SOLUTION: University College London Sociology of Cultural and Media Discussion

Sociology of Media and Culture
Module summary
The module equips students with a high-level interdisciplinary and critical understanding of media
and culture. By exploring applied examples students will apply conceptual and empirical insights
from recent sociology to the study of contemporary issues within the media and culture.
The module provides an advanced understanding of contemporary approaches to the study of
media and culture. It critically explores flows and networks whilst drawing on pertinent examples
to illustrate the ways in which culture and the media can be read and re-signified.
Learning outcomes
On successful completion of this module, students should be able to:
• demonstrate an understanding of, and critical engagement with, the key conceptual,
theoretical, empirical and critical debates within the sociological study of culture and the
• apply conceptual understanding to the analysis of contemporary debates and issues,
• demonstrate a mastery of the key texts from the field of the social science concerned with
the study of media and culture,
• display advanced abilities for critical thinking and in-depth analysis of existing scholarship
on media and culture,
• demonstrate the ability to produce and present a piece of individual analysis of media and
culture that employs appropriate conceptual frameworks and critical inquiry.
Key texts for the units
Week 1 – Media in the age of new media
Key Reading
Lehman-Wilzig, C. (2004). The natural life cycle of new media evolution: Inter-media struggle for
survival in the internet age. New Media & Society, 6(6), 707–730.
Essential reading
van Dijck, J. 2009. Users like you? Theorizing agency in user-generated content. Media, Culture &
Society, 31(1), 41–58.
Meyers, E. (2012). “Blogs give regular people the chance to talk back”: Rethinking “professional”
media hierarchies in new media. New Media & Society, 14(6), 1022–1038.
Santana, H. (2016). Tapping Into a New Stream of (Personal) Data: Assessing Journalists’ Different
Use of Social Media. Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly, 93(2), 383–408.
Week 2 – Global Media: Flows and Contra Flows
Key Reading
Fuchs C. 2010. New imperialism: Information and media imperialism? Global Media and
Communication 6(1): 33–60
Essential reading
Schiller, H. 1991. Not Yet the Post-Imperialist Era. Critical Studies in Mass Communication, 8 (1),
Thussu, D., Burgh, H., & Shi, A. 2018. China’s media go global. Routledge. Chapters 1, 2, 3 & 4)
Thussu, D.K. 2006. Media on the Move: Global Flow and Contra-Flow. London: Routledge
(Chapters 1, 3 and 12) E-book:
Week 3 – Religion and Globalisation
Key Reading
Herrington, Luke M. 2013. Globalization and Religion in Historical Perspective: A Paradoxical
Relationship. Religions 2013, 4(1), 145-165 (
Casanova, J. (2001). Religion, the new millennium, and globalization. (2000 Presidential
Address). Sociology of Religion, 62(4), 415–441.
Einstein, M. (2008). Brands of faith: marketing religion in a commercial age. London: Routledge.
(Chapters 1,2 & 9) E-book:
Obadia, L. (2012). Globalisation and new geographies of religion: new regimes in the movement,
circulation, and territoriality of cults and beliefs. International Social Science Journal, 63(209-210),
Week 4 – Digital media and social movements: transformation and continuities
Key reading
Bennett, W. G. and Segerberg, A. (2012) ‘The Logic of Connective Action: digital media and the
personalisation of contentious politics’, Information, Communication and Society, 15, 5: 739-68.
Additional reading
Cammaerts, B., Mattoni, A., and McCurdy, P., (2013) (eds.) Mediation and Protest Movements
(Bristol,: Intellect) (Chapter 1)
Gerbaudo, P. (2012), Tweets and the Streets: Social Media and Contemporary Activism (London:
Pluto). (Chapter 1)
Rovisco, M. (2017) ‘The indignados social movement and the image of the occupied square: the
making of a global icon’, Visual Communication 16(3): 337–359
Week 5 – Cosmopolitan Mobilities and the ‘Creative City’
Key Reading
Peck, J. (2005) Struggling with the creative class. International Journal of Urban and Regional
Research, Volume 29.4: 740–770.
Essential readings:
Boltanski, L. and Chiapello, E. (2018) The new spirit of capitalism. New York: Verso, Chapter 1.
Borén, T. and Young, C. (2013) ‘Getting creative with the “creative city”? Towards new
