Culture

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 stands in front of a lecturn

Lamont Presidential Lecture out in American Sociological Review

June 10, 2018

Michèle Lamont, Robert I. Goldman Professor of European Studies, Professor of Sociology and of African and African American Studies, served as the 108th president of the American Sociological Association in 2016-17. Her term took an unexpected turn with the election of Donald Trump in November 2016: it befell on her to take a leadership role in defending the professional interests of sociologists and the conditions for academic freedom.... Read more about Lamont Presidential Lecture out in American Sociological Review

Making Sense of a Perplexing Country and an unwieldy Subject: Studies in the sociology of development and of modern-day trafficking and slavery

Making Sense of a Perplexing Country and an unwieldy Subject: Studies in the sociology of development and of modern-day trafficking and slavery

March 1, 2018

The Confounding Island: Institutions, Culture and Mis-Development in Post-Colonial Jamaica was just delivered to the press by Professor Orlando Patterson. This book examines one of the world’s most perplexing societies. Famous for the spectacular successes of its athletes and musicians, its vibrant democracy, and its religiosity, Jamaica is equally infamous for being among the world’s most violent places.... Read more about Making Sense of a Perplexing Country and an unwieldy Subject: Studies in the sociology of development and of modern-day trafficking and slavery

Headshot of Bart Bonikowski, Assistant Professor of Sociology.

The Mobilization of Resentment: Making Sense of Populism, Nationalism, and Authoritarianism in the United States and Europe

September 7, 2017

Scholarly and journalistic accounts of the recent successes of radical-right candidates and parties in Europe and the United States tend to conflate three phenomena: populism, nationalism, and authoritarianism. While all three are relevant features of contemporary politics, they are neither coterminous nor limited to the political right. This lack of analytical clarity has hindered explanations of the causes and consequences of radicalism on both sides of the Atlantic. In a new project that builds on his past empirical research, Bart Bonikowski draws analytical distinctions between populism, nationalism, and authoritarianism, theorizes their elective affinities, and examines their shifting prevalence over the past three decades, both in political discourse and public attitudes.... Read more about The Mobilization of Resentment: Making Sense of Populism, Nationalism, and Authoritarianism in the United States and Europe

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