Kivisto, Peter: Key Ideas in Sociology

and two of the following:

Bauman, Zygmunt: Thinking Sociologically

Lee, David & Newby, Howard: The Problem of Sociology

Scott, John: Social Theory

YOU CAN ALSO USE THE BOOK: Giddens, Anthony: Sociology IN YOUR SOSP105-115 ESSAYS.


Essay assignments:

1. Write an essay, in which you consider the following questions: What is sociology about? What are its main characteristics? What are its subjects of interest? What are its “strengths”? What is sociology’s relationship with everyday life (and everyday thinking) like?  In which ways would you think sociology studies to help you in your everyday life? Use all three books in your essay.

5-7 pages


2. Sociology has been described as “the science of the modern world”, what is the basis for this description? What is sociology's relationship with modernity, and how has postmodernism/late modernity and globalisation challenged the status of sociology; its theories, concepts and approaches to society? In what ways is sociology as a science relevant in the 21st century? Use all three books in your essay.

4-6 pages


3. In his book Zygmunt Bauman writes about “strangers”. Consider the issue of “strangeness” and its different manifestations in the society you live in.

4-6 pages




1. Berger, Peter & Luckmann, Thomas: The Social Construction of Reality

2. Hughes, John; Martin, Peter & Sharrock, Wes: Understanding Classical Sociology


Essay assignments for Berger & Luckmann:

1. The first part of the essay comprises of a "conceptual dictionary", in which you in your own words and with your own examples briefly explain some of the key concepts of Berger & Luckmann's theory of social reality and its construction. Choose 6-8 concepts (e.g. "institutionalisation" and "legitimation").

3-6 pages


2. In the second part of the essay, your task is to examine, how cultural products (films, literature, fairy tales, online computer games etc.) can be regarded as examples of social realities, and how they can be studied within the sociology of knowledge. You can choose one example (an online computer game, a film etc.) on which you concentrate in your text. Use the concepts of Berger & Luckmann's book in your analysis.

3-6 pages


Essay assignment for Hughes, Martin & Sharrock:


In this assignment your task is to compare the three classics' (Marx, Weber & Durkheim) ideas of society. How did these theorists conceive the modern society? Which features or processes did they find essential in it, and how did their views on society and its functioning affect their ways of understanding the goals and purposes of sociology?

4-6 pages



Literature: Choose two of the following books:

1. Cole, Stephen: The Sociological Method

2. Bryman, Alan: Social Research Methods

3. McNeill, Patrick & Chapman, Steve: Research Methods


Essay assignments:

1. Your task is to create a "research plan" on a sociologically relevant issue that you regard as interesting/important. After a short description of the issue and the need to research it, write a description on how you would study this issue, e.g. which methods you would choose; who your research subjects would be; what kind of research material you would choose etc. Predict the possible problems you might encounter with your research, and think of ways to avoid them.

3-7 pages


2. Compare qualitative methods to quantitative methods; describe their characteristics and review their suitability for the research of social phenomena. Illustrate this by choosing two social issues (e.g. sexual harassment; racism; unemployment; environmental problems etc.) and describing how they could be studied with both quantitative and qualitative approaches.

3-7 pages


3. Write an essay on theory's role and functions in empirical sociological research.

3-7 pages



Literature: Choose two of the following books:

1. Alapuro, Risto: State and revolution in Finland

2. Kangas, Olli & Palme, Joakim (eds):Social Policy and Economic Development in the Nordic countries

3. Pyöriä, Pasi; Melin, Harri & Blom, Raimo: Knowledge Workers in the Information Society. Evidence from Finland.

4. Siisiäinen, Martti; Kinnunen, Petri & Hietanen, Elina (eds): The Third Sector in Finland




Essay assignment for Alapuro:

In his book Risto Alapuro takes a socio-historical view on the dramatic events that took place in Finland in early 20th century.

Write an essay, in which you consider the Finnish civil war, its background and its social consequences. How does Alapuro interpret and explain the civil war; what were the social processes that lead to it, and how did the civil war influence the development of Finnish state and society?

4-6 pages


Essay assignment for Kangas & Palme (eds):

In what ways are social policy, democracy and economic growth connected according to the Nordic experiences? What does Nordic welfare state's future look like? You can compare the situation in your own country to the Nordic case.

4-6 pages


Essay assignment for Pyöriä; Melin & Blom:

The book describes the development of Finnish information society and its "new class" of knowledge workers. Consider in your essay, why and how Finland became a globally competitive information society and what risks this involves both at the national and the individual level.

4-6 pages


Essay assignment for Siisiäinen, Kinnunen & Hietanen (eds):

There are about 100 000 voluntary associations in Finland, and the percentage of people belonging to associations is exceptionally high. In their book the authors study the meaning of substance of voluntary associations, the so called "third sector" in Finland.

Write an essay, in which you consider the third sector in general, and in Finland especially. Why do people join associations? What do they get from them? What does the society on the whole or the state gain from associations? What kind of socio-political force does the third sector present according to the book? Once again, you can compare the Finnish situation with that of your own country. What is the role of voluntary associations in your country? What is their relationship with the state?

4-6 pages




Literature: Choose three of the following books:

1.  Tonkiss, Fran: Contemporary Economic Sociology. Globalisation, production, inequality. (Economic Sociology)

2. Goldblatt, David: Social Theory and the Environment. (Environmental Sociology)

3. Harris, Diana: The Sociology of Ageing. (Social Gerontology)

4. Della Porta, Donatella & Diani, Mario: Social Movements. (Civil Society Research)

5. Swingewood, Alan: Cultural Theory and The Problem of Modernity. (Sociology of Culture)


Essay assignment for Tonkiss:

The book has three core themes: globalisation, production and inequality. Describe the contemporary changes in work and social structuration and consider to what extent these changes are connected to economic globalisation.

4-7 pages


Essay assignment for Goldblatt:

In his book David Goldblatt examines four contemporary sociologists' theories on environmental issues and environmentalism. Describe the role of social sciences in understanding and solving environmental issues. Consider, why social scientists should be interested in environmental issues and what they could offer to environmental discussion and decision-making?

4-7 pages


Essay assignment for Harris:

The book examines age and aging from sociological viewpoint. Describe the contextual and cultural nature of aging. Illustrate this with your own examples.

4-7 pages


Essay assignment for Della Porta & Diani:

The book gives an overview of different sociological approaches to social movements. Your task is to choose one contemporary social movement discussed in the book (e.g. Amnesty International, Greenpeace) and to give a brief presentation of how these different theoretical approaches would try to explain the birth and evolvement of this particular movement.

4-7 pages