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Everett Price
Everett Price

Sociology Of Culture


The idea of a strong program carries with it the suggestions of an agenda. In what follows we discuss this agenda. We look first at the history of social theory, showing how this agenda failed to emerge until the 1960s. We go on to explore several contemporary traditions in the social scientific analysis of culture. We suggest that, despite appearances, each comprises a weak program, failing to meet in one way or another the defining criteria we have set forth here. We conclude by pointing to an emerging tradition of cultural sociology, most of it American, which in our view establishes the parameters of a strong program.




Sociology of Culture



All things considered, the sociological investigation of culture remains dominated by weak programs characterized by some combination of hermeneutic inadequacy, ambivalence over cultural autonomy, and poorly specified, abstract mechanisms for grounding culture in concrete social process. In this final section, we wish to discuss recent trends in cultural sociology where there are signs that a bona fide strong program might finally be emerging.


Inadequate as it may be, the work of Geertz provides a springboard for a strong program in cultural analysis. It indicates the need for the explication of meaning to be at the center of the intellectual agenda and offers a vigorous affirmation of cultural autonomy. What is missing, however, is a theory of culture that has autonomy built into the very fabric of meaning as well as a more robust understanding of social structure and institutional dynamics. We suggest, following Saussure, that a more structural approach towards culture helps with the first point. In addition, it initiates the movement towards general theory that Geertz avoids. In short, it can recognize the autonomy and the centrality of meaning, but does not develop a hermeneutics of the particular at the expense of a hermeneutics of the universal. We return to the promise of such a structural hermeneutics below.


We have suggested here that structuralism and hermeneutics can be made into fine bedfellows. The former offers possibilities for general theory construction, prediction and assertions of the autonomy of culture. The latter allows analysis to capture the texture and temper of social life. When complemented by attention to institutions and actors as causal intermediaries, we have the foundations of a robust cultural sociology. The argument we have made here for an emerging strong program has been slightly polemical in tone. This does not mean we disparage efforts to look at culture in other ways. If sociology is to remain healthy as a discipline, it should be able to support a theoretical pluralism and lively debate. There are important research questions, in fields from demography to stratification to economic and political life, to which weak programs can be expected make significant contributions. But it is equally important to make room for a genuinely cultural sociology. A first step toward this end is to speak out against false idols, to avoid the mistake of confusing reductionist sociology of culture approaches with a genuine strong program. Only in this way can the full promise of a cultural sociology be realized during the coming century.


This two-year research master is specially designed for academically talented and driven students, who have a nose for research in sociology, media studies, and arts and culture studies. The research master will train you to independently carry out high-quality research, at the same time giving you the chance to more clearly outline your own research interests, with the help of leading scholars in the field.


I can only say that I have never had the opportunity to develop myself at such a rapid pace as I currently can. It is certainly highly challenging, but for those interested in conducting research in sociology or media and arts studies, this is the programme for you.


This lesson introduces how sociologists think about culture. Culture is one of the fundamental elements of social life and, thus, an essential topic in sociology. Many of the concepts presented here will come up again in almost every subsequent lesson. Because culture is learned so slowly and incrementally, we are often unaware of how it becomes ingrained in our ways of thinking. Applying the sociological perspective to culture requires us to recognize the strangeness in our own culture. This lesson outlines the basics of studying culture and allows you to test potential relationships between television depictions of families and marriage rates. Although culture is familiar to us, you should be seeing it in a new and different way by the time you finish this lesson.


Students at UC San Diego can explore a full range of sociological inquiry through courses in such established fields as Third World development, law, culture, social movements, religion, race and ethnic relations, gender roles, medicine, and mental illness. In addition, students have the opportunity to participate in courses found in few other sociology departments, such as the politics of language, ethnographic film, the Holocaust, comparative sex stratification, mass media, and revolutions. The faculty also teach an exceptional array of courses focusing on specific societies or world regions, including Africa, Japan, China, Latin America, eastern Europe, the former Soviet Union, and the United States.


Thus, sociology is a valuable major for students who want to enter law, medicine, architecture, business, or politics. It also provides a solid liberal arts education for students who plan careers in such fields as criminal justice, public health, urban planning, social welfare, counseling, public administration, international relations, or market research. For students who wish to pursue graduate study in the social sciences for careers in teaching or scholarly research, an undergraduate degree from the Department of Sociology will provide a thorough grounding in recent theoretical and methodological advances in the discipline. A sociology major offers excellent preparation for teaching in the elementary schools. If you are interested in earning a California teaching credential from UC San Diego, contact the Education Studies Program for information about the prerequisite and professional preparation requirements. It is recommended that you contact the Education Studies Program as early as possible in your academic career. Whatever the career choice, the study of sociology can help the student cultivate a critical awareness of social life.


Students interested in majoring or minoring in sociology should stop by the Department of Sociology office, SSB 401, for program information and handouts. These clarify specific procedures and guidelines and provide recommendations for areas of specialization within the major, as well as for graduate studies and careers in sociology.


Students may choose to major in general sociology or in one of several concentrations, described below. Some basic requirements for the BA are common to all of these majors. All students must complete four lower-division and twelve upper-division courses in sociology.


Students may graduate with a BA in sociology/international studies by completing at least five of the following courses as part of the ten upper-division courses required for the major. This concentration would be especially appropriate for those interested in international business, foreign service, or international law.


Students may graduate with a BA in sociology/American studies by completing at least five of the following courses as part of the ten upper-division courses required for the major. This concentration is especially appropriate for those interested in careers in American politics, education, and social work.


Students may graduate with a BA in sociology/science and medicine by completing at least five of the following courses as part of the ten upper-division courses required for the major. This concentration is especially appropriate for those interested in careers in the health professions or technology-related fields.


Students may graduate with a BA in sociology/culture and communication by completing at least five of the following courses as part of the ten upper-division courses required for the major. This concentration is especially appropriate for those interested in careers related to education, the media, or marketing.


Students may graduate with a BA in sociology/social inequality by completing at least five of the following courses as part of the ten upper-division courses required for the major. This concentration is especially appropriate for those interested in social services and education.


Students may graduate with a BA in sociology/law and society by completing at least five of the following courses as part of the ten upper-division courses required for the major. This concentration is especially appropriate for those interested in careers in law and criminology.


Students may graduate with a BA in sociology/economy and society by completing at least five of the following courses as part of the ten upper-division courses required for the major. This concentration is especially appropriate for those interested in careers related to contemporary business.


Students transferring from a community college or other university may petition for sociology credit for courses taken at their previous institution. For students transferring from the California Community College System, articulation agreements for many courses have been developed that facilitate the petition process.


The minor consists of seven sociology courses: two lower division and five upper division. Unless colleges specify specific courses to be taken, the student may choose any two lower-division sociology courses (SOCI 1, 2, 10, 20, 30, 40, or 60) and any five upper-division courses (SOCI 100 to 190). Courses for the minor must be taken for a letter grade only. Special study courses or internships may not be applied toward the minor. 041b061a72


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