Elliott/SOCI 381 Spring 2022 First Exam Study Guide 1. Background What is

Elliott/SOCI 381 Spring 2022
First Exam Study Guide
1. Background
What is ‘classical sociological theory’ (CST) and why do we continue to study it today?
What elements of Enlightenment philosophy did CST adopt in the 19th century?
2. Adam Smith and the Rational Choice Tradition
What gives rise to the division of labor in modern, industrial societies?
What are some advantages of the division of labor?
How is the division of labor related to the expansion of markets?
What policy recommendations follow from Smith’s arguments in The Wealth of Nations?
What are the basic assumptions of rational choice theory?
What is the “free rider” problem?
What is meant by constraints, and how are they used to make predictions about behavior?
How can groups overcome the free-rider problem (i.e., what factors determine how much
solidarity a group will have)?
How is religious worship a “rational” endeavor, according to Stark?
Why are monotheistic religions more effective at sustaining long-term commitment among
Based on the article by Kroneberg et al. and our discussion in class, what criticisms can you offer
about rational choice theory? What kinds of behaviors are easier for this theory to explain?
What kinds are harder?
3. Karl Marx and the Marxist Tradition
What does it mean to say that all history thus far is the “history of class struggles”?
Why are the “ruling ideas” those of the ruling class? What were the ruling ideas in Marx’s time?
What is the source of all value, in Marx’s analysis?
What is the distinction between use value and exchange value?
What is meant by “necessary” labor time?
What is surplus value? How is it related to exploitation? Why did Marx call it “dead labor”?
What determines class position, and what are the two great classes of 19th-century capitalism?
Why is the bourgeoisie seen as a progressive revolutionary class?
What is class consciousness? Why is class consciousness difficult to achieve among the
proletariat? Why is it stronger among the bourgeoisie?
How does capitalism inevitably dig its own grave through its internal contradictions? What are
these contradictions and why are they inevitable?
How does capitalism lead to alienation for the worker, according to Marx? What forms of
alienation does it produce?
Jaffe shares similar concerns about the modern-day workplace: How has work changed in the
United States starting in the 1970s (what kind of jobs do we specialize in now)? How are we
still alienated in these jobs? Why do we put up with it (i.e., what myths help sustain our
How would capitalism be overthrown? What is the role of the communist party in building
What is the role of the proletariat under socialism? What kind of policies must be put into place
to pave the way for communism?
What are the main differences between communism and capitalism, in Marx’s view?
What kinds of strategic advice or political implications follow from Marx’s work? What criticisms have been lodged against Marxist theory, and how do Marxists respond to them?
What is ‘basic income’ according to Wright? How would it represent a viable socialist
alternative to capitalism in the United States?