Power and Everyday Life

(Formerly Social Organization/Social Order)

Power and Everyday Life introduces students to the multiple dimensions through which power permeates our everyday social worlds and shapes the organization and regulation of social life. The course considers the social organization of knowledge and the production of social and material life in their local and global dimensions. It investigates the formation of bodies, identities and selves, social institutions, and cultural practices. In addition to critiques of the status quo, students encounter ideas and practices of agency and resistance to inequitable effects of power on different social groups. This is a course that requires you, the student, to actively participate in and take responsibility for your own learning process.  We open up modes of critical inquiry that direct you to unpack the centre (taken for granted, normative features of social organization), and render everyday life, including everyday objects and practices, ‘strange’. Throughout this course, you will engage with a number of dimensions of social organization, including:

1.   The structural and institutional organization of social life.
2.   How meaning gets made through ideologies, discourses, and culture.
3.   What people do and how they do it: Everyday social life and social practices in the material world.
4.   The formation of the self and of subjectivity: “Making up” people.

We introduce you to a fairly sophisticated approach to power in order to better understand how power permeates your everyday social worlds, and we make ample use of key concepts in connecting the abstract to the everyday. We want you to learn to ask good critical analytic questions, rather than merely asking information seeking questions.  You will go beyond the why? and explore the how? How do we come to believe what we believe and how do things come to be as they are? We aim to enhance your ability to be critical consumers of information, as you explore the links between the production of knowledge and the circulation of power in contemporary Western societies. Given that so much of our knowledge derives from mass textual forms (books, internet, film, music, etc.), we will turn a critical eye to the politics of representation to explore how things are given meaning.

The team that created your textbook, Power and Everyday Practice, modelled the textbook on this very course (Sociology 2070). You will, we hope, benefit from the detailed integration of text and course content.