Rather than ask, ‘what is a concept?’ this course is concerned with showing how concepts are made in sociology and anthropology, how they are played out or performed in local contexts and the analytic dividend that is associated with such performances. Put simply, we will ask what is the work done by concepts and whether they enrich
or impoverish our understanding of social relationships. In a second move, the course will pick up forms of inquiry, such as definitions and factual descriptions to show how concepts appear. Do they point us to some abstract essence, or are they central to how we live our everyday lives? In negotiating with the above and in consultation with
students of the class the course will address any three the following questions.
1. How do we establish proof? What is the value of the archive and the library in arriving at verity?
2. Are there rules for the study of social facts?
3. How do we delimit the rationality of science and politics?
4. Are commodities bundles of social relatedness?
5. How are distinctions established in society, and what is the significance of hierarchy in establishing social privilege?
6. Is social power a relationship and what is its link to order and disorder?
7. Can the secular be separated from the sacred?
8. What is the force of visual images? Do they have any relation to our sense of well-being?