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TITLE Popular Culture: Sixties Britain to Contemporary Times

LEVEL H - Higher Level


DEPARTMENT Centre for the Liberal Arts and Sciences

DESCRIPTION This Unit is designed to introduce students to the study of popular culture from Sixties Britain to contemporary times through the discussion of a range of socio-economic, historic and cultural conditions. The aim is to bring together under discussion diverse contributions to the development of the field of cultural studies that make sense of the social construction and representation of popular culture, especially during Sixties Britain. Such discussions focus also on the contribution of Vietnam and the anti-war movement, women’s movements, civil rights campaigns to popular culture. Attention is put on developing an understanding of different popular art forms, focusing on popular music and analyse their significance in the construction of identities, audiences, ethnicities and industries.

This Unit aims to develop a sociological imagination for analysing critically popular culture. Different art forms are referred to to make sense of the dissemination of popular messages that are often taken for granted. Emphasis is made on an understanding of the globalization of popular culture and the way ‘branded’ art forms are produced, distributed and consumed.

Learning Outcomes:

1. Knowledge & Understanding:

By the end of the Unit the student will be able to:

- Understand analytically and write about the social construction of popular culture;
- Acquire academic knowledge on theories within the field of cultural studies;
- Reflect on one’s own aesthetic judgment and taste by acquiring a sociological imagination.

2. Skills:

By the end of the Unit the student will be able to:

- Connect aesthetics and cultural knowledge to everyday life experiences and analyse critically popular culture;
- Identify with key concepts and themes in cultural studies;
- Explain the way social conditions impact on aesthetic judgment and taste;
- Employ critical thinking in the interpretation and sociological analysis of music recordings, photographs of art works and film materials that are used during lectures to stimulate discussion.

Main Text/s and any supplementary readings:

Main Text/s:

- Alexander, V. (2003) Sociology of the Arts, Exploring Fine and Popular Forms, Blackwell Publishing.
- McGuigan, J. (2009) Cool Capitalism, Pluto Press.
- Storey, J. (2003) Cultural Studies and the Study of Popular Culture, University of Georgia Press
- Donnelly, M. 2013, Sixties Britain: Culture, Society and Politics, Routledge; New York.
Supplementary readings:
- Barker,C. (2005) Cultural Studies, Theory and Practice: Sage Publication.
- Becker, H. (1982) Art Worlds, California: University of California Press.
- Berger, J. (1972) Ways of Seeing, Harmondsworth: Penguin.
- Bourdieu, P. (1984) Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgement of Taste, Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
- Bourdieu, P. (1993) The Field of Cultural Production, Oxford: Polity.
- Gombrich, E. H. (1964) The Story of Art, London: Phaidon Press.
- Nisbet, R. (2002 [1976]) Sociology as an Art Form, New Jersey: Transaction Publishers.
- Wolff, J. (1981) The Social Production of Art, London: Macmillan.
- Zolberg, V. (1990) Constructing a Sociology of the Arts, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

STUDY-UNIT TYPE Lecture and Seminar

Assessment Component/s Resit Availability Weighting
Presentation (20 Minutes) Yes 30%
Assignment Yes 70%


The University makes every effort to ensure that the published Courses Plans, Programmes of Study and Study-Unit information are complete and up-to-date at the time of publication. The University reserves the right to make changes in case errors are detected after publication.
The availability of optional units may be subject to timetabling constraints.
Units not attracting a sufficient number of registrations may be withdrawn without notice.
It should be noted that all the information in the study-unit description above applies to the academic year 2017/8, if study-unit is available during this academic year, and may be subject to change in subsequent years.
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