Syllabus 2008

Here is the Syllabus for Sociological Perspectives on Contemporary American Culture available for downloading.

The following is an Interactive Version of the syllabus.  Click on the links for abstracts and/or supplementary information

American Studies Center
University of Warsaw


Sociological Perspectives on Contemporary American Culture

Instructor:             Dr. Joshua Kjerulf Dubrow
Date and Time:     Every Other Sunday, 8:30 a.m. – 10:45 a.m.
Place:                      American Studies Center/Ośrodek Studiów Amerykańskich
Al. Niepodległości 22, Room 319
Seminar Website:
Seminar Email:
Office Hours:         By appointment
Instructor’s Email:

Seminar Description:

This seminar focuses on cultural aspects of contemporary American society viewed from a sociological perspective.   Topics that reflect instructor interests include: Sociological Conceptions of Culture; Political Culture after September 11, 2001; Issues in Inequality –  Race and Ethnicity, Gender and Sexuality, Social Class and the American Elite, and Intersectionality; Sport and Society; and Religion and Community. M.A. theses concerning these and related topics are welcome, as are interdisciplinary approaches in theory and methods.  While sociological inquires may take many forms, I encourage M.A. students to ask interesting and important questions, situated in social theory and that use appropriate methods. 

Seminar Objectives:

The seminar objectives are:
(a)  Introduce students to sociological perspectives on contemporary American culture;
(b)  Provide students with an intellectually stimulating environment in which they can freely discuss and debate the key ideas in sociology of American culture;
(c)  Enable students to develop a high-quality MA thesis, starting with an MA prospectus and a preliminary first chapter.

Seminar Structure:

The seminar is structured as follows.  In the first hour, with the instructor as the moderator, students will present and discuss the readings assigned for that day.  In the second hour, students will present their progress on their MA thesis.  In this second hour, students are encouraged to discuss with the class their ideas and problems relating to the development of their MA prospectus and first chapter.


Grades are based on 20% class participation, 15% final presentation of the MA thesis prospectus, 65% on MA thesis prospectus and first chapter.

Class participation.  Students are expected to discuss assigned readings on the due date and to participate in in-class projects.  Each class, some students will be designated as discussion leaders, whose job is to provide a short summary of required readings and at least one discussion question stemming from these readings.  These are not written assignments (i.e., they do not have to be submitted in written form) but the oral presentation must reflect the discussion leaders’ scrupulous preparation based on the readings.  Students are also required to be actively engaged in developing and revising their MA prospectus and first chapter.  Students are required to be able to deliver short presentations on their progress and problems, as appropriate.

Final Presentation.  Students will be allotted 20 minutes to formally present their completed MA prospectus to the class, including the fielding of questions.  For each presentation, along with the instructor, two students will be assigned to critique the written MA prospectus and first chapter.

MA Thesis Prospectus and First Chapter.  Students are to develop an MA thesis prospectus and a workable first chapter.  Details will be explained in class.

Seminar Outline and Readings:

(1)  24.2.08 Development of MA Thesis Topics —

(2)  2.3.08 Sociological Conceptions of Culture 

DiMaggio, Paul.  1987.  “Classification in Art.”  American Sociological Review 52 (4): 440-455.

DiMaggio, Paul and Toqir Mukhtar.  2004.  “Arts Participation as Cultural Capital in the United States, 1982–2002: Signs of Decline?” Poetics 32(2): 169-194.

Bourdieu, Pierre.  2001 [1987].  “Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgment of Taste,” pp. 499-525 in Social Stratification: Class, Race, and Gender in Sociological Perspective, edited by David B. Grusky.  CO: Westview Press.

Eliasoph, Nina and Paul Lichterman. 2003. “Culture in Interaction.” American Journal of Sociology 108: 735-94

(3)  16.3.08 Political Culture after September 11, 2001 

Collins, Randall.  2004.  “Rituals of Solidarity and Security in the Wake of Terrorist Attack.”  Sociological Theory 22 (1): 53-87.

Althaus, Scott L. and Devon M. Largio.  2004.  “When Osama Became Saddam: Origins and Consequences of the Change in America’s Public Enemy #1.”  PS: Political Science and Politics 37(4): 795-799.

Hillygus, D. Sunshine and Todd G. Shields.  2005.  “Moral Issues and Voter Decision Making in the 2004 Presidential Election.”  PS: Political Science and Politics 38(2):  201-209.

Selected material from The New York Times, CNN, and other American media outlets. 

(4) 30.3.08 Gender & Sexuality and Sport & Society 

Miller, Frank.  1992.  Sin City.  Dark Horse Publishers. [selected chapters]

Kimmel, Michael S. and Rebecca F. Plante.  2007.  “Sexualities.” Contexts 6(2): 63 – 65.

Seidman, Steven.  1989. “Constructing Sex as a Domain of Pleasure and Self-expression: Sexual Ideology in the Sixties. “ Theory, Culture and Society 6 (2): 293-315.

Gmelch, George and Patricia M. San Antonio.  1998.  “Groupies and American Baseball.”  Journal of Sport and Social Issues 22:1 32-45.

Messner, Michael A., Michele Dunbar and Darnell Hunt.  2000.  “The Televised Sports Manhood Formula.”  Journal of Sport and Social Issues 24(4): 380 – 394.

(5)  14.4.08 Race & Ethnicity and Intersectionality 

Gans, Herbert J.  2005.  “Race as Class.”  Contexts 4(4): 17 – 21.

Arthur, Mikaila Mariel Lemonik.  2005.  “Race in America.” Contexts 4(4): 48-49.

Feagin, Joe R.  1991.  “The Continuing Significance of Race: Antiblack Discrimination in Public Places.”  American Sociological Review 56 (1): 101-116.

Shively, JoEllen.  1992. “Cowboys and Indians: Perceptions of Western Films among American Indians and Anglos,” American Sociological Review 57 (1992): 725-34. [info about The Searchers]

Collins, Patricia Hill.  2005.  Black Sexual Politics: African Americans, Gender and the New Racism.  Routledge: New York.

McCall, Leslie.  2005.  “The Complexity of Intersectionality.”  Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society 30 (3): 1771 – 1800.

(6)  27.4.08 Social Class & the American Elite and Religion & Community

Class Matters.” 2005.  The New York Times. [selected articles]

Schwalbe et al. 2000.  “Generic Processes in the Reproduction of Inequality: An Interactionist Analysis.”  Social Forces, 79 (2): 419-452 [see also statement on interactionist view of power]

Yamokoski, Alexis and Joshua Kjerulf Dubrow.  “How Do Elites Define Influence?  Personality and Respect as Sources of Social Power.”  Forthcoming, Sociological Focus.

Form, William and Joshua Dubrow.  2005.  “Downtown Metropolitan Churches: Ecological Situation and Response.” Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 44 (3): 271-290.

Jesus Camp (2006).  [movie]

(7)  18.5.08 Presentations 

(8)  31.5.08 Presentations 

(9)  15.6.08 Presentations 

One response to “Syllabus 2008

  1. Pingback: Welcome to the Sociological Perspectives on American Culture Seminar Website « Sociological Perspectives on American Culture

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