Social Relationships and Responsibilities: Theories and Critiques



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Office Hours: Tuesdays 11 AM-1:00 PM or by appointment

This section will explore the process of social identity formation in the United States through the lens of modern social theory. The goal of the class is to explore multiple perspectives on the formation of the state and individual rights within society. We will also study ideas of equality as well as the roles and responsibilities of individuals within their respective communities. The focus of the class will concern itself with the roots and application of “Western ideals” of freedom and equity that arguably form the basis for the United States’ liberal democracy.

The seminar will outline the genesis of democracy, the origins of the enlightenment and the basis for “natural” rights and freedoms in conjunction with the derived roles of society and government. We will then examine how the universalist ideals of the liberal enlightenment have implicitly or explicitly excluded those without property, people of color, women and underrepresented groups. Additionally, we will define what the “social compact” has meant in different periods of American history, and examine the relationship of various groups to this compact. Can liberal democracy really provide equal citizenship for workers, women, and people of color? How have the movements of socialism, reconstruction, decolonization, ethnic identity, gender diversity and feminism endeavored to reformulate and transform the social order?


Admissions to Fairhaven.

Materials Fee



C.Lemert, 7th ed., Social Theory:The Multicultural & Classic Readings (Westview: Perseus Books, 2021)  ISBN: 13: 978-0-8133-5002-8 (pbk)

M.J. Sandel, Justice: What’s The Right Thing To Do (NY: Farrar, Strauss, Giroux, 2009) ISBN: 978-0-374-18065-2


S/NX grading; narrative evaluation

Class discussion/Reaction-Perspective Papers/Group Term Project-Presentation.


Fall 2023

Course Instructor

Larry Estrada

Course Subject