Singapore University of Social Sciences

Contemporary Social Theory

Contemporary Social Theory (SOC309)


Today’s advanced capitalist societies have produced new orders and new complexities for social life and its governance. Contemporary social theories play a role in highlighting and theorizing about the social forces shaping today’s world. The course covers the critical inquiries of selected prominent thinkers from the 20th century onwards, on salient topics such as power and conflict, democracy, new technologies and risk, and will consider what these mean not only for social and public policy but particularly for the individual citizen and social action (the structure-agency debate). It will explore developments in social and political thought and what these bring to current debates surrounding the 4th industrial revolution, new economies and work, digitalisation, identity and the self, and more.

Level: 3
Credit Units: 5
Presentation Pattern: EVERY JAN


  • Contemporary social theory and its roots
  • Theories of society: Parsons, Mills and Merton
  • Theories of society: interpretive and micro-sociology
  • Critical theorists on society: technological rationality and the culture industry
  • Critical theorists on society: democracy and public sphere
  • Power and conflict; technology and surveillance
  • Poststructuralism, postcolonial theories, contemporary feminism
  • Media, postmodernism and society
  • Risk society
  • Global society and consequences of globalisation
  • Contemporary theoretical syntheses
  • Contemporary social theory: public sociology and policy

Learning Outcome

  • Appraise the core ideas and concepts of contemporary social theories
  • Demonstrate knowledge of the major traditions and influences in contemporary social theory
  • Examine the interactions between the major theoretical schools in explaining social transformations
  • Assess the applicability of contemporary social theory to understanding the current social order
  • Analyse problems in current society using contemporary social theories
  • Apply theoretical ideas to substantive social issues
Back to top
Back to top