Studying online

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Unit Overview


This unit traces the development of major concepts in anthropological and sociological theory from Enlightenment schemas of social evolution to the modernist framework of structuralism. Topics treated may include, among other themes, the notion of the 'primitive', unilinear and multilinear frameworks of societal evolution and their impacts, materialism and idealism in social theory, attitudes toward the position of women in different societies, the rise and demise of varieties of functionalism, debates over the definition of culture, the relationship of anthropology and history, cultural ecology and the reconsideration of Marxist models. Consideration of seminal sociological theorists, such as Marx, Durkheim and Weber, is complemented by examination of key figures in the development of anthropological traditions of enquiry, such as Morgan, Boas, Malinowski, Mead, Levi-Strauss and others. The development of social thought leads into ANTH3402 Contemporary Social Thought.

6 points
Not available in 2024UWA (Perth)Face to face
Details for undergraduate courses
  • Level 2 elective

Students are able to (1) knowledge: demonstrate an understanding of key concepts in anthropology and sociology including cultural diversity, social inequality, the nature of social relationships and institutions, systems of symbolic meaning, and processes that underpin social and cultural change; (2) knowledge: demonstrate knowledge of anthropology and sociology as academic disciplines; an understanding of fundamental ideas underlying all of the social sciences; an understanding of the outlines of the history of social thinking; (3) skill: demonstrate an ability to critically review, analyse, sumarize and synthesise anthropological and sociological research and theory; demonstrate an ability to contrst the approaches of different theorists on similar topics; and contextualize the formation of theories against the socal and political conditions in which they arose; (4) skill: demonstrate an ability to formulate, investigate and discuss anthropologically and sociologically informed research questions and develop arguments based on a critical evaluation of evidence through an examination of how major theorists have undertaken research; and (5) engagement: demonstrate an ability to communicate anthropological and sociological ideas, principles and knowledge to specialist and non-specialist audiences using a range of formats (written, oral, visual etc.).


Indicative assessments in this unit are as follows: (1) participation; (2) assignments; and (3) in-class exercise. Further information is available in the unit outline.

Student may be offered supplementary assessment in this unit if they meet the eligibility criteria.

Unit Coordinator(s)
Adam Keen
Unit rules
Successful completion of
any 24 points of level 1 units from any disipline
ANTH2214 Development of Social Thought
Contact hours
up to 3 hours per teaching week
  • The availability of units in Semester 1, 2, etc. was correct at the time of publication but may be subject to change.
  • All students are responsible for identifying when they need assistance to improve their academic learning, research, English language and numeracy skills; seeking out the services and resources available to help them; and applying what they learn. Students are encouraged to register for free online support through GETSmart; to help themselves to the extensive range of resources on UWA's STUDYSmarter website; and to participate in WRITESmart and (ma+hs)Smart drop-ins and workshops.
  • Unit readings, including any essential textbooks, are listed in the unit outline for each unit, one week prior the commencement of study. The unit outline will be available via the LMS and the UWA Handbook one week prior the commencement of study. Reading lists and essential textbooks are subject to change each semester. Information on essential textbooks will also be made available on the Essential Textbooks. This website is updated regularly in the lead up to semester so content may change. It is recommended that students purchase essential textbooks for convenience due to the frequency with which they will be required during the unit. A limited number of textbooks will be made available from the Library in print and will also be made available online wherever possible. Essential textbooks can be purchased from the commercial vendors to secure the best deal. The Student Guild can provide assistance on where to purchase books if required. Books can be purchased second hand at the Guild Secondhand bookshop (second floor, Guild Village), which is located on campus.
  • Contact hours provide an indication of the type and extent of in-class activities this unit may contain. The total amount of student work (including contact hours, assessment time, and self-study) will approximate 150 hours per 6 credit points.