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2019/20 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

SLSP1210 Formations of Modernity

20 creditsClass Size: 240

Module manager: Dr Rodanthi Tzanelli

Taught: Semester 2 View Timetable

Year running 2019/20

Module replaces

SLSP1010 Sociological Analysis of Contemporary Society

This module is approved as a discovery module

Module summary

Why is our society the way it is? What historical events and major transitions have led to society being the way it is today? Why do we understand society in a certain way? And what other 'ways of seeing' society are still possible?'Formations of Modernity' is concerned with the process of formation that led to the emergence of modern societies, and which stamped them with their distinctive character. It sees modern societies now as a global interconnected phenomenon and the modern world as the unexpected and unpredicted outcome of, not one, but a series of major historical transitions. The lectures in this module not only map this historical process of formation, but attempt to provide an explanatory framework for this development. Although some chronological order has been considered, the module privileges theoretical and analytical narrative in seeking to understand a number of deeply structured processes of chance taking place over long periods of time.This module will provide students with an overarching narrative about social change that will provide them with the knowledge and analytical tools to engage with contemporary society and social issues. This module will help students to understand common themes of concern including major world crises and transitions as well as slower and less obvious incremental changes which ‘creep up on us’. The aim is to engage students in a form of historical sociology that opens up many possible ways of understanding contemporary society.


By exploring key themes and classic and contemporary debates in the history of sociology and of societies, on completing the module students will be better able to:
- Demonstrate their understanding of the main theoretical and policy perspectives relating to the historical transition of societies
- Contribute to informed debate in relation to issues surrounding key transitions in the shape of societies over time;
- Critically evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the various theories and perspectives on these issues

Learning outcomes
On completion of the module students should have provided evidence of being able to:
- demonstrate a familiarity with the basic concepts, historical information, and practical competencies and research techniques to develop a sociological understanding of modern societies;
- utilise expertise on the formations of modernity to assess with cultural and ethical sensitivity the social implications of modern society on the opportunities and life-chances for a wide variety of social, cultural, political, and economic groups;
- demonstrate an ability to evaluate the appropriateness of different approaches within the sociological study of modernity, with specific regard to assessing the strengths and weaknesses of competing narratives concerning the formation of modernity;
- be able to communicate the results of their work and to present a structured and coherent sociological argument;
- be able to assess their own competencies as independent learners and to develop self-awareness about the legitimacy of their own views about the formation of modern societies across history to the present day.


The module will be divided into four interrelated blocks with the following as an indication of possible topics to be covered:
Introduction (week 1)
1. Formations of Modernity

Block 1 The Emergence of the Economy (weeks 1-3)
2. Fordism/post-Fordism;
3. Industrialism/post-industrialism;
4. Organised capitalism/disorganised capitalism
5. Economies of things (manufacturing) vs. Economies of signs (media, culture, digital)
6. The Information Society

Block 2 Transformations of 'Racial' Orderings (weeks 4-6)
7. Colonies/post-colonies
8. Biological racism/cultural racism.
9. The rise of Islamophobia
10. Challenges of a post-colonial world
11. Crises of Fordism/ labour reserves/industrialism

Block 3 Politics, Resistance and State Transformations (weeks 6-9)
12. Emergence of post-politics and post-democracy,
13. Decline of class politics in metropolitan 'core nations' vs its resurgences elsewhere e.g. Latin America
14. The rise of the precariat, economic inequalities
15. Collective action/connective action;
16. Contemporary forms of resistance e.g. the Arab spring.

Block 4 Transformations of Intimacy (weeks 9-11)
17. Gender transformations
18. Intimacy
19. Different family forms
20. Sexualities
21. New individuals, new subjectivities

Module Review (week 11)
22. Summary, Revision and next steps.

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours170.00
Total Contact hours30.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)200.00

Private study

110 hours preparation for lectures and tutorials
60 hours preparation for assessment

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Contribution at tutorials

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Essay2,000 words100.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

Normally resits will be assessed by the same methodology as the first attempt, unless otherwise stated

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 30/04/2019


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