Sociology (SOCI) 435

Theories of Social Change (Revision 4)

SOCI 435

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Delivery Mode: Individualized study online

Credits: 3

Area of Study: Social Science

Prerequisite: SOCI 335 or SOCI 337 or any 300 or 400 level Social theory course.

Faculty: Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences

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SOCI 435 is not available for challenge.

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SOCI 435 surveys several different theories, concepts, and categories used by sociologists to explain social change. Students will be asked to draw from these theories and concepts when examining some of the social, economic, and political transformations occurring at the end of the twentieth century.

Questions concerning social change are fundamental issues for all academic disciplines including sociology. Persistent change appears to be a compelling characteristic of modern societies, just as permanence and order appeared to characterize pre-modern societies. Yet, sociologists have not always agreed upon the mechanisms underlying social change observed in the last two centuries. In this course students will re-appraise a series of classic and contemporary debates in order to develop the basic analytical tools to understand, analyse, and interpret social transformations.

These analytical tools will provide a foundation from which students can critically assess such current social transformations as the population question, the collapse of communism and the end of the cold war, the global AIDS issue, the increasing pollution of the planet, the domination of the nation state by transnational corporations and global trading blocks, new forms of North-South imperialism, the Americanization or homogenization of global culture, the power of the worldwide news media, and more.


Sociology 435 explores contemporary expressions of this insight through the works of four social theorists: a contemporary “classical” Marxist, a radical feminist Marxist, a media theorist and a neo-liberal economist. As you complete this course, we anticipate that you will develop your ability to think critically about

  1. various theories of social change and the factors—especially those operating within the wider society—that influence the development of those theories.
  2. the impact of different theories on the societies under study, in particular, who benefits from a given theory, and who pays the price.
  3. the distinction between a historical analysis of concrete social forms and a purely descriptive analysis, and the social roles served by each type of analysis.
  4. the concrete social conflicts and contradictions that bring about social changes.
  5. the impact of ideology and its critique on global social change.


To receive credit for SOCI 435, you must submit all the course assignments, achieve a grade of at least 50 per cent on each examination, and receive a course composite grade of at least "D" (50 percent). The following chart summarizes the evaluation activities and the credit weight associated with each evaluation.

Book Review Research Essay: Proposal Essay Final Examination Total
20% 15% 30% 35% 100%

To learn more about assignments and examinations, please refer to Athabasca University's online Calendar.

Course Materials


Federici, S. (2004). Caliban and the witch: Women, the body and primitive accumulation. Brooklyn: Autonomedia.

McNally, D. (2006). Another world is possible: Globalization and anti-capitalism (2nd ed.). Winnipeg: Arbeiter Ring.

Postman, N. (1993). Technopoly: The surrender of culture to technology. New York: Vintage Books.

Sachs, J. (2006). The end of poverty: Economic possibilities for our time. Toronto: Penguin Books.

Other Materials

Students will access all other materials online.

Athabasca University reserves the right to amend course outlines occasionally and without notice. Courses offered by other delivery methods may vary from their individualized-study counterparts.

Opened in Revision 4, February 7, 2012

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Updated September 23 2016 by Student & Academic Services