Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. [Volume 39, Issue 8. April 1976]
Despite the amount of criticism appearing in Salient during the past six weeks, the Sociology Department will ask the Faculty of Arts next month to approve the introduction of another compulsory theory course.
The course concerned is The History of Social Thought (Sosc 205) taught at the moment by Chairman of Department Professor Jim Robb.
The course features a two-week run through the history of sociological ideas, and then the rest of the course is spent on a study of Marx, Weber, Durkheim and Simmel.
At present there are 24 credits of compulsory courses for a student doing a Sociology major, and so Sosc 205 will further plug the choice gap for the other 12 credits.
In a period when there is a general loosening of restrictions for majoring students, the introduction of this requirement comes as rather a surprise. Why is it necessary?
The students in the compulsory Sosc 301 course have been discontented with their course for quite a while and last year this erupted in the form of demands for improved workload and assessment procedures. Does the department see the answer to this discontent lying in the introduction of an earlier theory course? I think they will be disappointed.
The other assumption with the introduction of this course seems to be that students need a good deal of theoretical background before they can tackle Sosc 301. And yet the same problems which are manifest in Sosc 301, are going to re-appear in Sosc 205.
Most department staff are unsure of what "sociological theory" actually is, let alone how to teach it. A good example is the detached way that the four paradigms are taught in Sosc 301, with little application to social reality and, more importantly, with no attempt made to explain that reality.
At the departmental staff meeting there was very little active opposition -to the installation of another compulsory theory course - an indication of how oblivious the staff are the questions being asked in all comers of the department.
It seems that when questions are raised by students, departmental policy is to keep quiet and hope that interest will flag and the questioners will disappear.
Failing this, staff may find out who wrote the article, and use subtle means to personally drag the individual's credibility down in the eyes of both students and other staff members. If they succeed in this, the ideas put forward no longer have any power.
Salient has been very disappointed in the number of letters from staff members in its current Sociology Debate. Apart from Junior Lecturer Charles Crothers, none of the staff have bothered to reply to very important criticism of the Sociology Department, many of which centre on the very important area of the nature of theory.
If staff members cannot debate theoretical approaches in Salient, how will they be able to teach a course in sociological theory.
S.A.G. Initiation Rites:
Beware Sociology Students - S.A.G. could become a terms requirement!