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Culture and Society: A Seminar on Critical Social Theory

Semester and Year SU 2014
Course Number ELEC-GG2716
Section 001
Instructor Ali Mirsepassi
Days Tue,Thu
Time 5:30 PM - 8:30 PM
Units 4.0
Level G
Foundation Requirement


Session II: July 7 - August 15. Open to advanced undergraduates with permission of the instructor (am128@nyu.edu).


This interdisciplinary seminar will examine a critical debate on culture and society. We will explore theories emphasizing structural or “material” determinism, as well as intellectual currents privileging “cultural” explanations. Excessive emphasis on the cultural unhelpfully blurs the economic and other aspects of social life, while reductive fixation on economic moorings suggests subordination of social life to the structural imperatives of the market. The course proposes a nuanced understanding of human behaviors, social interactions and their forms of subjectivity. The central question will be: how are hegemonic meanings produced and made to become a “normal” part of our political, intellectual, and moral life? And how do such meaning-making processes shape the organization of spaces, policies and population within dominant discourses of modernity and development, as well as the emergence of forms of resistance to these economic imaginaries and practices. We will analyze the ‘cultural political economy’ problem, or culture and society, within four possible analytical frameworks: social science methodology; everyday life; culture and human rights; and state theory. Readings will include selections from the works of Max Weber, Antonio Gramsci, Michel Foucault, Michel de Certeau, Amartya Sen, James Scott, Emile Durkheim and Karl Marx.

Course Type

Graduate Electives (ELEC-GG)

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