When I teach, I refuse to separate social theory from more empirically grounded material. Certainly, my contemporary theory courses involve an overwhelming emphasis on theory. And conversely, my political, urban, and global sociology classes focus on subject matter relevant to those titles. But I am intransigent about one point: theory is that which allows us to ask questions about the social world. This means that I always have students think theory in relation to that social world – their social world. In theory courses, this entails moving from high levels of abstraction to the level of our actual experience and back again. In my other classes, this means using theory to ask critical questions about existing bodies of literature. And of course, I always emphasize the critical. In my classes, we leave our assumptions at the door, and through sustained discussions, exchanges, and dialogue, we work together to build common understandings that build upon, yet transcend, what we thought we already knew.
This semester at UNCG, I am teaching two courses: