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Unit information: Cultural Representation in 2020/21

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Unit name Cultural Representation
Unit code SOCI30063
Credit points 20
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
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

The unit examines the issue of cultural identity and relations of power between individuals/groups and representational and discursive practices. Key theoretical and methodological frameworks for studying culture, identity and representations will be introduced. It examines how identities and subjectivities are created through systems of representation involving complex articulations of class, race, gender, sexuality, nation and culture. It also considers representations of the ‘Other’ and what it means to challenge or resist dominant representations. It will introduce students to a body of work from sociology and cultural studies in order to contemplate the significance of cultural differences in the construction and commodification of contemporary identities and within wider debates about the historically situated ordering of reality. Examples will be considered from a range of media and cultural sources such as music, advertising, film, TV, the internet and sport.

The unit aims are:

  • to analyze the impact of modern forms of representation on individual, social and group identity
  • to explore different ways of conceptualising difference
  • to familiarise students with a body of sociological theories which seek to explain the complex relationship between subjects, representation and social power
  • to encourage a critical approach to studying media and cultural forms

Intended Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of the unit, students will be able to:

  1. discuss the wider implications of the social and political significance of representations
  2. critically evaluate different conceptual approaches to difference
  3. recognise and interpret relations of power in mediated forms of representation
  4. analyse a range of representations across media and cultural forms

Teaching Information

The unit will be taught through blended learning methods, including a mix of synchronous and asynchronous teaching activities

Assessment Information

Formative: 1500 word essay

Summative: 3000 word essay

Both essays will address learning outcomes 1, 2, 3 and 4 by offering students a range of questions that ask them to draw on substantive and theoretical material covered across the unit. The essays will also offer an opportunity to apply their understanding to a range of contemporary issues appropriate to the essay questions.

Reading and References

  • Donald, J. & Rattansi, A. (1992) (eds) Race Culture and Difference London: Sage Publications.
  • Dyer, R. (2003) The Matter of Images: Essays on Representation London: Routledge.
  • Hall, S. (1997) (ed.) Representation: Cultural Representations and Signification Practices (London: Sage Publications).
  • Lippmann, W. (1956) Public Opinion New York: Macmillan.
  • Pickering, M. (2001) Stereotyping: The Politics of Representation London: Palgrave Macmillan.