Introduction to Social Sciences and Humanities

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Course TypeCourse CodeNo. Of Credits
Foundation CoreSUS1FC0424

Semester and Year Offered: 1st and 2nd Semester, 1st Year

Course Coordinator and Team: Prof. Denys P Leighton, Dr.Rachna Mehra

Email of course coordinator: denys[at]aud[dot]ac[dot]in

Pre-requisites: None

Aim: The Course titled ‘Introduction to Social Science and Humanities’ is offered as a foundation to all these programs in the first and second semester. A foundation course is a kind of a building block, which gives necessary conceptual clarity to an uninitiated novice. It is a research methods course with an interdisciplinary approach and intends to helps students to appreciate the emergence of various disciplines in Social Sciences and Humanities like philosophy, sociology, psychology, History, economics, anthropology etc. In doing so, it introduces the students to research methods which is bedrock of every discipline and in fact distinguishes one from the other.

Course Outcomes:

  • By the end of the course the student will be conversant with:
  • The philosophical ideas related to knowledge production
  • Locate the trajectory of disciplines like history, literature, philosophy, science and various social science disciplines like economics, anthropology, sociology, geography, political science, psychology, statistics etc.
  • They will also understand how sciences came to be differentiated from social sciences and humanities.
  • They will be trained to use methods of a discipline to understand the formulation of a concept.

Brief description of modules/ Main modules:

I Knowledge Production

  • What is knowledge? Knowledge as socially constructed.
  • What are the social sciences and its components? How is t different from natural sciences?
  • Origins of social science: ancient and modern knowledge orders, ‘Scientific Revolution’, Enlightenment: Freedom, Toleration and Progress; Positivism; Evolution of Modern Social Science Disciplines;
  • Finding the non-west in ‘western’ knowledge?

II Theory and Practice

  • Research Methods
  • Theory building – Evidence, objectivity and ideology – Reasoning processes, data generation and hypothesis formation – Sampling and surveying society – Ethics and politics of research.

II Understanding Concepts

  • Social Justice and Social Change: Through the lens of gender and caste
  • Nations, Nationalism, Globalization
  • Equality, inequality and freedom
  • Rethinking Social Sciences

Assessment Details with weights:

Assessment structure (3):

First Assessment (30%) Class quiz based on readings of the first module

Second Assessment (40%) write a questionnaire based survey interviewing people on any one concept. They need to learn as well as evolve a methodology to do the survey.

Third Assessment (30%) In-class final examination (MCQ and Essay) based on the last unit on concepts

Reading List:

  • Marvin Perry, An Intellectual History of Modern Europe, Houghton Mifflin, Boston, 1993, pp. 121-5, 146-9, 154-69.
  • Immanuel Wallerstein et al. “The Historical Construction of the Social Sciences, from the eighteenth century to 1945”, Open the Social Sciences. Report of the Gulbenkian Commission on the Reconstructing of the Social Sciences, ed. I. Wallerstein, Stanford Univ. Press, Palo Alto 1996.
  • Auguste Comte, ‘A General View of Positivism’ (1848)
  • Herbert Spencer, ‘Progress: Its Law and Cause’ (1857)
  • Ziauddin Sardar, ‘Written Out of History’, Background paper for the fourth Multiversity Conference “Decolonizing Our University”, 27-29 June, 2011
  • Rachna Johari, “Psychology” (module for School of Open learning)
  • Earl Babbie, “Research Methods in Sociology”, Cengage Learning India Pvt. Ltd., New Delhi, 2007, pp. 15-37, 49-50, 112-38.
  • M N Srinivas “The Fieldworker and the Field: A Village in Karnataka” (1979)
  • George G. Kunnath “Under the Shadow of Guns: Negotiating the Flaming Fields of Caste/Class War in Bihar”, Anthropology Matters, 6/2 (2004), pp. 1-12.
  • Adam Swift, “Equality”, in Political Philosophy: A Beginners’ Guide for Students and Politicians, Polity Press.
  • Ernst Gellner, “Nation” and “Nationalism”, Blackwell Dictionary of 20thSocial Thought, ed. W. Outhwaite and T. Bottomore, Blackwell, Oxford, 1993.
  • V Geetha “Patriarchy: A History of the Term,’ Patriarchy, Stree, Kolkata, 2007, pp. 4-29.
  • V Iyenger “The Library Girl” (1985)
  • Ajay Sekhar “Older Than the Church: Christianity and Caste in “The God of Small Things”, Economic and Political Weekly, vol. 38, no. 33 (2003), pp. 3445-49.