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   Course Title    Sociology of Multiculturalism
Lecturer    Guntars Olsevskis
Institution    Liepajas Pedagogiska Augstskola
Country    Latvia


The aims of this course are:

  • to provide a comprehensive understanding of modern multicultural society,
  • to critically discuss the main issues of contemporary sociology of culture,
  • to develop skills of a comparative analysis and tolerant assessment of cultural differences.


This course is designed for 3rd year students who have already studied the courses of Social Philosophy, History of Culture, History of Sociology.


Throughout the course, I consider to promote a dialogical approach, including interactive methods, students' project works, essay writing with follow-up individuall or small group presentation. In my opinion, the use of these methods will help to develop students' culture of critical thinking, communication skills and tolerance.


Lecture 1. An introduction to the course.

The sociological research of multicultural society. Multiculturalism as the coexistence of different cultures. The diversity of cultural subjects. The dimensions of sociocultural differentiation - ethnicity and social stratification. The understanding of cultural phenomena, values and norms that shape social conduct, the rules and conventions of everyday social life.

Lecture 2. Contemporary sociological theories of culture.

Sociocultural anthropology. C. Geertz's conception. A functionalist and conflictological point of view on culture. S.Huntington's conception of "the clash of civilizations". The positions of ethnocentrism and cultural relativism. Postmodern sociology of culture: P.Bourdieu, Z.Bauman.

Seminar 3. Variety of identities.

The main features of collective identities. Variety of cultural identities. Ethnic and national identity. Socialization and the variability of identities. Resocialization in a transitional society.

Lecture 4. Nations and nationalism.

The mains conceptions of nation: primordialism and modernism. A distinction between pre-modern ethnies and civic nations. Nationalism as an ideology. The comparative analysis of ethnic and civic nationalism. National revival in contemporary Central and Eastern Europe. The development of nation-states in the modern world.

Lecture 5. Ethnic relations and ethnopolitics.

Ethnic minorities. Ethnic and race prejudices. Forms of discrimination. Ethnic conflicts and ethnoradicalism. Assimilation: voluntary or coercive. Acculturation. The protection of human rights and the cultural autonomy of ethnic minorities. Cultural pluralism and tolerance.

Seminar 6. Social and national integration.

The relationship between universal human rights and the rights of nations to self-determination. Problems of immigration and naturalization of non-citizens. The issue of state language in a multicultural society. The process of national integration and the overcoming of social alienation. The analysis of public opinion.

Lecture 7. Civil society and civic consciosness.

The main preconditions of civil society. The rule of Law. The development of democracy. The role of non-governmental organizations. The peculiarity of civil rights. Civic consciousness and participation. Loyalty to the state and patriotism. The issue of legitimation.

Seminar 8. Political culture and ideological orientations.

The dominant ideologies of contemporary society. The comparative analysis of conservative and radical ideological beliefs. The essential traits of modern liberalism and communitarianism. The mutual relationship between freedom, responsibility and social justice. Political ethics. Dysfunctions of bureaucracy. The problems of moral relativism and corruption.

Lecture 9. Sociocultural transformations.

The interdependence of economic, political and cultural factors in the process of social change. The understanding of multilinear social evolution. The conception of "the risk society". Tradition and modernization in culture. Cultural pluralism as the dialectic of universalism and relativism. The features of postmodernity. The peculiarity of post-Soviet transition.

Seminar 10. Mass culture and subcultures.

The growth of mass culture and consumerism. The issues of mass communication in the context of globalization. Sociolinguistic diversity of communicative environment. Content analysis of mass media. The manipulation of information. Freedom and responsibility of mass media. Variety of subcultures. Culture of poverty. The problems of marginalization and deviance.



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Bauman Z. Intimations of Postmodernity. London: Routledge, 1992.

Beck U. Risk Society. London: Sage, 1992.

Beck U., Giddens A., Lash S. Reflexive Modernization. Stanford University Press, 1994.

Bell D. The Cultural Contradictions of Capitalism. New York: Basic Books,1976.

Bourdieu P. Reproduction in Education, Society and Culture. London: Sage,1977.

Browning G. (ed.) Understanding Contemporary Society. London: Sage, 2000.

Featherstone M. Consumer Culture and Post-Modernism. London: Sage, 1991.

Geertz C. The Interpretation of Culture. New York: Basic Books, 1973.

Gellner E. Nations and Nationalism. Oxford: Blackwell, 1983.

Howard M.C. Contemporary Cultural Anthropology. New York: Harper Collins,1989.

Huntington S. The Clash of Civilizations. New York: Touchstone, 1997.

Inglehart R. Culture Shift in Advanced Industrial Society. Oxford, 1990.

Jameson F. Postmodernism. London: Verso, 1991.

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Mach Z. Symbols, Conflict and Identity. Albany, 1993.

Mortimer E. (ed.) People, Nation and State. London: I.B.Tauris, 1999.

Smith A.D. National Identity. Harmondsworth: Penguin Books, 1991.

Smith A.D. Nationalism and Modernism. London: Routledge, 1998.

Vebers E. (ed.) Civic Consciousness. Riga, 1998.

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