Society in Transformation

Module code: SY1002

Society consists of many, many very complex networks of interdependent human beings. Accordingly, the task of sociology is to explain the social world in which we live, and make it seem less obstinately familiar – to make it more difficult for us to take for granted that things are as they are, and less easy to assume that things could never be different. One way in which to achieve this is to look not just at the contemporary society in which we live now, but also at the very different ways in which human beings have organised their lives together, now and in the past – how society transforms and has transformed.

This module adopts a developmental perspective, looking at some of the ways human beings have organised their lives together ever since the emergence of our species. The teaching ranges from the hunter-gatherer groups which were the only form of society for most of humankind’s history (and which still existed in isolated parts of the world until about a generation ago) right up to the single global society which is taking shape today. Interspersed in this account of human social development, however, other lectures will be of a more overtly theoretical character; their aim is to give you the conceptual and theoretical tools to understand and explain why human society has transformed as it has.

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