Study-Unit Description

Study-Unit Description


TITLE Sociology of Island Life

LEVEL 01 - Year 1 in Modular Undergraduate Course



DESCRIPTION Islandness and smallness are two important conceptual and organising categories in the social sciences which have tended to be underplayed: by social actors, in social structures and by those purporting to analyse these same actors and structures. Increasingly, a corpus of knowledge and empirical observation is suggesting that the inter-disciplinary study of small islands on their own terms is a valid research domain and a relevant frame for conceptualising policy and/or sharpening critique.

Study-unit Aims:

This study-unit seeks to fulfil the following broad and inter-connected aims:
- to invite students to look upon aspects of island life with a critical eye, where possible comparing and contrasting these to mainland events;
- to better appreciate the different conceptualisations of island life held by ‘islanders’ (natives), part-time islanders (those originally from the island but who are now 2nd home residents or just visitors) and those who ‘come from away’ (settlers). These divergences of opinion are often at the heart of island debates;
- to suggest and consider remedies and solutions of how to come to terms with some of these specific, small island behavioural traits;
- to examine some of the various nature-society interactions on islands, including: the protection of endemic species; the response to invasive species; the designation of marine or terrestrial parks and their management;
- to come to better terms with one’s own, small island experience from the vantage point of a comparative and analytical approach, drawing in experiences and research from a multitude of small island environments world-wide.

Learning Outcomes:

By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:

• undertake simple, island-mainland comparisons;
• master the basic principles of evolutionary processes on islands;
• appreciate the contribution of tourism to island economies, and its social unfolding as host-guest encounters;
• understand the strong influence of personality politics, networks and extended families in island life;
• experience (and survive) a multi-disciplinary course with (mainly) social science but also some natural science components.

Main Text/s and any supplementary readings:

Baldacchino, G. (2000) The Challenge of Hypothermia: A Six-Proposition Manifesto for Small Island Territories, The Round Table, No.353, pp. 65- 79.
Barnes, J.A. (1954) ‘Class and Committees in a Norwegian Island Parish’, Human Relations, Vol.7 , No.1, pp. 39-58.
Black, A. (1996) ‘Negotiating the Tourist Gaze: The Example of Malta’ in J. Boissevain, ed. Coping with Tourists: :European Reactions to Mass Tourism, Providence, USA, Berghahn Books, pp.112-142.
Briguglio, L & J Kaminarides, eds. (1993) Islands and Small States: Issues and Policies, World Development, Vol. 21, No.2, February (Special Issue).
Briguglio, L., et alii., eds. (1996) Sustainable Tourism in Small and Island States, London, Pinter, Volumes 1 & 2.
Clarke, C.G. & Payne, A., eds. (1987) Politics, Security and Development In Small States, London, Allen & Unwin.
Dommen, E.C. & Hein, P.L. (1985) States, Microstates & Islands, London, Croom Helm.
Fineman, Stephen & Yiannis Gabriel (1996) ‘Networks and Empires’, In Experiencing Organisations, London, Sage, pp. 123-134.
King, Russell & John Connell (1999) Small Worlds, Global Lives: Islands and Migration, London, Pinter.
Lockhart, D.G., Drakakis-Smith, D. & Schembri, J.A., eds. (1993) The Development Process in Small Island States, London, Routledge.
McKee, David L. & Tisdell, Clem A. (1990) Developmental Issues in Small Island Economies, New York, Praeger.
Schumacher, E.F. (1973) Small is Beautiful: A Study of Economics as if People Mattered, London, Blond and Briggs.
Young, L. B. (1999) Islands: Portraits of Miniature Worlds, New York, WH Freeman & Co.


Assessment Component/s Assessment Due Resit Availability Weighting
Book Review SEM1 Yes 20%
Online Quiz SEM1 Yes 20%
Fieldwork SEM1 Yes 20%
Assignment SEM1 Yes 40%

LECTURER/S Godfrey Baldacchino

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 description above applies to study-units available during the academic year 2020/1. It may be subject to change in subsequent years.