Postgraduate studies

Honours Degree

The honours degree can be completed over one year (full time) or two years (part time) and entails compulsory scheduled contact sessions where critical discussions take place, the completion of written assignments, presentations and practical work.

Degree structure: The degree consists of four compulsory modules: Sociological Theory, Research Methodology, The Sociology of Population and the Environment, and the Sociology of Consumerism and Consumption.

Selection criteria: Students are considered for admission on the grounds of the following: A Baccalaureus degree with Sociology as a major; a minimum average of 60% for Sociology at undergraduate level; consistently good overall performance at undergraduate level; and a satisfactory score in the TALPS-language ability test. Based on these criteria, a selection committee at departmental level decides whether a student is accepted for the Honours programme.

Application procedure: Prospective students should download an application form at the bottom of this page. Submit the completed form, together with the necessary documentation to the Honours Degree Coordinator. The departmental selection committee convenes in November to consider all applications and students are notified by the end of November whether their application has been successful. After this process has been completed students can proceed to register formally at the University.

The following sociology modules are offered by the Department of Sociology in the Honours degree:

SOCC6808: The advanced study of the sociology of consumerism and consumption.

Consumption permeates virtually every aspect of life in society, it encompasses life activity – even a mode of life – rather than particular moments of living. SOCC6808 seeks to explore the complex, ever-changing world of consumerism and consumption. Contemporary South African society is a consumer society – a society where core social practices and cultural values, ideas, aspirations and identities are defined and oriented in relation to consumption rather than to other social dimensions such as work or citizenship, religious cosmology or military roles. A sociology of consumerism and consumption encompasses issues pertaining to social values and norms, social status and social structures (from a functionalist and/or structural perspective); inequalities, power, social differentiation and conflicts (from a conflict perspective); the emergence of new forms of identity(ies) and new constructions of meaning, the pervasive concern of the ecological impact, a renewed interest in negotiation between structure and agency and between the micro- and the macro realm. It is therefore important that students of sociology take cognisance of consumerism as an ideology that drives economic, political and social life and of consumption as a significant social force that contributes to social change through which individual agents in society derive meaning. Consumption extends wider than the consumption of material goods to also include non-material goods such as technology, knowledge, health, culture, etc.

This module provides an academic space in which students and academic peers as members of society are able to contextualise and critically reflect on consumerism and consumption in society. Consumerism and consumption as a focus area offers the department and its students the opportunity to start developing a new and relevant area which is currently not well researched in the South African context. There is no doubt that given the pervasiveness of consumption in society, sociologists will increasingly start focusing on this issue.

SOCC6808 seeks to achieve the following outcomes & objectives:

  • To understand the contested meanings and definitions of consumerism and consumption.
  • To explore the historical moments that define the evolution of modern consumption and consumerism.
  • To conceptualise and understand consumption from several different theoretical perspectives.
  • To track the transition in ideas concerning consumption and its transformation throughout modern history.
  • To understand how gender, sexuality, race and religion intersect with consumption.
  • To understand how consumers seek to cope and survive the complexities and contradictions of consumer society.
  • To consider how consumption can be the means to achieve social and political goals for both consumers and governments.
  • To reveal the conditions (and consumer responses) produced by the endemic consequences of global production and consumption.

SOCP6808: The sociology of population and the environment

This course focuses on the relationship between the social and the natural environment, and specifically on the intersection between population, environmental and developmental (PED) issues. Besides aspects which have a bearing on the quality of the ecosystem in which we live, such as demographic changes and development needs, attention is also devoted to development issues which again impact on the environment. The aim of this course is not only to gain insight into the nature of population dynamics and an understanding of population/ environment and development linkages, but also to equip the student in such a way that he/she will be able to play a part in an interdisciplinary context, thereby contributing towards the pursuit of a more sustainable society.

As far as this course is concerned, this means not only exposure to (and sensitising in respect of) global demographic and environmental issues, but above all the developing of an ability to draw parallels between global issues and those in one’s own society, and also learning to judge and evaluate possible solutions to such problems.

SOCP6808 seeks to achieve the following outcomes & objectives:

  • To demonstrate an understanding of the multifaceted interface between population changes, environmental impacts and development needs.
  • To be able to practically apply the basic PED concepts and indicators to illustrate the linkages between the three issues (population changes, environmental impacts and developmental needs).

