University Homepage
DRPS Homepage
DRPS Search
DRPS Contact
DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Social and Political Science : Sociology

Undergraduate Course: Sociology of the Arts (SCIL10083)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Social and Political Science CollegeCollege of Humanities and Social Science
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 3 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThrough an exploration of theoretical perspectives and empirical studies, this course considers the role of art in the social, and the role of the social in art.
Course description Looking at art sociologically involves questioning conventional understandings of "art" and "the artist". Who has the authority to decide what counts as art, and what social conditions allow for the idea of the "artist" to emerge? The sociology of the arts also entails investigating cultural institutions. How do organisations (such as academies, conservatories, companies, galleries and festivals) become established, and how do they shape artistic innovation? To see the arts from a sociological perspective means examining the relation between the arts and society. How is artistic activity affected or redefined by macro social processes (such as globalisation), and what role can the arts play in micro-level processes that foster social cohesion, identity formation and active citizenship? Through an exploration of theoretical perspectives and empirical studies, this course considers the role of art in the social, and the role of the social in art.

Class meetings will typically involve one hour of lecture and one hour of discussion and group activities. Lectures will provide a broader context for the week's topic, clarify key concepts and theories, and reinforce connections to previous coursework (especially Social Theory and Designing and Doing Social Research). Discussions will allow students to engage critically with selected readings and consider broader implications while activities will challenge them to try out ideas and apply new concepts and theories to concrete cases. A workshop will be held to prepare students for doing short-term fieldwork in a local cultural organisation.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisitesVisiting students should have at least 2 social science courses (such as Sociology, Politics, Social Policy, Social Anthropology, etc) at grade B or above. We will only consider University/College level courses
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2017/18, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  None
Course Start Semester 2
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Lecture Hours 10, Seminar/Tutorial Hours 10, Fieldwork Hours 5, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 171 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) 25% - midterm short essay in which students conduct fieldwork in a local cultural organization and analyse their main findings

70% - long essay chosen from a set of questions relating to central themes in the course and incorporating readings from one or more of the weekly topics

5 % - Tutorial participation (specific guidelines to be determined once enrollment is known, but could involve evaluating student performance of an activity such as presenting one of the suggested readings)
Feedback The short essay will be due in week 6 and students will receive formative feedback. Students will be invited to submit a long essay plan in week 8 which provides them with another opportunity for feedback and advice.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Engage critically with the dominant approaches in the sociological study of culture and the arts
  2. Assess the relevance of various theories for understanding aesthetic experience and the social relations surrounding the creation, distribution, and evaluation of art
  3. Develop their ability to present - in written and verbal form -- coherent, balanced arguments about the role of the arts in public life, the connection between the arts and forms of power, and the social conditions that affect creativity
  4. Assess competing claims and make informed judgments about cultural policy, the restructuring of public funding for the arts, and the emerging social, political and economic developments that are transforming the arts in the 21st century
  5. Use ethnographic research methods to investigate the functions of art in everyday life and creative practices in a cultural organisation
Reading List
Becker, Howard. 2008. Art Worlds. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press.
Bourdieu, Pierre. 1993. The Field of Cultural Production: Essays on Art and Literature. Cambridge, England: Polity Press.
Elias, Norbert. 1993. Mozart: Portrait of a Genius. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.
Heinich, Natalie. 1996. The Glory of Van Gogh: An Anthropology of Admiration. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Menger, Pierre-Michel. 2014. The Economics of Creativity: Art and Achievement under Uncertainty. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills By the end of this course, students will have strengthened their skills in research and enquiry. More specifically, they should be able to:
- analyse macro- and micro-level social processes
- apply sociological knowledge to issues of cultural policy
- question conventional understandings
- evaluate the relevance of empirical evidence, and the soundness of conceptual approaches, for how they contribute to the coherence of arguments
- identify and design ways of investigating patterns of behavior and institutional dynamics
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr Lisa Mccormick
Course secretaryMiss Emma Thomson
Tel: (0131 6)50 3932
Help & Information
Search DPTs and Courses
Degree Programmes
Browse DPTs
Humanities and Social Science
Science and Engineering
Medicine and Veterinary Medicine
Other Information
Combined Course Timetable
Important Information