Undergraduate Programs

Cluster 1: Media, Culture, and Society

The study of societies as spaces in which shared meanings are constructed, circulated, and contested reaches back to Max Weber and Emile Durkheim. Today, cultural sociologists explore the ways in which meanings are established and transformed in settings that range from restaurant kitchens to social movement organizations.

It is impossible to understand fully the shared meanings in any contemporary context without studying the mass media. Some sociologists examine the ways the media express and question shared meanings, while others focus on the media as tools of power that benefit some and disadvantage others. Still others look at the role of media in human interaction and community building.

While sociologists are profoundly interested in the structural and material conditions that shape social life (e.g., the economy, governmental policies, and educational opportunities), they are equally aware that the ways in which people understand the world shape their behavior. In the study of race, for example, it is the elaborate system of meaning attached to people of different races that renders these differences so deeply consequential. What’s more, while each individual interprets the world and actively "makes meaning," shared meanings (e.g., values, norms, symbols, and beliefs) serve both as glue that allows us to interact in meaningful ways and as critical sites of conflict. The Barbie doll, for example, is a toy of contention, precisely because of the diverging meanings that we attach to it. For some she represents nostalgia and wholesomeness, while for others she symbolizes a narrow conception of female beauty.

Sociology majors who take the cluster of courses grouped as Media, Culture, and Society will learn to question and reflect on the media and their content and become more than passive consumers of what they see and hear. Some of the questions they will confront in their courses are the following: How do the news media construct a story? What stories don't they present, and why? To what extent is what we "know" from our exposure to the media inconsistent with what sociological research has found? How does media content affect our attitudes and behavior, and how do our attitudes and behavior influence media content?

Elective courses for the Media, Culture, and Society cluster
The Media, Culture, and Society cluster requires completion of four (4) of the following Sociology courses:

  • SOC 23: Self and Society
  • SOC 40: Media and Society
  • SOC 94-01: Youth Culture OR Youth Subculture
  • SOC 94-03: Music in Social Context
  • SOC 94-07: Sociology of Sports
  • SOC 94-08: Education and Culture
  • SOC 149FT: Sociology of Travel & Tourism
  • SOC 149-05: Consumers & Consumerism
  • SOC 149-12: Death & Dying
  • SOC 149-15: Sociology of the Body
  • SOC 149-16: Crime, Justice & the Media
  • SOC 185: Seminar in Mass Media
  • SOC 188-04: Consumers and Consumerism
  • SOC 188-06: Seminar: Body, Culture, and Society
  • SOC 188-08: Seminar: Identity & Inequality
  • SOC 190: Seminar: Immigration: Public Opinion, Politics & the Media
  • SOC 194-99: Crime, Justice & Media
  • SOC 198: Directed Research in Sociology
  • SOC 199: Senior Honors Thesis