Sociology: Sociology of Power, Culture, and Society

Course content

Culture has become a popular lens to look at differences and conflicts in relations. But is culture still relevant for relations in globalized communities? Is not everybody to some extent a world citizen, not bound to local culture? And if culture remains relevant, what are the key differences: Is culture linked to our national background or rather to our professional education? Do a British academic and a British farmer have more or less in common than a British academic and a Chinese academic?

This course introduces you to the cultural aspects of relations in and amongst societies. After an introduction to sociological thinking, we study a sociological perspective of culture and discuss what happens when a stranger encounters a foreign culture. Many so‐called strangers, however, ʺcome today and stay tomorrowʺ. Such situations may lead to established‐outsider relations; we explore a case study of how such relations come about, even though there are no differences concerning, race, ethnicity, and nationality. In other cases, however, such phenomena do play a role. We discuss what racialization and flexible ethnicity are and how the lives of Mexican immigrants in the USA are shaped by this. Turning to Europe, we examine how different notions of ethnicity, nationhood, and citizenship affect the way in which receiving societies relate to migrants and the transnational social spaces of which migrants are often part. In a second part, the course extends its perspective beyond ethnocultural and national perspectives. We turn our attention to the many ways in which relations within societies are shaped by different cultural practices. Notions such as cultural capital and subculture provide us with an understanding of how culture is linked to status positions and power relations within societies and how certain ways of living can be seen as resistance to the mainstream in any given society. Finally, we look at how two realms of wide‐spread mobility‐related practices and cognitive modes constitute specific intercultural relations: We look at how tourism (a field of activity we all engage in to some extent) may shape our views of ʺother culturesʺ, and we discuss how cosmopolitanism may provide a framework for dealing with the cultural complexity we encounter nowadays.

In the second and third year of the Bachelorʹs level, there are thematic areas of concentration within the contextual studies. This course introduces you to topics that you could further pursue in the concentration areas society or cultures. Course structure and indications of the learning and teaching design

This course is designed as an interactive seminar, i.e. students are expected to read the text for each lesson in advance and to participate in the discussion of the texts in class. Some of the texts are introductory in nature, some of them are more advanced and may be more difficult to understand. In each lesson, we discuss the difficulties that you experienced in comprehending the texts. We thoroughly discuss what kind of questions the texts answers, which ones remain unanswered and what other questions they pose.

Course literature

For each session, weʹll use one social‐science text. Details about the literature will be announced on StudyNet (by 19 September 2022). Please consult the StudyNet entry and download all texts. Please do so in advance and read the first text as preparation for the first class.