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Theory Review

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Created: February 24, 2002
Latest Update: February 24, 2002

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A Race Perspective

Copyright: Jeanne Curran and Susan R. Takata and Individaul Authors, February 2002.
"Fair use" encouraged.

Steve Rosenthal's Contemporary Sociological Theory approach:

Steve Rosenthal's outline for his course in Contemporary Sociological Theory at Hampton University in Hampton, Virginia, is included here to highlight the different ways in which theory can be presented, given different perspectives on our lifeworld. At CSUDH, I suspect that this would provoke a student response of "Don't we all bleed the same?," and rightly so, because it neglects some of the issues of Hispanic/Latino culture.

There is no perfect way to organize an approach to theory. I will add considerable material on South and Central America. But I will also add material on Africa and the Middle East, and on European sociology and Asian approaches to sociology. And so I will leave out much that Steve is able to cover.

We included Steve's outline here so that you could choose different aspects of organization, according to your overriding interests.


  1. Review of Classical Theory and Overview of Contemporary Theory.
    1. Relationships between classical and contemporary sociological theory.
    2. Relationships between twentieth century history and twentieth century sociological theory.
  2. African American Theorists of the First Half of the Twentieth Century.
    1. W.E.B. DuBois
    2. Anna Julia Cooper
    3. Oliver C. Cox
    4. E. Franklin Frazier

    Textbook Reading: Chapter 12, Sociological Theory and Race.

    Web Page Readings:

  3. Structural Functionalism and its Critics.
    1. Talcott Parsons: Structural functionalism.
    2. Robert Merton: Reform structural functionalism.

    Textbook Reading: Chapter 14, Twentieth Century Functionalism.

  4. Conflict, Critical, Neo-Marxist, and Marxist Theories.
    1. Conflict theory and functionalism.
    2. Critical theory and anti-fascism.
    3. C. Wright Mills' critique of functionalism.
    4. World System theory: Immanuel Wallerstein.
    5. Black Nationalism and Internal Colonialism: Frantz Fanon, Bob Blauner, and the Black Panther Party.
    6. Contemporary Marxist theory.

  5. Symbolic Interactionism and Other Microsociological Theories.

    Textbook Reading: Chapter 20, Symbolic Interactionism.

  6. Feminist Theories.
    1. Varieties of sociological feminism.
    2. Black Feminism: Patricia Hill Collins, Angela Davis.

    Reading: TBA

  7. Racism and Anti-Racism in Twentieth Century Sociological Theory.
    1. The first 50 years: From Social Darwinism to functionalism. Park, Myrdal, Parsons.
    2. The 1960s and 1970s and cultural racism--Glazer, Moynihan, and Coleman.
    3. The 1960s and 1970s and biological racism--IQ theorists and sociobiology.
    4. The 1980s and 1990s and liberal racism--William Julius Wilson and Douglas Massey.
    5. Racism and anti-racism in Criminology.