Department of Global and Interdisciplinary Studies

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Social Theory: Perspectives on Inequality

Diana KHOR

Class code etc
Class code A6310
Year 2020
Faculty/Graduate school Department of Global and Interdisciplinary Studies
Previous Class title
Attached documents
Class form
Term 秋学期授業/Fall
Credit(s) 2
Day/Period 木2/Thu.2
Campus 市ヶ谷 / Ichigaya
Grade 3~4
Duplicate Subjects Taken Under Previous Class Title
Open Program
Global Open Program
Interdepartmental class taking system for Academic Achievers
Class taught by instructors with practical experience

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Outline and objectives

Social inequality has always been a part of human society, and social scientists have invested much effort into “figuring out” why there is social inequality and how social inequality is sustained and reproduced. Earlier efforts focused mostly on socioeconomic inequality, while later endeavors explored racial, gender, sexual inequalities and their interconnections. These efforts resulted in classical and contemporary social theories on inequality. In this course, students will learn these theories, which are interesting in and of themselves, but more importantly, they will learn to think about inequality deeply and sophisticatedly.


In mastering the social theories covered in this course, students will hone their critical thinking skills, develop their own theories of various aspects of society and the world and consider solutions to lessen inequality. Students will acquire the skills to engage with complex ideas and think systematically and logically, and remaining aware of social injustices and problems. By the end of the course, students should be able to form and support their opinions with ease.

Which item of the diploma policy will be obtained by taking this class?

Will be able to gain “DP 1”, “DP 2”, “DP 3”, and “DP 4”.

Default language used in class

英語 / English

Method(s)(2020年度はオンライン授業の実施に伴い、変更の可能性があります。変更は学習支援システム等で提示します。/Method(s) may change depending on the online lesson.Changes will be reflected in the Learning Management System, etc.)

This course is taught through a combination of lectures interwoven with short discussions, student presentations based on readings, and post-presentation discussions.

Active learning in class (Group discussion, Debate.etc.)

あり / Yes

Fieldwork in class

なし / No




Overview of theories to be covered. Nature of the class. Course requirements.

2:The Trio in Classical Theories (1)

Karl Marx on social class

3:The Trio in Classical Theories (2)

Max Weber on social stratification

4:The Trio in Classical Theories (3)
Yet Another View? Norms and Inequality

Emile Durkehim on the division of labor in society
Ralph Dahrendorf's theory of the origin of inequality

5:The Cultural Turn in Social Theory?

Pierre Bourdieu’s Distinctions and the significance of taste and lifestyle

6:Presentation and Discussion: A "Common Sense" Theory and its Critique

Student presentation and discussion on Davis and Moore's structural-functionalist theory and Tumin's critique

7:Race, Ethnicity and Inequality (1)

Theories related to racial inequality: The work of W.E.B. Du Bois, Michael Omi & Howard Winant, Joe Feagin

8:Race, Ethnicity and Inequality (2)

Theories related to racial inequality: Critical Race theories (CRT)

9:Student Presentation and Discussion

Student presentation and discussion of CRT

10:The "F" word: "Classic" Feminist Theories on Gender Inequality

What is feminism? Liberal Feminism: the feminist theory? Mary Wollstonecraft, John Stuart & Harriet Taylor Mill, and Betty Friedan

11:The "F" word: Feminist Theories on Multiple Inequalities

How "radical" is Standpoint Theories? Dorothy Smith, Nancy Hartsock, Sandra Harding

12:It's All Together Now: Race, Class and Gender

Black Feminist Standpoint Theory: Patricia Hill Collins
Intersectional Theories: understanding multiple inequalities

13:Student Presentation and Discussion

Student presentation and discussion on Wildman & Davis's theory of multiple inequalities.

14:Theories on Inequality: One More Time

What have we learned? Where to go from here?
Short presentation and discussions of "favorite concepts"

Work to be done outside of class (preparation, etc.)

Since the class is centered on reading and discussion, students are expected to do the readings before class and also review materials after each class. Every effort will be made to keep the amount of readings reasonable and enjoyable. Preparatory study and review time for this class are 2 hours each.


The instructor will prepare materials to be distributed in class or downloaded from the university portal.


Grabb, Edward G. 2007. Theories of Social Inequality. 5th edition. Toronto, Canada:Thomson Nelson.

Grading criteria

Presentations (22%), reading assignments (40%), take-home examination (30%), class participation (8%).

Changes following student comments

Students were positive about the course, despite the rather heavy workload. However, to encourage students to engage more with the class materials, short discussions started to be integrated into the lectures in 2017.


If you like to read, think and discuss, this is the course for you. If you have taken and liked courses in political theory, philosophy, cultural anthropology or other sociology courses, it's likely that you find this course enjoyable as well.


Students who have passed Introduction to Sociology will be given admission priority. All students who intend to enroll in this class have to attend the first class.