SOC787 Foundations of Cultural Sociology

Faculty of Social Studies
Spring 2015
Extent and Intensity
2/2. 10 credit(s). Type of Completion: zk (examination).
doc. Bernadette Nadya Jaworsky, Ph.D. (lecturer)
Mgr. Ali Türünz, Ph.D. (assistant)
prof. PhDr. Ladislav Rabušic, CSc.
Department of Sociology - Faculty of Social Studies
Contact Person: Ing. Soňa Enenkelová
Supplier department: Department of Sociology - Faculty of Social Studies
Wed 11:30–13:00 U35, Wed 11:30–13:00 U35
Course Enrolment Limitations
The course is also offered to the students of the fields other than those the course is directly associated with.
The capacity limit for the course is 15 student(s).
Current registration and enrolment status: enrolled: 0/15, only registered: 0/15, only registered with preference (fields directly associated with the programme): 0/15
Fields of study the course is directly associated with
there are 7 fields of study the course is directly associated with, display
Course objectives
Arguably, signs, symbols and meanings have always been the province of sociologists but not always their primary concern. Many believe we have finally taken or are in the midst of taking a “cultural turn” in contemporary sociology. Problems of meaning, discourse, aesthetics, value, textuality, and narrativity, topics traditionally within the purview of humanists, have come to the fore as sociologists increasingly emphasize the role of meanings, symbols, cultural frames and cognitive schema in their theorization of social processes and institutions. This course will chart such a move, providing a wide-ranging overview of the ways in which culture has been conceived and utilized in the evolution of contemporary cultural sociological thought, culminating in the Strong Program beginning in the 1990s in the United States.

Course Objectives:

By the end of the semester, students should be able to:
• Compare and contrast different sociological approaches to the study of culture
• Review and analyze patterns of historical change in the meanings of culture as a theoretical concept
• Recognize, define and discuss the debates concerning the sociological sub-disciplines of “cultural sociology” vs. “sociology of culture”
• Apply a sociological lens for analysis of cultural phenomena in various social spheres, including the state, the economy, the family, education, religion and civil society
• Critically reflect about their own cultural experiences in light of sociological and historical data
• To cultivate research proficiency and expertise by undertaking a semester-long research paper that involves primary sociological texts, the incorporation of a strong thesis and multiple drafts
  • Seminar 1: Introduction to course
  • Seminar 2: What is Culture? What is Cultural Sociology?
  • Seminar 3: Culture in Classical Social Theory
  • Seminar 4: The Durkheimians: Ritual, Classification, and the Sacred
  • Seminar 5: Structuralism and the Semiotic Analysis of Culture/ The Poststructural Turn
  • Seminar 6: Culture as Text
  • Seminar 7: No class – reading week
  • Seminar 8: The Strong Program in Cultural Sociology: Social Performance Theory
  • Seminar 9: Pushing Back against the Cultural Turn
  • Seminar 10 The Strong Program in Cultural Sociology: Classification & Binary Codes
  • Seminar 11: Pressing Issues: Race, Gender and the Body
  • Seminar 12: What to do with Cultural Sociology?
  • Seminar 13: The Strong Program in Cultural Sociology – Prospects for the Future
    required literature
  • Handbook of cultural sociology. Edited by John R. Hall - Laura Grindstaff - Ming-cheng Miriam Lo. New York, NY: Routledge, 2010. xxiii, 696. ISBN 9780415474450. info
  • Social performance : symbolic action, cultural pragmatics, and ritual. Edited by Jeffrey C. Alexander - Bernhard Giesen - Jason L. Mast. 1st pub. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006. xv, 374. ISBN 052167462X. info
  • ALEXANDER, Jeffrey C. The meanings of social life : a cultural sociology. New York: Oxford University Press, 2003. 296 p. ISBN 9780195306408. info
  • Cultural sociology. Edited by Lyn Spillman. 1st pub. Malden: Blackwell Publishers, 2002. xiv, 369 s. ISBN 0-631-21653-7. info
  • EDLES, Laura Desfor. Cultural sociology in practice. 1st pub. Malden: Blackwell Publishers, 2002. ix, 265 s. ISBN 0-631-21090-3. info
  • Culture and society : contemporary debates. Edited by Jeffrey C. Alexander - Steven Seidman. 1st pub. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990. vii, 375. ISBN 0521359392. info
Teaching methods
Conditions for passing the course:

1. Regular Attendance and active participation in seminar discussions (“Even to have expressed a false thought boldly and clearly is already to have gained a great deal.” Ludwig Wittgenstein)
2. Short (1-page) weekly discussion papers. (The papers should be a reaction/critical engagement rather than a simple summary of the readings assigned for the week. You should focus on the questions you want to ask in the class, or point to gaps and conflicts in one or more readings.)
3. Being a discussant for one assigned reading. (A discussant will be responsible for leading a discussion about one of the assigned readings.)
4. Written final exam (6 essay questions to be answered outside of class)
5. Final essay or research proposal (topic of student’s choice in consultation with instructor; 3,000-4,000 words; 10-12 pages)
Assessment methods
Particular activities of students will be evaluated as follows:

25% - reading, discussion papers and class participation
15% - discussant performance
25% - written exam
35% - research essay
Language of instruction
The course is also listed under the following terms Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2014.
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