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Clement Fakunle
Vikram Singh
Vikram Singh


This course provides an overview of major works of social thought from the beginning of the modern era through the 1920s. Attention is paid to social and intellectual contexts, conceptual frameworks and methods, and contributions to contemporary social analysis. Writers include Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, Montesquieu, Adam Smith, Marx, Weber, and Durkheim.

Over 20 hours of lectures 

Course Structure

This Yale College course, taught on campus twice per week for 50 minutes, was recorded for Open Yale Courses in Fall 2009.

Course Materials

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Iván Szelényi is Dean of Social Sciences at NYU Abu Dhabi. When "Foundations of Modern Social Theory" was recorded for Open Yale Courses, he was William Graham Sumner Professor of Sociology and Professor of Political Science at Yale. Professor Szelenyi, who specializes in the comparative study of social stratification across cultures over time, received his Ph.D. from Hungarian Academy of Sciences in 1973, and is the author of The Intellectuals on the Road to Class PowerUrban Inequalities Under State SocialismSocialist EntrepreneursMaking Capitalism Without Capitalists,Poverty, Ethnicity and Gender in Eastern Europe During the Market Transition (with R. Emigh), and Theories of the New Class: Intellectuals and Power (with L. King, 2004). His most recent book Patterns of Exclusion was published in 2006 and was awarded the Karl Polanyi Prize


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SOCY 151: Foundations of Modern Social Theory by Iván Szelényi is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
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Course content

  • Lecture 1 - Introduction

  • Lecture 2 - Hobbes: Authority, Human Rights and Social Order

  • Lecture 3 - Locke: Equality, Freedom, Property and the Right to Dissent

  • Lecture 4 - Montesquieu: The Division of Powers

  • Lecture 5 - Rousseau: Popular Sovereignty and General Will

  • Lecture 6 - Rousseau on State of Nature and Education

  • Lecture 7 - Mill: Utilitarianism and Liberty

  • Lecture 8 - Smith: The Invisible Hand

  • Lecture 9 - Marx's Theory of Alienation

  • Lecture 10 - Marx's Theory of Historical Materialism

  • Lecture 11 - Marx's Theory of Historical Materialism (cont.)

  • Lecture 12 - Marx's Theory of History

  • Lecture 13 - Marx's Theory of Class and Exploitation

  • Lecture 14 - Nietzsche on Power, Knowledge and Morality

  • Lecture 15 - Freud on Sexuality and Civilization

  • Lecture 16 - Weber on Protestantism and Capitalism

  • Lecture 17 - Conceptual Foundations of Weber's Theory of Domination

  • Lecture 18 - Weber on Traditional Authority

  • Lecture 19 - Weber on Charismatic Authority

  • Lecture 20 - Weber on Legal-Rational Authority

  • Lecture 21 - Weber's Theory of Class

  • Lecture 22 - Durkheim and Types of Social Solidarity

  • Lecture 23 - Durkheim's Theory of Anomie

  • Lecture 24 - Durkheim on Suicide

  • Lecture 25 - Durkheim and Social Facts

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