Welcome to the module on Harriet Martineau. The required materials for this module will explain her contribution to sociology in general and social theory in particular. As you work through Martineau’s ideas, keep in mind the materials we covered in Week 1’s module, specifically how theorists’ social location shapes 1) their ideas/theories and 2) the reception of those ideas. Also, we’ll be reading different theorists all semester long. As you read those theorists, it’s important that you do so strategically. I recommend taking notes as you read and structuring those notes along the following points:
- What aspects of the social world does the theorist address? What topics/issues are the focusof their work? This question helps you highlight the purview of the theorist and thereby understand the domains of the social world to which the theorists’ ideas apply.
- What specific concepts does the theorist develop to help us understand the topics they focus on? Specifically, what is the definition of the concepts, as provided by the theorist? Always use the theorists’ own words to define concepts (avoid going online and using dictionaries, wikipedia, etc. for your definitions!). This question helps you develop your skills to coherently explain specific concepts and base those explanations within the theoretical writings themselves (rather than websites that summarize the work for you).
- Given #’s 1 & 2, what is the contribution that the theorist makes to the topics/issues that is their focus? Put another way, what does the theorist help to explain (recall my discussion of the importance of explanations to social theory)? What does a given theorist help us to see or understand? And what role do the theorist’s concept(s) play in their explanation? This question gets at developing your ability to identify and explain the contributions of theorists to given topics/issues.
- What is the contribution that the theorist makes to one or more of the three main theoretical paradigms in sociology? How do the specific concepts they use and explanations they provide relate to the major paradigms? This question helps you develop your skills in situating the theorists’ ideas in a “big picture” way, understanding where and how they fit in the terrain of social theory.
- How do the concepts and explanations provided by the theorists relate to one contemporary example? Why is the example you select an example of the specific concept/explanation? It’s important to be very clear and specific when discussing examples. This question gets at developing your ability to apply concepts or explanations to the contemporary world.
- How do the concepts and explanations relate to others we’ve read? How are they similar to another theorist we’ve read or which you’ve covered in another course? How are they different from another theorist we’ve read or which you’ve covered in another class. This question gets at developing your ability to compare/contrast theorists’ concepts/explanations.
As a student in the course, you should be able to define and explain the following concepts. You should also understand the relationship between the concepts, where relevant:
- Morals & Manners (and how they form a program for conducting sociological analysis)
- Domination (and the basis for Martineau’s critique of it)
- Gender conflict theory
Through completing this module, you will demonstrate your ability to:
- Identify the main concepts and explanations of the theorist and to which arenas of social life they apply;
- Situate and evaluate the theorists’ ideas relative to the the main paradigms in social theory;
- Apply theorists’ concept to contemporary examples; and
- Compare and contrast theorists’ concepts and explanations to other theorists’ ideas.