perspectives on creativity in urban policy’, International Journal of Urban and Regional Research,
37 (5): 1799-1815.
Hannigan, J. (2007) ‘From fantasy city to creative city’. In G. Richards and J. Wilson (eds.), Tourism,
Creativity and Development. London: Routledge, pp.48-56.
Week 6 – Global Flanerie: From Early Modern to Postmodern Media in Tourism
Key Reading
Urry, J. and Larsen, J. (2011) The Tourist Gaze 3.0. London: Sage, pp. 1-30.
Essential readings:
Germann Molz, J (2012) Travel Connections. London: Routledge, Chapter 1, pp. 1-16.
Tester, K. (1994) ‘Introduction’. In K. Tester (ed.) The Flaneur, London: Routledge, pp. 1-21.
Tzanelli, R. (2007) The Cinematic Tourist: Explorations in Globalisation, Culture and Resistance,
London and New York: Routledge, Chapter 1, pp. 1-26.
Week 7 – Imaginaries of Climate Change
Key Reading
Tzanelli, R. (2018) Mega-Events as Economies of the Imagination: Creating Atmospheres for Rio
2016 and Tokyo 2020. London and New York: Routledge. Chapter 3: ‘Tomorrow never comes: Rio’s
museum of our futures’ (pp. 53-87).
A shortcut to the chapter is provided in: Tzanelli, R. (2018) ‘The “Mangle” of Human Practice:
Museu do Amanhã’s Artistic Staging as a Socio-scientific Narrative on Climate Change’, Transfers,
18 (2): 138-141. (Please try to read the whole chapter and use this museum review only as a guide
to the most essential points in it.)
Essential readings:
Jasanoff, S. (2010) ‘A new climate for society’, Theory, Culture & Society 27 (2-3): 233-253.
Steger, MB and James, P (2013) ‘Levels of Subjective Globalization: Ideologies, Imaginaries,
Ontologies’, Perspectives on Global Development and Technology, 12: 17–40.
Valaskivi, K. and Sumiala, J. (2014) ‘Circulating social imaginaries: theoretical and methodological
reflection’, European Journal of Cultural Studies, 17(3), pp.229-243.
Week 8 – Class, Status and Distinction: The uses of culture
Key Reading
Beverley Skeggs and Helen Wood (2012) Reacting to Reality Television: Performance, Audience and
Value, London Routledge – Chapter 2 Performance and the Value of Personhood, 48-79.
Essential Reading
Bourdieu, P (1986) The Forms of Capital in I Szeman and T Kaposy (eds) Cultural Theory: An
anthology, Oxford: Wiley.
Ruth Holliday and Tracey Potts (2012) Kitsch! Cultural Politics and Taste, Manchester: MUP –
chapter 2 Kitsch Taste 45-81.
Skeggs, B. (1997) Chapter 8 Becoming Respectable Formations of Class and Gender: Becoming
Respectable. London: Sage.
Week 9 – Gender and the media – from ‘woman as spectacle’ to popular feminism
Key reading
Banet-Weiser, S. (2018) Empowered – Popular Feminism and Popular Misogyny (Duke University
Press) (Introduction)
Additional Reading
Butler, J. 2013. ‘For white girls only? Postfeminism and the politics of inclusion’ Feminist
Formations 25 (1) pp. 35-58
Gill R. (2007) ‘Postfeminist media culture: Elements of a sensibility’ European Journal of Cultural
Studies 10 (2) 147–166.
Mulvey, L. (1975) ‘Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema Screen 16 (3): 6 –18.
Week 10 – Race on film: Resisting the mainstream
Key reading
Massood, P. (2003) Black City Cinema (Temple University Press) (chapter 5)
Additional Reading
Diawara, M. (2012) Black American Cinema (London: Routledge) (chapter 1)
Hooks, b. (2014) Black Looks: Race and Representation. (London: Routledge) (chapter 1)
Mennel, B. (2008) Cities and Cinema (Florence, KY, USA: Routledge) (Chapter 7)
Reading lists
The specific reading lists for each unit listed above will be made available on the VLE one week in
advance of the week of each unit. You are encouraged to read widely and engage with the peerreviewed academic journal articles. Reading lists are not exhaustive: just because a paper is not
mentioned on the reading list does not mean
The module is assessed by a 1000-word Literature Review and a 4000-word Essay. The word count
for the review and the essay does not include references.
Literature Review – 1000 words –
it is largely formative and structured as an opportunity for feedback on your reading prior to final
submission of your essay. The task is to identify and critically review two key sources that are
relevant to your chosen essay topic.
When you write your essay, you will need to review more literature than you are being asked to
do here.
For this assessment you are being asked to review two pieces of literature relevant to your essay
topic. For each of the pieces of literature you have only 400 words, so you should briefly:

Introduce the literature you are reviewing;

summarise the important points in the literature you have chosen;

evaluate their strengths and weaknesses by comparing and contrasting them; try to
identify what each piece of literature covers well, how it does it and what it misses out;

identify significant flaws or gaps in the literature to show where future research might
be needed;

draw all the points together in a brief conclusion.
The key aims should be to:

synthesise the information in that literature into a summary;

critically analyse the information gathered by identifying gaps in current knowledge; by
showing limitations of theories and points of view; and by suggesting areas for further
research and reviewing areas of controversy.
(See Appendix 1 for further details)
Essay – 4000 words
The task of the essay is to explore a media or cultural phenomenon of your choice and apply
theoretical approaches covered on the module to explore and articulate a critical position on it.
Essay questions will be given out in Week 4, but you can start thinking about the media/cultural
phenomenon you plan to analyse as soon as the module begins. You should see one of the module
tutors during their office hour to discuss your proposed essay.
In Appendix 2, you will find an essay guide with information on how to structure your assignment.
You do not have to follow this precisely but it is intended to assist those who are unfamiliar with
writing extended essays. The guide provides information on what we expect you to include in your
essay, as well as indicative word counts for each section.
In Appendix 3 you will also find guidance on the assessment criteria we will use.
Coursework Submission
All coursework should be submitted electronically through turnitin on the VLE by the 12 pm (noon)
on the day of the deadline. Each assignment will have its own electronic submission inbox in
which you can upload your work. Each inbox will become available around 2 weeks before a
submission date and at the same time you will be sent an email reminder with instructions for
submission. It is your responsibility to make sure you are aware of the deadline for each piece of
work to make sure that you have allowed enough time to submit your work. The time on the
turnitin receipt for coursework is definitive in terms of monitoring late submissions.
Late Submission Penalties
5 marks are deducted for a submission that is made after the deadline (12 pm noon) on day 1 and
any time until 12 pm on day 2. Thereafter students lose a further 5 marks for each subsequent
period of 24 hours.
In order to avoid late penalties please ensure it is submitted by the deadline (See below for information
regarding extensions and late submission penalties).
Coursework Extension Requests
The School may grant extensions in cases were a student has experienced serious difficulty which
has prevented the completion of work within the normal time period. This may be due to illness,
bereavement or family problems. Students wishing to request an extension should email: before the deadline for guidance on applying.
Mitigating Circumstances
Mitigating circumstances are significantly disruptive or unexpected events which are beyond your
control but which might affect your academic performance or cause you to miss an exam. If this
applies, you should inform the school as soon as possible. Students on this programme should
email in the first instance.
Feedback on assessment Return Date to students
It is stated in the Code of Practice on Assessment that feedback will normally be returned within
15 working days. We will endeavour to avoid delays but will inform you if any should arise.
More information on how to present your essay
Your essay must be well-presented, clearly laid out, with a comprehensive bibliography and proper
referencing and, if relevant, use of foot or endnotes. All written work should conform to the
conventions expected at MA level.
The word count does not include the bibliography. Students whose assessed work exceeds the
word limits given will be penalised (there is a 10% margin on the essays).
Referencing is the acknowledgment of the sources you used when producing your piece of work.
Referencing correctly is important to demonstrate how widely you have researched your subject,
to show the basis of your arguments and conclusions, and to avoid plagiarism. You need to give
the person reading your assignment enough information to find the sources you have consulted.
This is done by including citations in your work and providing a list of references at the end of your
Appendix 1: How to Write Your Literature Review
As this form of assessment will be new to many of you, this guide is intended to provide some
additional hints and tips on how to proceed with your ‘Literature Reviews’
The basics
You are required to produce a ‘Literature Review’ of two sources. The total word count is 1,000
words. You should consult at least two other sources for each review. This will allow you to
analyse the main text.
Lessons from previous students…