SOCR6808: Social Research

Our understanding of the world around us broadens and deepens if we become aware of it as a continuously changing reality with different facets. The research process enables us to acquire this knowledge and to develop a better understanding of the surrounding reality. In this module, you are going to be taught in logical interdependent steps how to scientifically approach, investigate and give account of your conclusions of a problem or issue. In this way, the research process becomes a school in which you can learn to become acquainted with social realities in all their interesting facets and full diversity. Whatever the motivation for our research might be, in one way or the other it satisfies our craving for more knowledge and deeper understanding, answers the diverse questions that we continue to ask about the world around us and justifies our role and function as scientists in this world. In this sense Chadwick, Bahr and Albrecht (1984:20-21) remark: “It is sometimes claimed that scientists do research for the satisfaction of getting knowledge; one does research to learn. The personal appreciation of understanding apparently was a major motivation for the sociologist Robert Park, who described the justification for his embarking on a career as a journalist, and later as a sociologist, in these words: ‘I conceived a scheme of life that should be devoted to merely seeing and knowing the world without any practical aims whatever…. I made up my mind to go in for experience for its own sake, to gather into my soul as Faust somewhere says ‘all joys and sorrows of the world’ (Rauschenbusch, 1979:15).

Another reason for doing research is the hope that the results will help to solve some problem or improve conditions in some way. This justification for research may lead to disillusionment, for many times research findings obtained at great cost are ignored. Nevertheless, the wish that one’s research will make the world better continues to provide the psychic and organizational fuel for many studies. The scientific approach to a problem or question requires much more than the knowledge that you will gain from this course alone. It will be advisable to regard and approach the total honours course as a unity. You will need the knowledge that you will acquire from the theoretical course and in your specialty courses.

SOCR6808 seeks to achieve the following outcomes & objectives:

  • To indicate HOW the research process proceeds and touches on the underlying METATHEORETICAL foundations of research.
  • For specialised staff members to accompany you to make sure that you acquire the necessary theoretical knowledge and technical skills to be able to carry out the different steps of the research process as such. In reality, the research project should be seen as the culmination of your sociological knowledge.

SOCT6808: Social Theory

Why do we do social theory? Why can it be considered the cornerstone of understanding academic and worldly endeavours? Most social theorists wanted (and still want) to develop social theory as they were interested to find explanations for social processes not simply from a detached interest but from a deep involvement in the fate of humankind. There is therefore an expressed need for some of these theorists to improve humanity’s capacity to shape the course of social processes or at least to avert their worst outcomes. Despite the promises of progress, civilisation, development, and technology, our contemporary contexts continue to be fraught with contradictions, tensions, and recurrences of past errors that have led to unutterable atrocities. As sociologists, we should strive to reflect on the issues of our time, by using the “sociological imagination” in order to develop a better awareness that relates to our societies. This enhanced “comprehension” is aptly described by Hannah Arendt:

Comprehension does not mean denying the outrageous, deducing the unprecedented from precedents, or explaining phenomena by such analogies and generalities that the impact of reality and the shock of experience are no longer felt. It means, rather, examining and bearing consciously the burden which our century has placed on us – neither denying its existence nor submitting meekly to its weight. Comprehension, in short, means the unpremeditated, attentive facing up to, and resisting, of reality – whatever it may be (Arendt, 1951: viii).

SOCT6808 seeks to achieve the following outcomes & objectives:

  • Through the lens of the critical theorists, we look at the current state of our post-modern societies, engage with salient notions such as alienation, reification, “post-truth”, and the critique of Enlightenment promises.
  • We will also focus on the reading of Arendt and her controversial phrase of the “banality of evil”, understanding this expression in light of the bureaucratisation of so many aspects of our lives.
  • We also look into the origins and consequences of identity politics as it manifests in our contemporary societies.

All Sociology Honours degree applications must be sent to:

  • Dr Sethulego Matebesi
  • Office: Room 9 (South Block)
  • T: +27 51 401 2590
  • E: matebsz@ufs.ac.za

FACULTY CONTACT

T: +27 51 401 2240 or humanities@ufs.ac.za

Postgraduate:
Marizanne Cloete: +27 51 401 2592

Undergraduate:
Katlego Mabulana: +27 51 401 2495
Nhlamulo (Lucky) Hlongwane: +27 51 401 3519
Juanita Hlongwane: +27 51 401 3269

Humanities photo next to contact block