Culture and Society

Term: Spring 2010

Subject Code: GSOC

Course Number: 5056

The course introduces students to contemporary approaches to the cultural dimension of social life. There is a strong emphasis on moving beyond the limited but still prevalent definition of culture as arts and developing a broader understanding of the place of culture in the constitution of social reality. The course examines theoretical debates about how to define culture and how to use culture in sociological analysis. It surveys alternative theoretical understandings of culture as power and ideology, as meaning, as a reflection of social structure, and as a resource for social action. It then covers a broad range of empirical topics, including cultural production and consumption, the role of culture in producing identities and reproducing social inequalities, and the relationship between subcultures and social resistance. The last part addresses macro-level processes such as the construction of national cultures and cultural difference as well as the cultural impact of globalisation. Throughout the course, special attention is paid to assessing the relationship between theories of culture, types of empirical evidence, and methods of analysing cultural forms and processes.

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