Sociological Theories

Academic year
Subject Area
Language of Instruction
Mode of Delivery
ECTS Credits
1st Cycle Studies

Recommended Prerequisites

It is recommend to the students a previous knowledge about the main classical authors and paradigms (Classical Sociological Thought curricular unit), once several articulations between the classical and the great sociological thought (especially of the XX century) will be emphasized.

Teaching Methods

The  evaluation combines the involvement of students in classes (oral participation and texts presentations), the performing of small written essays and answers with consultation, and a final exam with no consultation:

- Presentation of a text in class (3 values)
- Preparation of a summary of the text presented (2 values)
- Responding to a question in a consultation exam (3 values)
- Comment to a newspaper article or report of participation in a conference (2 values)
- Final exam without consultation (10 values)

Alternatively, students can take the final exam for 20 values

Learning Outcomes

Overall objectives

Provide a systematic guide of the main contemporary theoretical approaches, especially those developed since the Second World War.

Specific objectives

- Capturing the diversity of theoretical perspectives in contemporary sociology;

- Develop relationships with the classic sociological thought;

- Know the main authors and theories of functionalism;

- Create familiarity with the main legacies of the conflict theory;

- Distinguish the main forms of micro-sociology of the twentieth century

Generic competencies

Identification and characterization of major general sociological theories of the XX century, pointing out proximities and differences between them.

Specific competencies

- Instrumental skills: cognitive (reading and learning), methodological (methodological tools and forms of assessment), language (oral and written summary of topics on the program);

- Interpersonal skills: the participation (individual and /or group) in teaching sessions is valued.

Work Placement(s)



1. The legacy of classical sociological thought: Ideas and concepts 2. The functional theorizing:  analytical functionalism (T. Parsons); empirical functionalism (R. Merton); neo-functionalism (N. Luhmann, J. Alexander). 3. Conflict theory: the Marxist heritage: from Frankfurt School Critical Theory to Habermas; the Weberian legacy: the theory of dialectical conflict (R. Dahrendorf) functionalism conflictual (L. Coser) 4. The "creative" sociologies: symbolic interactionism, phenomenological sociology and ethnomethodology: the nature of human interaction (H. Blumer), the genesis of the self (Mead), the dramaturgical metaphor (E. Goffmann), the social construction of reality (P . Berger and T. Luckman); contents of ethnomethodology (H. Harfinkel).

Head Lecturer(s)

António Manuel Carvalho Casimiro Ferreira

Assessment Methods

Final Assessment
Exam: 100.0%

Continuous Assessment
Final Exam: 50.0%
Presentations in the classroom, written synthesis, comments, answers in consultations tests: 50.0%


BLACKWELL (THE) companion to major contemporary social theorists. Edited by G. Ritzer.. Malden : Blackwell Publishers, 2003. [BP 316.2 BLA]

COSER, L. A. — The functions of social conflict. London : Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1956. [BP FRP 316.4 COS]

DAHRENDORF, R. — O conflito social moderno : um ensaio sobre a política da liberdade. Rio de Janeiro : Jorge Zahar Editor, 1992. [BP 316.4 DAH]

GOFFMAN, E. — A apresentação do eu na vida de todos os dias. Lisboa : Relógio d’Água, 1993. [BP 316.6 GOF]

MEAD, G.H.— Mind, self and society : from the standpoint of a social behaviorist George H. Mead. Edited, with introduction, by Charles W. Morris. Chicago : University of Chicago Press, 1967. [BP 316.2 MEA]

MERTON, R. K. — Social theory and social structure. New York : Free Press, 1968. [BP 316.2 MER]

PARSONS, T. — The social system. New ed. London : Routledge, 1997. [BP 303 PAR]

RITZER, G.; GOODMAN, D. J. — Sociological theory. 6th ed. Boston : McGraw-Hill, 2004. [BP 316.2 RIT]

WALLACE, R.A. ; WOLF, A.— Contemporary sociological theory : expanding the classical tradition. 6th ed. Upper Saddle River : Pearson/Prentice Hall, 2006. [BP 316.2 WAL]