Although there is no specific question to answer, ‘Literature Reviews’ are best approached as
‘short essays’ rather than as ‘book reviews’
That is, the objective is to develop a critical analysis of a range of relevant literature – thus
allowing for much more critical and evaluative content to develop – rather than simply describing
the content of a particular source (or sources)
Number of Sources
For each source you are reviewing, feel free to consult other sources where the ideas in the
additional sources enhance, question or add complexity to the ideas in the two main literature.
However, it is unlikely you will be able to provide a detailed analysis if you include too many
sources, given that the length of this assessment is 1000 words. If you have included information
from additional sources, you should include the sources in the bibliography. By critically reviewing
the two main literature and any important and relevant sources, it is possible to develop a far
greater appreciation of competing arguments and thus far more analytical depth. That said, marks
are awarded for quality and not mere quantity, so you should use your own academic judgement
in writing your Literature Reviews. Remember, as with all assessments, it is important to go
beyond simply describing material and necessary to evaluate and assess critically the debates in
the literature.
Think about it this way…
As well as offering you the opportunity to improve your overall grade across the semester by
receiving ‘on-going’ feedback, the purpose of this form of assessment is to develop a key
transferable skill often required in graduate positions, namely the ability to précis a large quantity
of material in a relatively short document. Albeit in a less formal tone, one student last year put it
like this:

“Imagine that your employer is giving an important speech and is very pressed for time.
Knowing that you will have developed research skills at university, she has asked you to
prepare her text. Your brief is to cover as much material as you can, as accurately and as
critically as possible (because the speech is to other professionals in the field), but you only
have 1000 words in which to do it. You must select the key arguments and debates that will
provide the basis for your employer’s important speech.”
Appendix 2: Essay Guide: How to Write your Essay
The following essay guide is designed to help you to structure your essay. You do not have to stick
to this precisely but it is intended to assist those who are not familiar with writing extended
essays. We have provided indicative word counts for each section.

Introduction – 200-400 words
Identify the issues you will cover in the essay and how they can be illustrated through the specific
media or cultural phenomena you have chosen. Briefly explain why this phenomenon is a good
illustration of the themes you have chosen to discuss.

Describe your chosen phenomenon – 400-600 words
Because your essay markers may be unfamiliar with the media or cultural phenomenon you
choose to analyse, you need to give us a description of it. This might include, in the case of TV
programme: the date it was launched and channel/ broadcaster, what it focuses on, who presents
it, how much is it discussed in other media, what kind of people participate in it, how popular or
widespread the phenomenon is etc. and what has been said about it in the media.

Analyzing your cultural or media phenomenon – 2000-3000 words
The bulk of the essay will be a critical analysis of your chosen phenomenon in relation to key
concepts, theoretical perspectives and debates you have learned on the module.
Themes you may cover in your analysis could include: what are the underlying values that are
enacted in the particular media or cultural phenomenon you have chosen to explore? Who is the
phenomenon aimed at or who participates in it? Do consumers of this cultural phenomenon read
it in the way its creators intended or do they resist intended meanings? What are the pleasures
associated with participation/ viewing? How do these questions link to key approaches covered in
the module?
Whenever you make these points use examples – evidence – from the media or cultural
phenomenon to demonstrate what led you to draw these conclusions. You may use particular
scenes or instances to support your theories or observations and: i.e. what events took place,
between who, what visual or verbal signs were used, what meanings might these carry?

Conclusion – 200-400 words
What does the previous discussion and analysis tell us both about your particular media or cultural
phenomenon you have analysed? Summarize the key points of the discussion in your conclusion.
Appendix 3: Assessment Criteria
Indicators for marking module assignments
Module assignments are marked in relation to four key indicators. Evidence of skills and
competencies in these key areas may be given different emphasis by examiners depending on the
specific demands of a particular module assignment. Students are advised to seek guidance from
the module manager on the expectations for specific assignments.
In marking assignments against the indicators, examiners may also consider evidence of ambition
and diligence in meeting the requirements of a particular assignment task …
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