Interpreting Key Sociological Texts

Module code: SY2087

Module co-ordinator: Dr Jerry Coulton

In this module you will gain insight into a range of sociological texts, with each lecture delivered by a member of staff who feels passionately about it. Maybe it was the text that brought them to their role as an academic, or maybe this was the text that made the entire subject come alive for them. There is every chance that this will happen for you, too.

Together we will explore up to 16 key readings and engage in seminar discussions around issues of content, method, ethics, and impact.

The team-taught nature of this module means that a precise list of the texts covered may vary form year to year, but a list of some of the likely candidates follows:

  • Émile Durkheim: On Suicide (1897)
  • Clifford R Shaw: The Jack Roller: A Delinquent Boy’s Own Story (1930)
  • William Foote Whyte: Street Corner Society: The Social Structure of an Italian Slum (1943)
  • Erving Goffman: Asylums: Essays on the Social Situation of Mental Patients and other Inmates (1961)
  • Howard S Becker: Outsiders: Studies in the Sociology of Deviance (1963)
  • Laud Humphries: Tearoom Trade: Impersonal Sex in Public Places (1970)
  • R Emerson Dobash and Russell Dobash: Violence Against Wives (1979)
  • Jimmy Boyle: A Sense of Freedom (1979)
  • Paul Willis: Learning to Labour: How Working Class Kids Get Working Class Jobs (1981)
  • Dick Hobbs: Doing the Business: Entrepreneurship, the Working Class and Detectives in the East End of London (1988)
  • Mitchell Duneier: Sidewalk (1999)
  • Paul Hodkinson: Goth: Identity, Style, and Subculture (2002)
  • Garry Crawford: Video Gamers (2011)

Topics covered

  • Content of set texts
  • Methodology and methods
  • Ethical considerations
  • Repeating the study
  • Impact of the material


  • Eighteen one-hour lectures
  • Eight one-hour seminars


  • Critical literature review of 2,000 words (50%)
  • Portfolio of workshop material equivalent to 2,000 words equivalent – minimum of 11 reports (50%)