[SI0134] - Sociology of Culture
Module Code: SI0134
Module Leader: Bella Dicks
Number of Credits: 20
Teaching Method: Lectures and seminars.
Assessment: Coursework (essays) 3500 words (50%) - Autumn Semester; Written examination 2 hours (50%) - Spring Semester
Degree Schemes: Social Science; Sociology; BPS Social Science
From X Factor to opera, from museums to theme parks, everything seems to qualify as 'culture' today. But what is culture? Students following this module will understand there is no single or easy answer. Instead, they will gain the theoretical and analytical skills and knowledge to appreciate the complexity of culture in society today.
The module will introduce students to a range of theoretical and analytical approaches to the study of culture and its relation to society. It will draw attention to the implications of viewing culture as both the lived experiences of social groups and as a discursive field of representations.
Knowledge and Comprehension
- Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of key theoretical debates on culture.
- Show understanding of the difficulties of defining culture
Skills (Application and Analysis)
- Relate the study of culture to key sociological concepts.
- Analyse examples of cultural practice and apply theoretical knowledge to them.
Understanding (Synthesis and Evaluation)
- Distinguish different theoretical traditions and assess their relative merits.
- Understand the major schools of thought on culture and how they have evolved and changed;
- Grasp the relationships between culture, social organisation, politics and the economy.
The module will contribute to the development of the following transferable skills: Analytical Skills, generation of structured arguments, criticism, comparison, textual analysis, advanced reading and comprehension.
Synopsis of Module Content
Part 1: Foundations of culture in social theory:
- Culture as function: culture and civilisation; Durkheim: ritual, function and structure; Culture and anthropology: culture and ethnography.
- Culture as domination: Marxism, theories of ideology; Weber and legitimating culture.
- Culture as action: the self; symbolic interactionism, ethnomethodology.
Part 2: The linguistic turn
- Culture as signification; semiotics and social semiotics , structuralism and poststructuralism, discourse theory.
Part 3: Culture, consumption, identities (selected cultural analyses)
Opportunities for Formative Assessment
Students will have the opportunity to complete a piece of non-assessed coursework at the end of the first semester.
Arrangements for Feedback on Work
Feedback through face-to-face meetings, on Learning Central and through written comments.
Szeman, I. and Kaposy, T. (2011) Cultural Theory: an Anthology. Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell
Hall, J.R., Neitz, M.J. and Batlani, M. (2003) Sociology on Culture, London and New York: Routledge
Jenks, C. (1993) Culture London & New York: Routledge
Kendall, G. and Wickham, G. (2001) Understanding Culture. London: Sage.
Smith, M.J. (2000) Culture, Buckingham: Open University Press.
Smith, P. (2001) Cultural Theory An Introduction. Oxford: Blackwell.
Storey, J. (1997) Cultural Theory and Popular Culture: A Reader 2nd Edition. London: Harvester Wheatsheaf.
Storey, J. (2001) Cultural Theory and Popular Culture: An Introduction 3rd Edition. Harlow: Pearson Education Ltd.