The Centre for the Study of Gender, Culture and Social Processes (CGCSP), St. Stephens College is offering a two-month Certificate Course titled “Understanding Society”, between 5th September - 5th November 2012. The course will be conducted by Dr. Achla Pritam Tandon (Hindu College) and Dr. Gopi Devdutt Tripathy (Maitreyi College). All those who are interested, are requested to submit a letter of interest along with a short bio-note to achlatandon@yahoo.co.in or to Dr. Karen Gabriel, St. Stephens College by 31st August 2012.

 Contact Numbers

-          Gopi Tripathy 09810139675 (4.00 pm – 5.00 pm)

-          Achla Tandon 09810232358 (5.00 pm - 6.00 pm)

 Course Eligibility

The minimum eligibility for any applicant is that they must be an undergraduate student (of Delhi University or elsewhere).

 Course Fee

The nominal all-inclusive course fee is Rs. 1500/-

Course Objective

The Course aims to acquaint students with the discipline of Sociology & familiarize them with the ‘how’ and ‘why’ of our actions/interactions. This will enhance students’ understanding of their social world and deepen their analytical skills. Students will gain a deeper insight into the constitution and negotiations of their everyday world and their location in it. They will also be able to develop an understanding of the interplay between gender, culture and social processes, which is the prime focus of the Centre.

The evaluation will be on the basis of an assignment/project to be submitted at the end of the course. No tests or exams will be held. A certificate will be awarded to those who fulfill the course requirements. Most of the sessions will be interactive, with students being expected to read the references, for the purpose of discussion in every class. A course pack of all the readings will be handed out at the beginning of the course.


Sessions will be held from
5th September to 5th November 2012 on Mondays (2.30 – 4.30 P.M.) &
Wednesdays (2.30 – 3.30 P.M.).


Content of Certificate Course in “Understanding of Society”

 Course Instructors:   Dr. Achla PritamTandon, Ph.D, JNU.

                                  Dr. Gopi Devdutt Tripathy, Ph.D, JNU.


Duration of Course – 2 months (August – October, three sessions per week)

 Course Outline:                                                                                    


  1. What is Sociology?                                                                           3

  2. Methods and Research                                                                     3

  3. Culture and Socialisation                                                                   3

  4. Families and Intimate Relationships                                                  3

  5. Social Stratification                                                                           4

  6. Crime and Deviance                                                                          3

  7. A Sociological Understanding of Indian Society                                   5

 Detailed Course Outline
Certificate Course in “Understanding Society”

 Duration of Course: 2 months (August - October, three sessions a week)

 Course content:

 1. What is Sociology?

     - The Sociological Imagination

     - Sociological analysis v/s Common Sense understanding

     - Important Theoretical Perspectives


1.     Mills, C.W. – 1970 – The Sociological Imagination – Chapter: The Promise (Harmondsworth: Penguin)

2.     Beteille – 2006 – Sociology: Methods and Approaches – Chapter: Sociology and Common Sense (Oxford University Press)

3.     Giddens, Anthony – 2009 – Sociology – Chapter: What is Sociology? (Polity)


Starting with C.W. Mills’ work, which argued that everyday life, including our thoughts, decisions and actions are the product of a complex interplay between societal forces and personal characteristics, students would be enabled to have a fresh perspective of themselves and their location in society. This understanding would also help them to disengage themselves from a merely commonsensical approach and ground it within certain theoretical paradigms.

 2. Methods and Research

     - Research methods and research strategies

     - Classifying, displaying and using data

     - The Ethics of Social research


1.   Fulcher, James and Scott, John – 2006 – Sociology – Chapter: Chapter 3, Methods and Research (Oxford University Press)

2.   Steve Taylor – 1999 – Sociology: Issues and Debates – Chapters: Chapter 2 – Methodology by Ray Pawson (Macmillan)

This section would give an overview of the range of sociological methods and the kind of evidence used in sociological work. It looks at the principal styles of social research and the ways in which they compliment one another; to enable students to understand statistical data. Finally, this section would also look at the effect of research on the people studied, including Sociologists themselves, delving into their ethical responsibilities. Students would be able to understand the significance of Epistemology, Ontology and methods in various research strategies.


3. Culture and Socialization

-        Nature and Nurture

-        Values and Beliefs

-        Norms

-        Ethnocentrism

-        Introduction to McDonaldisation

-        Social Isolation

-        The Social Self

-        Agents of Socialization



  1. Macionis, John J. – 2005 – Sociology – Chapters: Cultures (Pg. 56-79), Chapter 5 – Socialisation (Pearson – Xth Edition)

  2. Ritzer, George – 2004 – The McDonaldisation of Society – Chapters: Chapter 1 – An Introduction to McDonaldisation (Pine Forge)


In this section, students would be introduced to the idea of internalization of values; the process whereby societies have structural continuity over time. There would be brief discussions on components of culture, as well as the dimension of cultural change.


