Sociology 301

SOCY 301

Catalog Entry

SOCY 301. Culture Change and Globalization
Three hours lecture (3).

Prerequisite: SOCY 110, or SOCY 121, or permission of instructor.

Examination of social science theories on the processes of culture change, including globalization and the changes it brings to societies around the world. 


Detailed Description of Content of Course

I. Review of social science concepts as a framework for studying sociocultural change.

            A. Ethnocentrism and stereotyping

            B. "Progress," "development," and "backward" societies

            C. Cultural diversity and cultural relativism

            D. Culture systems perspective

            E. Goals of scientific explanation 

II. Culture change: theory and assessment

            A. Processes of sociocultural change

                        1. Survey of different theories: evolution, innovation, diffusion, acculturation, dependency models, globalization models

                        2. Differences in the sources/types/rates of change on cultural systems

            B. Assessing cultural survival -- discussion of three key challenges to cultural autonomy:

                        1. Maintenance or loss of economic self-sufficiency

                        2. Maintenance or loss of political self-rule or "self-determination

                        3. Maintenance or loss of social cohesion and sense of identity. 

III. Culture change: Lessons from the past

            A. Importance of using diachronic studies from the past to understand processes of culture change and, in turn, applying those lessons toward contemporary cultural survival issues.

            B. Ethnohistorical case studies demonstrating the impact of change on indigenous cultural systems.  

IV. Culture change: Present and future issues

            A. Examining cultural survival problems

                        1. Extension of government control over tribal people and loss of political self-determination

                        2. Impact on self-sufficiency due to changes in indigenous land tenure and loss of lands/water/resources

                        3. Effects of ethnocide on tribal peoples

                        4. Impact of change on indigenous social organization and religious beliefs

                        5. Impact of economic development on tribal peoples

                        6. Impact of multinational warfare on tribal peoples

            B. Indigenous societies' own actions toward maintaining/regaining their cultural survival 

                        1. Ethnographic case studies 

            C. Issues of Globalization

                        1. Migration

                        2. Transnationalism

                        3. Diaspora

                        4. Refugees

V. The role of social science researchers in culture change/globalization

            A. Dilemma: balancing the traditional non-interventionist role of social scientists and today's concern for cultural survival

            B. Dilemma: applying universal human rights standards in a world of cultural diversity

            C. Applied social sciences and advocacy. 


Detailed Description of Conduct of Course

A combination of lecture and informal discussion is used in this course. Both focus upon assigned readings, audio-visual presentations, and applicable materials drawn from media discussions of current events. 


Goals and Objectives of the Course

Students will be able to:

1. survey the social science literature and discuss/explain theoretical approaches to the study of sociocultural change

2. demonstrate knowledge of documented ethnohistorical cases of culture change in indigenous societies around the world

3. demonstrate knowledge of, and concern for, cultural survival issues facing indigenous peoples in the present and future

4. apply social science theory and lessons on past change toward better understanding and prediction of current challenges from globalization.  


Assessment Measures

Students may be graded on the basis of in-class or take-home essay examinations, oral presentations, term papers or projects, journals, class attendance and participation. 


Other Course Information

Students may be asked to keep abreast of current world events and to conduct library research in addition to reading assigned text materials. Informal, in-class writing may be used to stimulate discussion. 


Review and Approval

February, 2009, Dr. Paula Brush, Chair, Department of Sociology