COMP 349 Spring 2017 Max Weber & Critical Theory or Rationalization & Its Discontents

Cross Listed as SOC350, REL350
We live in an age characterized by unprecedented technological and scientific progress--we have unraveled the building blocks of life, witnessed the birth of stars at the edge of the galaxy, and harnessed the power of the atom--and yet modern life often appears fundamentally meaningless and lacking in ultimate value--we work, we eat, we excrete, we die, perhaps in the interim shuffling paperwork, sucking up to our boss, and asking ourselves, "What kind of dining set defines me as a person?" Few thinkers have explored the roots of this modern ennui as thoroughly as Max Weber, a German sociologist often regarded as the single most important social theorist of the twentieth century. Weber wanted to know why it was European civilization in particular that gave birth to the grand trifecta of rationality, science, and capitalism and how we have become enslaved by the very things that were supposed to have set us free. Weber's key innovation was to trace the grand trajectory of Western "rationalization"--the historical attempt to produce a world in which "one can, in principle, master all things by calculation." Further, he demonstrated how this rationalization produced not just mastery over nature, but also "the disenchantment of the world" - value fragmentation, hyper-specialization, bureaucracy, and ultimately the "iron cage" of modernity. The first part of this course will follow in Weber's footsteps by studying his theory of rationalization and by exploring it in different social spheres, such as the economy, the law, the professions, and the secularization of religion. The second half of the course will look at Weber's legacy in Critical Theory. It will show how thinkers such as Theodor Adorno, Georges Bataille, Jürgen Habermas, Max Horkheimer, Michael Löwy, and Alasdair MacIntyre suggested various lines of flight from the iron cage of modernity.
Class Format: seminar
Requirements/Evaluation: attendance and participation, weekly critical reflections, 5- to 6-page midterm paper, 10- to 15-page final essay
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Prerequisites: none
Enrollment Preference: preference will be given to REL, ANSO and COMP majors
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Distribution Notes: meets Division 2 requirement if registration is under REL or SOC; meets Division 1 requirement if registration is under COMP
Divisional Attributes: Division I
Other Attributes: AMST Critical and Cultural Theory Electives, REL Body of Theory Courses
Enrollment Limit: 15
Expected Enrollment: 15
Class Number: 3381
CLASSES ATTR INSTRUCTORS TIMES CLASS NUMBER
COMP 349 - 01 (S) SEM Max Weber & Critical Theory Division 1: Languages and the Arts Jason Josephson Storm
W 1:10 PM-3:50 PM Sawyer Mabie Room 3381
REL 350 - 01 (S) SEM Max Weber & Critical Theory Division 2: Social Studies Jason Josephson Storm
W 1:10 PM-3:50 PM Sawyer Mabie Room 3379
SOC 350 - 01 (S) SEM Max Weber & Critical Theory Division 2: Social Studies Jason Josephson Storm
W 1:10 PM-3:50 PM Sawyer Mabie Room 3844
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