The Sociology of Popular Culture

Humanities & Social Sciences
Course Code
SOCI 2255
Semester Length
Max Class Size
Method(s) Of Instruction
Typically Offered
To be determined


Course Description
This course uses various sociological perspectives to analyze the role of popular culture in society. The course examines the development and social significance of various forms of popular culture in the context of recent theories and debates about the relationship of culture to society. Representations of race, class, gender, and sexuality in popular culture will be analyzed. The course will also examine the role of popular culture in the maintenance of social inequality as well as its utility as a medium for challenging inequality.
Course Content
  1. Defining culture and popular culture
  2. Why should we study popular culture?
  3. Marxism and popular culture
  4. Post-structuralism, discourse, and popular culture
  5. Postmodernism and popular culture
  6. Feminist approaches to popular culture
  7. Representations of gender and sexuality in popular culture
  8. Representations of race in popular culture
  9. Representations of class in popular culture
  10. Production and consumption of popular culture
  11. Popular culture and consumerism
  12. Neoliberalism, globalization, and popular culture
Learning Activities

The course will employ a variety of instructional methods to accomplish its objectives, including some of the following:

  • Lecture
  • Small group exercises
  • Class discussion
  • Computer lab work
  • Audio-visual materials
  • Guest speakers
Means of Assessment

Evaluation will be based on course objectives and will be carried out in accordance with Douglas College policy. The instructor will provide a written course outline with specific criteria during the first week of classes.

An example of a possible evaluation scheme would be:

One mid-term exam  30%
One annotated bibliography       15%
One research project  25%
One final exam  30%
Total 100%

Students may conduct research with human participants as part of their coursework in this class. Instructors for the course are responsible for ensuring that student research projects comply with College policies on ethical conduct for research involving humans

Learning Outcomes

At the conclusion of the course the successful student will be able to:

  1. Define popular culture.
  2. Explain the difference between ‘high’ culture and ‘popular’ culture.
  3. Explain the social organization of popular culture.
  4. Summarize major sociological theories of popular culture.
  5. Compare various perspectives on issues of debate in the sociology of popular culture.
  6. Critically analyze conventional ideas about popular culture.
  7. Critically analyze representations of race, class, gender, and sexuality in popular culture.
  8. Explain the role of popular culture in reinforcing and challenging social inequalities.
  9. Explain the relationship between forms of popular culture and consumerism in society.
  10. Critically analyze the impact of globalization on popular culture in Canada and around the world.
Textbook Materials

Examples of textbooks that may be used for this course include:

  • Takacs, S. (2015).  Interrogating Popular Culture: Key Questions. New York:Routledge.
  • O’Brien, Susie and Imre Szeman (2013). Popular Culture: A User’s Guide. Toronto: Nelson Education Ltd.
  • Danesi, Marcel (2012). Popular Culture: Introductory Perspectives. Lanham: Rowman and Littlefield Publishers Inc.
  • Grazian, D. (2010). Mix It Up: Popular Culture, Mass Media, and Society. New York: W.W. Norton.
  • Storey, John (2009). Cultural Theory and Popular Culture. London: Pearson Longman.
  • Storey, John (ed.) (2009).  Cultural Theory and Popular Culture: A Reader. London: Pearson Longman.
  • Kotarba, Joseph and Phillip Vannini (2009). Understanding Society Through Popular Music. New York: Routledge.
  • Becker, Howard S. (1982). Art Worlds. Berkley: University of California Press.


Course Guidelines

Course Guidelines for previous years are viewable by selecting the version desired. If you took this course and do not see a listing for the starting semester / year of the course, consider the previous version as the applicable version.

Course Transfers

These are for current course guidelines only. For a full list of archived courses please see

Institution Transfer Details for SOCI 2255
Capilano University (CAPU) CAPU SOC 2XX (3)
Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU) KPU SOCI 3275 (3)
Simon Fraser University (SFU) SFU SA 2XX (3)
Thompson Rivers University (TRU) TRU SOCI 2170 (3)
Trinity Western University (TWU) TWU SOCI 2XX (3)
University Canada West (UCW) UCW SOCI 2XX (3)
University of British Columbia - Okanagan (UBCO) UBCO SOCI 2nd (3)
University of British Columbia - Vancouver (UBCV) UBCV SOCI 2nd (3)
University of Northern BC (UNBC) UNBC SOSC 2XX (3)
University of the Fraser Valley (UFV) UFV MACS 221 (3)
University of Victoria (UVIC) UVIC SOCI 2XX (1.5)
Vancouver Island University (VIU) VIU SOCI 2nd (3)

Course Offerings

Summer 2023