Credit points


Campus offering

No unit offerings are currently available for this unit



Unit rationale, description and aim

Culture has long been recognised as essential to the social sciences and remains a powerful point of contention in contemporary sociological debates concerning the self, the nature of group difference and the relationship between structure and agency. But what exactly is culture? This unit introduces sociological approaches to studying culture, paying particular attention to how culture is shaped by power formations. Examining processes of cultural innovation and cultural stability in various social settings, it explores how culture can reproduce, organise and challenge social values and structures. Students will explore how global processes, such as colonialism, capitalism and globalisation, variously transform culture and conceptions of cultural difference. They will also explore the ways in which groups, communities and peoples respond to these processes, ranging from projects of cultural resistance to struggles for cultural rights. The unit charts the development of cultural sociology across the twentieth century, investigating the multiple meanings of 'culture' and what they bring to the analysis of society, power formations and social change. The aim of this unit is to acquaint students with sociological understandings of culture and the theoretical and conceptual tools with which to make sense of culture and the varied roles it plays in social life.

Learning outcomes

To successfully complete this unit you will be able to demonstrate you have achieved the learning outcomes (LO) detailed in the below table.

Each outcome is informed by a number of graduate capabilities (GC) to ensure your work in this, and every unit, is part of a larger goal of graduating from ACU with the attributes of insight, empathy, imagination and impact.

Explore the graduate capabilities.

On successful completion of this unit, students should be able to:

LO1 - Identify different sociological approaches and perspectives relevant to the study of culture and cultural formations in Australia and globally (GA1, GA5, GA7) 

LO2 - Communicate clearly and comprehensively through written and oral forms (GA9) 

LO3 - Demonstrate skills in sociological analysis and critical thinking through the collection and analysis of empirical data through a range of methods (GA4, GA8) 

LO4 - Apply relevant sociological theories, concepts and evidence to the analysis of social phenomena associated with culture, particularly cultural struggles (GA1, GA4, GA8) 

LO5 - Construct specific sociological arguments using relevant theories, concepts and evidence relevant to cultural sociology (GA4, GA8, GA9) 

Graduate attributes

GA1 - demonstrate respect for the dignity of each individual and for human diversity 

GA4 - think critically and reflectively 

GA5 - demonstrate values, knowledge, skills and attitudes appropriate to the discipline and/or profession 

GA7 - work both autonomously and collaboratively 

GA8 - locate, organise, analyse, synthesise and evaluate information 

GA9 - demonstrate effective communication in oral and written English language and visual media 


Topics will include: 

  • Sociology of culture 
  • Cultural sociology  
  • Cultural stability and innovation 
  • Constructivism and essentialism 
  • Cultural hybridity and hybridisation 
  • Colonialism and culture  
  • Postcolonialism and postcolonial theories of identity 
  • Power and knowledge in cultural representation 
  • Globalisation and cultural imperialism  
  • Capitalism and cultural homogenisation 
  • Decolonisation and anti-colonial nationalisms 
  • Identity politics, culture and resistance 
  • Cultural survival of Indigenous peoples 
  • Cultural rights and diversity 

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

This unit employs two formal ways of learning and teaching. It additionally makes use of online materials and activities to facilitate flexible and accessible supplementary learning. Lectures are structured to promote case-based learning, a format that involves collaborative deep learning. Students will explore real-world challenges and problems, a process that requires them to demonstrate their investigative, problem-solving and decision-making skills. Case-based learning requires learning specific theories and concepts that will complement the conceptual tools and theoretical knowledge critical to analysing divergent approaches to the sociological study of culture. Tutorials for this unit provide students opportunities for active learning. Students will engage in activities including reading, writing, interrogating ideas, exploring case studies, doing role plays, debating, and giving presentations. These activities, as well as promoting the acquisition and assimilation of new concepts and information from lecture content, are designed to build skills appropriate to second-year study in Sociology. 


This is a 10-credit point unit and has been designed to ensure that the time needed to complete the required volume of learning to the requisite standard is approximately 150 hours in total across the semester. To achieve a passing standard in this unit, students will find it helpful to engage in the full range of learning activities and assessments utilised in this unit. The learning and teaching and assessment strategies include a range of approaches to support your learning such as reading, reflection, discussion, webinars, podcasts, video etc. 

Assessment strategy and rationale

The assessment tasks for this unit have been designed to contribute to high quality student learning by both helping students learn (assessment for learning), and by measuring explicit evidence of their learning (assessment of learning). Assessments have been developed to meet the unit learning outcomes and develop graduate attributes consistent with University assessment requirements. These have been designed so that they use a variety of tasks to measure the different learning outcomes at a level suitable for second year study in Sociology.  

The assessments in this unit encourage students to develop an understanding of a sociological approach to culture and contribute to group learning by leading a tutorial discussion (analytical task), demonstrate a sociological understanding of concepts, theories and case studies covered in the unit (exam/quiz task) and critically consider a sociological approach to culture in an in-depth manner incorporating empirical data (written task). The schedule provides scaffolded learning with opportunities for students to monitor their own progress, practice their skills and receive feedback. This assists students to develop metacognitive awareness, thereby promoting ongoing learning. 

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Written Task 

Students are required to consider an aspect of sociological approaches to culture in depth via a written task such as an essay incorporating empirical data.  


LO1, LO2, LO3 

GA1, GA4, GA5, GA7, GA8, GA9 

Analytical Task 

Students are required to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of a sociological perspective as it pertains to culture by leading student discussion. 


LO1, LO2, LO4 

GA1, GA4, GA5, GA7, GA8, GA9 

Exam/Quiz Task 

Students’ knowledge of the different topics covered in the unit will be assessed via an online exam or series of quizzes. 


LO2, LO4, LO5 

GA1, GA4, GA8, GA9 

Representative texts and references

Dutta, M. (2020) Communication, culture and social change: Meaning, co-option and resistance. Cham: Springer. 

Innes, A. (2019) Colonial citizenship and everyday transnationalism. Cham: Palgrave. 

Henderson, E.A. (2019) The revolution will not be theorised: Cultural revolution and the Black Power era. New York: SUNY Press. 

Gensini, V. & Triandafyllidou, A. (2019) Eds. Global identities: Postcolonial and cross-cultural narratives. Mousse Publishing. 

Grindstaff, L., Lo, M.C.M & Hall, J.R. (2019) Routledge handbook of cultural sociology, 2nd ed. London: Routledge. 

Pieterse, J.N. (2020) Globalisation and culture: Global melange. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield. 

Riding, J. & Jones, M. (2017) Eds. Reanimating regions: Culture, politics, and performance. Abingdon: Routledge. 

Schultz, M. (2020) Performing Indigenous culture on stage and on screen: A harmony of frenzy. Cham: Palgrave. 

Sharma, A. (2020) Race and visual culture in global times. London: Bloomsbury Academic. 

Spillman, L. (2020) What is cultural sociology? London: Wiley. 

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