courses2Academic Year 2017/2018

Winter semester 2017

  1. Economic Sociology and European Capitalism – Paul Blokker
  2. Sociology of European Cinema – Dagmar Stepankova (Humanities); Paul Blokker
  3. Sociology of Critique – Paul Blokker


Summer semester 2018

  1. A Constitutional Sociology of Europe: Law, Politics, and Society – Paul Blokker
  2. Sociology of European Integration – Paul Blokker
  3. Sociology of Human Rights in Contemporary Europe – Paul Blokker


Winter semester (1st)

Economic Sociology of European Capitalism

The module provides an introduction to economic sociology, discussed in the context of European capitalism. The emphasis is triple: 1) economic sociology’s emergence as a sub-field of sociology and its recent growing into a prominent field within sociology, 2) a discussion of varieties of (democratic) capitalism in Europe, and 3) an analytical focus on the transnational, European economy. The course focusses on the sociological study of economic phenomena, the exploration of different types of European capitalism, and the analysis of transnational market-making in the EU. It will both pay attention to contributions of classic sociologists to reflecting on and analysing the economy, the market, and capitalism, as well as focus on recent developments and new theoretical avenues. The main sociological approaches to the economy will be reviewed, an introduction will be provided to the basic conceptual and heuristic tools used in economic sociology, and new ways of researching the interaction between the economy and the market, on the one hand, and society, on the other, will be explored.

A variety of empirical cases regarding both European societies and the European integration project will be discussed.


Sociology of Critique

The course provides both an introduction to the sociology of critique, in particular as developed by Luc Boltanski and Laurent Thévenot in their seminal On Justification and an overview of sociological analyses of the role of critique, justification, and conventions in the European economy (capitalism), European politics (democracy), human rights and on the supranational level (the European Union).

The course introduces students to French pragmatism or the sociology of critique, distinguishing the sociology of critique from critical theory and critical sociology, and exploring main concepts such as justification, different orders of worth, conventions, tests (of truth, reality, and existentiality), commonality, and reality and the world. The sociology of critique will be situated in the context of sociology and social theory as well as more specifically linked to economic, cultural, political, and legal sociology.

In the second part, the course will explore distinctive applications of a sociology of critique in the European context, regarding capitalism, democracy, human rights, the European Social Model, and European integration.


Sociology of European Cinema (with Dagmar Stepankova)

The short module explores cinema from a sociological perspective, with as the main theme Europe and European Integration. The learning objective of the course is triple: 1) the course enhances the students’ linguistic capacities in English (all films will be in the English language); 2) the course enhances sociological understanding of cinema and the way cinema deals with sociological themes and engages the public in reflection on contemporary society; 3) the course explores how cinema has portrayed Europe in various historical phases. In particular, the cinematic representation of the process of European integration will be debated in class.


Summer semester (2nd)

A Sociology of European Integration

The course has as its main objective the exploration of a set of emerging and distinctive approaches in European Integration Studies, that of sociology and political sociology. The first aim is to review the emerging and promising debate on a sociology of European integration, which wants to shed light on aspects of European integration not covered by International relations, Political Science, and Legal Studies. A second aim is to explore and clarify the advantages and disadvantages of a critical, political-sociological analysis in comparison with existing political science approaches, in particular with regard to the study of European democracy, the democratic deficit, and an emerging European political society. Such an approach is useful in terms of exploring the engagement of ordinary citizens and civil society organizations in European integration as well as in analysing the contours of the emergence of European societal dimensions. A third aim is to exemplify the fruitfulness of a political-sociological approach to European integration by looking at specific cases that regard processes of political interaction and conflict, political claims-making and justification, civic participation and contestation, and social integration and fragmentation in the European Union.


A Constitutional Sociology of Europe: Law, Politics, and Society

The sociology of constitutions has in recent years emerged as a dynamic and innovative sub-discipline of sociology and the sociology of law, and explores the foundational aspects of a sociology of law and significantly contributes to debates about the role of constitutions in European societies as well as on the transnational level. The course will discuss various sociological approaches to the study of European constitutionalism, analyze socially relevant dimensions of constitutions (legitimacy, democracy, identity, integration, values), and apply this knowledge in the study of constitutional traditions in Europe. The final part of the course will closely look at emerging constitutional dimensions of the European Union itself.


Sociology of Human Rights in Contemporary Europe

We are living in an age of rights. In contemporary Europe, human rights seem to constitute a general language of justice and emancipation. The course explores the post-1945 emergence of human rights in Europe, the role of human rights in European integration, and the complex justification and usage of rights in contemporary Europe. The course provides an interdisciplinary – in particular a sociological and critical – focus on human rights, and explores and explains the role of human rights within European societies, the European integration process, and on the transnational level.