SO483      Half Unit
Social Change Organizations

This information is for the 2015/16 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Michael McQuarrie, STC S107


This course is available on the MSc in City Design and Social Science, MSc in Human Rights, MSc in Political Sociology, MSc in Sociology and MSc in Sociology (Research). This course is available as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

Course content

The purpose of this class is to familiarise students with organisational sociology from the perspective of organisations other than firms or governments. Organisations are one of the primary tools society has for realising values and interests. However, organisations are not simply tools. They constrain and enable action for social change in a variety of ways and shape the outcomes of our efforts. Attempting to realise social change using organisations creates a set of dilemmas that must be managed and dealt with for efforts to be successful. The course will focus on social movement organisations, NGOs, associations, cooperatives, communes, and the dilemmas that these organisations confront in attempting to realise their goal of a better society. The course will also familiarise students with the theoretical and analytical tools sociologists use to understand social change organisations.


20 hours of seminars in the LT.

The class format will be a combination of lectures, guest Q&A with leaders of social change organisations, and seminar discussion. Week 6 is a reading week.

Formative coursework

Formative coursework will consist of preparing and leading discussions, in-class analytical writing, and assignments meant to advance student work on the final essay.

Indicative reading

Katherine Chen, Enabling Creative Chaos

Monika Krause, The Good Project

Nina Eliasoph, Making Volunteers

James Ferguson, The Anti-Politics Machine

Timothy Mitchell, The Rule of Experts

David Graeber, The Democracy Project

Frances Fox Piven and Richard Cloward, Poor People's Movements

Charles Perrow, "A Society of Organizations"

Elisabeth Clemens and Mary Bernstein, "The Multi-Institutional Perspective"

V.I. Lenin "What is to be done?"

Joreen, "The Tyranny of Structurelessness"


Essay (100%, 4000 words) in the ST.

For their assessment students will complete an essay that does not exceed 4000 words in length. The essay will either be a review essay of the sociological literature on a topic related to social change organisations or an analysis of a social change organisation using the tools learned in the class.

Two hard copies of the assessed essay, with submission sheets attached to each, to be handed in to the Administration Office, S116, no later than 16:30 on the first Tuesday of Summer Term. An additional copy to be uploaded to Moodle no later than 18:00 on the same day.

Key facts

Department: Sociology

Total students 2014/15: Unavailable

Average class size 2014/15: Unavailable

Controlled access 2014/15: No

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Problem solving
  • Application of information skills
  • Communication