The interest in studying culture empirically has been growing dramatically within the discipline, and Harvard has emerged as a leading center for cultural sociology.  In their respective work, faculty are concerned with interpretation, explanation, research design, and methodology. To gain purchase on the production and reproduction of social processes in which meaning-making is central and where culture is both causal agent and adaptive force, we study a wide range of practices and institutions, including racial identity, poverty and inequality, collective memory, symbolic boundaries, cultural capital, class culture, disciplinary cultures, evaluation, nationalism, colonialism, economic change, slavery, trafficking, freedom, popular and black youth cultures, sports, transnationalism, networks, and cognition. Our theoretical orientations are diverse and inclusive, ranging from pragmatist views of culture as dynamic and contextual practices to structural notions of culture as durable norms and values.

The department sponsors the Cultural and Social Analysis Workshop.

News related to Culture

Michele Lamont

Lamont receives honorary degree

January 18, 2017

Michèle Lamont received an honorary degree from the University of Amsterdam.  She was honored for her contribution to social science, in particular cultural sociology, and its linking role between the US and the European social sciences. Photo:  Monique Kooijmans

Ya-Wen Lei stands in front of a wood and glass doorway

The Contentious Public Sphere: Law, Media, and Authoritarian Rule in China

January 5, 2017

Conventional wisdom imagines political life in authoritarian contexts to be bleak and suffocating, and popular understandings of China are no exception. Nonetheless, since the mid-2000s, a nationwide contentious public sphere has developed in China—providing an unprecedented forum for Chinese citizens to influence the public agenda and demand government accountability.

The Chinese state has increasingly, if reluctantly, come to recognize this emergent public sphere as a force it must reckon with, but it is important not to overstate the stability or permanence of this political space… Read more about The Contentious Public Sphere: Law, Media, and Authoritarian Rule in China

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