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Culture: Social Psychology and Media

The specialization in culture includes three overlapping areas of inquiry: culture, social psychology and media. The underlying goal that unites these areas of inquiry is to examine micro-macro linkages and discover the relationships between society and the attitudes, beliefs and behaviors of individuals. The first area, culture, involves the study of how systems of ideas shape other social structures. Drawing on cultural theory, students and faculty examine concepts and methods that reveal the cultural aspects of social life at the individual and group levels. The second area focuses on theories and research in social psychology. It emphasizes both individual and group processes (e.g., cognition, emotion, perception, attitude formation) and interactive processes (e.g., communication, socialization, identity construction) from a sociological perspective. The third area of specialization includes a focused investigation of media. The central aim is to understand the relationships between social forces (e.g., culture, economy, politics) and the content of media and communication (e.g., news, television, social media). Another goal is to investigate the relation of media content to human consciousness and behavior. The key methods of media research, content analysis in particular, are also emphasized.


Current faculty research includes studies of social psychology, group processes, experimental methods, symbolic interactionism, constructing social problems, social and psychological responses to perceived threats, and the role and impact of the media on attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors. Proposed graduate course offerings reflect this diversity. After taking a required course on the Individual and Society, students may take electives in sociology of culture, social psychology, symbolic interactionism, situational social psychology, media and society, cultural criminology, environmental justice, and group processes.

 The required course in the culture specialization is SOCA 780 – Individual and Society.

The elective courses in the culture specialization may include: