Radical Social Theory: Modernism to Postmodernism

School: School of Government
Department: 
Department of Political Science and International Studies

Modular value: 20 credits
Duration: 
Term long 
Contact Hours: 
3 hours per week

Lecturer: Mark Wenman

The aim of the module is to analyse central themes in European social and political theory, from the early 20th Century to today. We approach this through an examination of key thinkers who have each made an original contribution to our understanding of modern society and politics. By scrutinising the work of these major figures in European thought we gain insight into some of the central themes in modern and postmodern theory, including: the key characteristics of capitalism, globalisation, modernity and postmodernity, the study of power and of totalitarianism, the relationship between ethics and politics, the nature of critique, and prospects for radical change. These ideas are also set against an analysis of the main political events and upheavals of the 20th and 21st centuries: from the Russian Revolution, to May 68, the so called ‘velvet revolutions’ of 1989/90, Occupy and the Arab Spring. 

On completion of the course students will be able to:

  • Demonstrate an in-depth understanding of key concepts and perspectives in European social and political theory, and understand the relationship between these ideas and the major political upheavals of the 20th and 21st Centuries. 
  • Engage critically with the work of major figures in European social thought; comparing and contrasting them, as well as evaluating the internal consistency and the practical application of their respective approaches.
  • Critically evaluate a range of themes and issues in European social thought, including: the key characteristics of capitalism, globalisation, modernity and postmodernity, the study of power and of totalitarianism, the relationship between ethics and politics, the nature of critique, and prospects for radical change.

Assessment

  • 1 x 1000 word essay (25%)
  • 1 x 3500 word essay (75%)