4. Families and Intimate Relationships

-        Challenges to the concept of family.

-        Alternatives to traditional marriage and family life

-        Debate about family values

-        Inequality within family



1.   Giddens, Anthony – 2009 – Sociology – Polity

2.   Jackson, Stevi – 1999 – Families, Households and Domestic Life in Taylor, Steve ed. Sociolgy: Issues and Debates (Macmillan)


This section aims to examine contemporary debates about family and domestic life. Discussions would be around issues like inequalities within families, intimate violence, alternatives to marriage and family life.


5. Social Stratification

-        Caste

-        Class

-        Ethnicity

-        Race

-        Gender



1.     Macionis, John J – 2005 – Sociology – Chapters: Chapter 10, 13 and 14 – Social Stratification (Pearson)


In this section, discussions would be around the idea of a system by which a society ranks categories of people in a hierarchy. Briefly, students would be acquainted to the various forms of inequality like caste, class, race, ethnicity and gender.


6. Crime and Deviance

-        Sociological approaches to Crime and Delinquency

-        Current issues

-        Deviance and Social Diversity



1.     Macionis, John J. – 2005 – Sociology (Pearson)

2.     Downes, Davis – 1999 – Crime and Deviance in Steve D. Taylor ed. – Sociology: Issues and Debates (Macmillan)

 While examining the issue of crime and deviance, one would be explaining not only why deviance occurs, but also why and how some actions are defined as deviant/criminal and why and how sanctions are applied to offenders.

 7. A Sociological Understanding of Indian Society


-        Structure of Indian Society

-        Dalit Movement in India

-        Women’s Movement in India

-        Secularism

-        Re-imagining India



1.     Srinivas, M. N. – 1969, 1980 – India: Social Structure (New Delhi, Hindustan Publishing Corporation)

2.     Shah, G. – 2001 – Dalit Identity and Politics – Chapters – Chapter 1

3.     Menon, N – 1999 – Gender and Politics in India – Pg. 342-369 (New Delhi, Oxford University Press)

4.     Madan, T. N. – 1997 – Modern Myths, Locked Minds – Chapters: Chapter 8 (New Delhi, Oxford University Press)

5.     Parekh, Bhiku – 2010 - Re-imagining India in Re-imagining India and Other Essays (Orient Blackswan)

The aim of this course is to enable students to develop  Sociological Imagination. In this section, students would be able to apply this ‘quality of mind’ in order to understand themselves and their own society.

Dr. Achla Pritam Tandon:

 Dr. Achla Tandon is Associate Professor at the Department of Sociology, Hindu College. Her Ph.D. from the School of Social Sciences, JNU was on 'Ideology of the Press'. Her M.Phil. from JNU was on 'a sociological analysis of distance education.’ In 1998 she had coordinated an International Labour Organisation-Media Studies Group Project on Women Workers Rights and Dissemination of Information by the Media.

From 2000-2004, she was a Research Associate at the Department of Social Anthropology, University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South.Africa for post doctoral study on traditional healing practices, sexual behaviour and HIV-AIDS. She has presented papers on 'women workers rights and coverage by the media' (Jaipur and Bangalore) as well as 'Speculation in Crime Reporting-India and South Africa' (Johannesburg). She was a member of the selection committee for Ford Foundation International Fellowships for Leadership Programme, 2006-2007. In 2011, she coordinated a workshop on Qualitative Research Methodology held at Hindu College in collaboration with Indian Association of Social Sciences.


Dr. Gopi Devdutt Tripathy:

Dr. Gopi Devditt Tripathy is Associate Professor at the Department of Sociology, Maitreyi College. Her Ph.D. from School of Social Sciences, JNU was on the ‘Commemoration of the Martyrdom of Hussein; A Sociological Exploration of the Shia World View.’ Her M.Phil. from the Department of Sociology, Delhi School of Economics, was on ‘Dharma and Devotion in Popular Hindu Mythology ; A Study of Nine Siva Kathas.’ She has written and published papers on Religious Dissent and Contemplation and on Literature as Ethnography. She has also written and published book reviews in Contribution to Indian Sociology. She has organized sensitizing workshops on issues such as Gender Relations, and Racial Discrimination in Everyday Life. She has also taught University of London courses in Sociology at their centres in India.


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