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Unit information: Introduction to the Sociology of Culture in 2019/20

Please note: Due to alternative arrangements for teaching and assessment in place from 18 March 2020 to mitigate against the restrictions in place due to COVID-19, information shown for 2019/20 may not always be accurate.

Please note: you are viewing unit and programme information for a past academic year. Please see the current academic year for up to date information.

Unit name Introduction to the Sociology of Culture
Unit code SOCI10009
Credit points 20
Level of study C/4
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Jo Haynes
Open unit status Not open




School/department School of Sociology, Politics and International Studies
Faculty Faculty of Social Sciences and Law

Description including Unit Aims

Culture is a crucial aspect of contemporary life and has become an increasingly important area of sociological study. This unit will critically explore some of the key ways that culture has been understood and its significance for contemporary social and political life. The unit draws on debates in sociology and cultural studies, considering a number of theoretical approaches to the meaning and construction of culture, representation, popular and mass culture, consumer society and postmodernism. By exploring substantive topics such as digitisation, social media, cultural authenticity and racial stereotyping, this unit will introduce the key aspects and dynamics of culture and the relationship between culture and other forms of social power.

Aims of the Unit:

  • To explore the importance of culture in modern society
  • To compare different theoretical approaches to the study of culture
  • To discuss how power relations affect cultural representation
  • To provide students with knowledge of a range of contemporary cultural issues
  • To encourage critical engagement with media

Intended Learning Outcomes

By the end of the unit, students should be able to:

  • Show an understanding of the socially constructed nature of culture
  • Evaluate different sociological approaches to culture
  • Critically discuss the relationship between cultural production and consumption
  • Apply sociological insights to contemporary issues in culture

Teaching Information

Two hours of lectures and one hour of seminars per week

Assessment Information

Formative assessment: 1200 word essay.

Summative assessment: 2000 word essay (assesses all learning outcomes).

Reading and References

Bennett, A. (2005) Culture and Everyday Life London: Sage Publications

Gray, A. and Mc Guigan, J. (eds) Studying Culture: an Introductory Reader London: Edward Arnold.

Hesmondhalgh, D. (2007) The Cultural Industries (second edition) London: Sage Publications.

Jenkins, H. (2006) Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide New York University Press

Strinati, D. (2004) An Introduction to Theories of Popular Culture (second edition) London: Routledge.