module specification

SS5066 - Self and Society (2018/19)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2018/19
Module title Self and Society
Module level Intermediate (05)
Credit rating for module 15
School School of Social Sciences
Total study hours 150
120 hours Guided independent study
30 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 0%   Critical Analysis of a text
Coursework 100%   Essay 2000 words
Running in 2018/19
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Autumn semester North Friday Morning

Module summary

This module introduces students to some of the key sociological approaches used to explore and explain the sociological notion of ‘self’. This will involve an examination of a range of major 20th century sociological thinkers on the nature of the social construction of self - eg. Mead, Goffman - and it’s constrains - e.g. Parsons, Merton and Dahrendorf. The intention is to use some of the major sociological theorists and apply their insights into current concerns with the ‘project’ of self and identity. That is, to examine how much choice we have in becoming who we are.


• Agency vs. Structure – Micro/Macro debate LO1-3
• Origins of the Debate
• From American pragmatism to G. H. Mead
• Symbolic Interactionism
• Erving Goffman and Dramaturgy
• Structural Functionalism: Parsons and Merton
• Conflict Theory
• Identity: Acquired or Ascribed

Balance of independent study and scheduled teaching activity

The module integrates face-to-face with online learning. Weekly lectures followed by exercises and reflexive discussion in seminars, based on data and key texts. Learning is supported by the WebLearn site for the module which includes lecture notes, seminar exercises, academic and newspaper articles as well as links to relevant web sites.

Learning outcomes

1. Distinguish and evaluate a number of sociological traditions in terms of the different conceptions of the relationship between social structure and the individual.
2. Identify and critically apply the key sociological concepts used to explain the relationship between the individual and society.
3. Debate the strengths and weaknesses of the various sociological conceptions of the ‘self’.

Assessment strategy

1. Critical analysis of a text, 500 words – formative assessment due in week 7.
2. 2000 essay due week 14 addressing learning outcome 1, 2 and 3.


Adams, M. (2007) Self and Social Change, London: Sage
Bauman, Z. & May, T. (2001) Thinking Sociologically, 2nd Ed., London: Blackwell
Best, S. (2003) A Beginner’s Guide to Social Theory, London: Sage
Burkitt, I. (2008) Social Selves, 2nd Edn., London: Sage
Cheal, D. (2005) Dimensions of Sociological Theory, Basingstoke: Palgrave
Giddens, A (1991) The Consequences of Modernity, Cambridge: Polity
Goffman, E. ( 1969) The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life, Harmondsworth: Penguin
Lopez, J & Scott, J. (2000) Social Structure, Open Univ. Press
O’Donnell, M (2000) Classical & Contemporary Sociology, London:  Hodder & Stoughton
Parker, J. et al (2003) Social Theory: A basic tool kit, Basingstoke: Palgrave
Ritzer, G. & Stepinsky, J. (2017) Sociological Theory, 10th ed. Los Angeles: SAGE. 
Roberts, B. (2006) Micro Social Theory, Palgrave Macmillan