space—public v private or rural v urban this module discusses how space is constantly forming in the local; cities, domesticity, nation, borders, or virtual. What kind of networks gets formed as a result of these ever emerging and transforming spaces in which individuals and groups live?

Module 5: Governmentality

This module makes a deep engagement with state, governmentality, power, bio-politics,

development, and empowerment. By doing this it traverses the political sociology trajectory from state to governmentality and also the critique of it through bio-power. The connected question of the political economy of development and the multiple meanings of empowerment within and outside of the governmentality discourse is briefly discussed in this module

Module 6: Ethical Sociology

This module underlines the importance of an ethical practice of sociology though discussions on sociology and ethics, public sociology, ethics as practice. Questions of ethics and praxis both are very important in the discipline of sociology and the way it is learned and practiced.

Assessment Details with weights:


The assessment structure of this course aims in understanding the ways through which the course outcomes have been met by the students. Each student is asked to conceptualize a theme, which they would explore in their PhD research. They are expected to understand the theme through the concepts and theoretical discussions that this course engages with.

  1. 40% weightage: Presentation of the themed term paper
  2. 20% weightage: Peer to peer participation in discussion during the presentation
  3. 40% weightage: Final written submission of the themed term paper incorporating the feedback that had come during the presentation

Reading List

  • Immanuel Kant. 1784. An Answer to the Question: "Whatis Enlightenment?"
  • Michel Foucault. 1984. What is Enlightenment
  • MahuyaBandyopadhyay and RitambharaHebbar. 2016.Is there a New Sociology in India?
  • David Scott. 2003. Culture in Political Theory
  • SundarSarukkai. 1997. The 'Other' in Anthropology andPhilosophy
  • Joan Wallach Scott. 2012. The Vexed Relationship ofEmancipation and Equality
  • Gopal Guru and SundarSarukkai. 2012. The CrackedMirror. An Indian Debate on Experience and Theory
  • Patricia Hill Collins. 1998. It's All in the Family:Intersections of Gender, Race, and Nation
  • SharmilaRege. 1998. Dalit Women Talk Differently: ACritique of 'Difference' and Towards a Dalit FeministStandpoint Position
  • SaskiaSassen. 2009. Cities Today: A New Frontier forMajor Developments
  • ShilpaPhadke. 2007. Dangerous Liaisons: Women andMen: Risk and Reputation in Mumbai
  • Antoinette Burton. 1997.House/Daughter/Nation:Interiority, Architecture, and Historical Imagination inJanakiMajumdar's "Family History"
  • ArjunAppadurai. 2000. Spectral Housing and UrbanCleansing: Notes on Millennial Mumbai
  • James Ferguson and Akhil Gupta. 2002. SpatializingStates: Toward an Ethnography of NeoliberalGovernmentality
  • Aradhana Sharma. 2006. Crossbreeding Institutions,Breeding Struggle: Women's Empowerment, NeoliberalGovernmentality, and State (Re)Formation in India
  • Veena Das. 2012. Ordinary Ethics
  • Judith Butler. 2012. Precarious Life, Vulnerability, and theEthics of Cohabitation