Writing in Sociology: Understanding Urban Subcultures (SOC 190)

Course Overview

This course will focus on writing about urban subcultures.  According to the Oxford English Dictionary, a subculture can be defined as “a cultural group within a larger culture, often having beliefs or interests at variance with those of the larger culture.”  Think for a moment about your experience as a New Yorker.  How many subcultures can you identify?  What characteristics cause you to think of these groups as subcultures?  How are these subcultures unique to cities?

To better understand the genesis and characteristics of urban subcultures, we will explore topics such as the presentation of self, the development of individual identity, group cohesion and group dynamics, and the relationship between subcultures and systems of power (based on class, race, gender, and sexuality).  New York subcultures to be studied include Graffiti Artists, Hipsters, Buskers, Doomsday Preppers, Skateboarders, and Surfers.  In this course, students will write a series of reports designed to explore elements of urban subcultures through scholarship and field research.  These reports will include:  an issues reaction paper, a field diary and questionnaire, an annotated bibliography, and an ethnographic report.  This course fulfills the College Writing 2 requirement and builds on the work of English 110 (College Writing 1) to teach the conventions of writing in the discipline of Sociology.

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