Critical Social Thought

College of Behavioral and Social Sciences
Dean: Joel Kassiola

Critical Social Thought Program
HSS 133
Directors: Roberto Rivera and James Martel


Professors—Anton, Heather, Kassiola, Kobashigawa, Longmore, Luft, Nichols, Pinderhughes, Rivera, Schechter, Stolz

Associate Professors—Carillo, Oņate, Quesada

Assistant Professor—Martel


Minor in Critical Social Thought

Program Scope

Critical social theory challenges contemporary forms of political-economic power. Critical social though draws from Marxism, socialism, anarchism, the Frankfurt School, radical environmentalism and anti-consumerism, postmodernism and post-structuralism, globalization studies, feminism, queer theory, post-colonial and subaltern studies, disability studies, critical race theory, theories of art and visual representation, and other systems of thught that pay attention to the questions of pwer and exploitation in world politics, culture, economics, and the formation of identities. It begins with the promise that criticism is not simply negative but an active and productive engagement with social, cultural, and political issues.

Critical social theory is needed because contemporary social theory is, for the most part, uncritical. It tends to view the uses of social science as being largely those of crisis management, social control, and even (post-) colonial administration. Its agenda does not include deep, principled opposition to the exploitation of labor, to social and political domination, to the undermining of nature as a source of human being, to the destruction of public goods, to racism, sexism, disability prejudice, and heterosexism.

Critical social thought is a 21-24 unit minor covering four areas: (1) theory and pedagogy, (2) identity and resistance, (3) globalism, empire, and social movements, (4) culture as critical social thought. The last three of these units correspond to the "analytic" category described below. Critical social thought is quided by the beliefs that "a better world is possible" and that social thought has an important role in outlining the form such a world might take and identifying the agents who might be capable of bringing it about.


Each student shall, in consultation with a faculty adviser, develop an individual program of 21 to 24 units that draws upon the following four areas and is organized around a coherent theme and/or methodology.

On-line course descriptions are available.

Program Units
Introduction--an overview of the tradition of critical social thought, required of all minors
CST 300 Introduction to Critical Social Thought 3
Theoretical Courses--a set of courses concerned with the theoretical development of critical social thought. Depending on student qualification and with prior approval of adviser, each minor shall elect six to nine units from this segment; courses elected here must be topically or thematically integrated with those elected from the analytical segment. 6-9
Suggested Courses (other appropriate courses may be used with consent of adviser)  
CST/ANTH 320 Racism: A Cross-cultural Analysis
ETHS 571 Women, Class, and Race
HIST 348 Recent European Intellectual History
HUM 410 The Modern Revolution
HUM 430 Postmodern Criticism
NEXA 330 Marxian Revolution
PHIL 303 Modern Philosophy
PHIL 382 Women and Philosophy
PHIL 425 Topics in Existentialism and Phenomenology
PLSI 351 Political Theory: The Classical Tradition (4)
PLSI 353 Political Theory: The Twentieth Century (4)
S S 510 Sociocultural Change
SOC 370 Theories of Society (4)
WOMS 530 Women Studies and Social Theory [topic courses]
WOMS 621 Feminist Thought
Analytical Courses--a set of courses concerned with the refinement and practical application of critical social thought in different social and historical settings. With prior approval of adviser, each minor shall elect nine units from this segment; courses here must be topically or thematically integrated with those from the theoretical segment. 9
Suggested Courses (other appropriate courses may be used with consent of adviser)
ANTH 321 Endangered Cultures  
ANTH 555 Urban Anthropology
ANTH 557 Ethnography of Inner City (4)
ANTH 569 Cross-cultural Aspects of Sex and Gender
ANTH/CST 590/WOMS 595 Anthropology of Women
CST 400 Topics in Critical Social Theory
CST 585 Multinational Corporations and World Cultures
BIOL 349 Bioethics
BL S 301 Africa in Global Perspective
BL S 302 Black Diaspora
BECA 485 Women and Media
CINE 373 Film and Society
HIST 400 History of Modern European Imperialism
HIST 474 History of Labor in the U.S.
HIST 535 History of Women in Latin America
HMSX 458 Introduction to Transgender Studies
ENG 634
Queer Masterpieces
I R 446 Multinational Corporations in World Affairs (4)
RAZA 415 Political Economy and Raza
RAZA 520 North and South American Cultural Expression
RAZA 660 Chicano/Latino Politics
PHIL 330 Political Philosophy
PLSI 354 Politics, the Environment, and Social Change (4)
PLSI 370 Classical Marxism (4)
PLSI 466 Racial Politics and the American Dream (4)
S S 350 Homosexuality as a Social Issue
S S 429 The Sixties
S S 520 Modernization and Third World Countries (4)
S S 540 Rich and Poor Nations (4)
S S 544 Women in the World (4)
SOC 469 Gender and Society (4)
SOC 483 Global Sociology (4)
SPCH 542 Intracultural Communication (4)
WOMS 514 Incarcerated Women
WOMS 531 Women and International Development
WOMS 541 Women Writers and Social Change
WOMS 561 Women of Color in the U.S.
WOMS 564 Women Writers and Colonialism
URBS 515 Race, Poverty, and the Urban Environment (4)
URBS 560 Urban Poverty and Policy (4)
URBS 565 Social Policy and Family Systems (4)
URBS 582 Homelessness and Public Policy
Integrative Seminar--required of all minors
CST 680 Integrative Seminar in Critical Social Thought 3
Minimum total 21-24

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