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2011/2012  BA-HASOC_VWCM  Why Culture Matters: Cultural Sociology in Organisations

English Title
Why Culture Matters: Cultural Sociology in Organisations

Course Information

Language English
Point 7,5 ECTS (225 SAT)
Type Elective
Level Bachelor
Duration One Semester
Course Period Autumn
Pending schedule: Monday 11.40-14.15, week 36-38 Monday 11.40-13.20, week 39-41, 43-45 Monday 11.40-14.15, week 46-49
Time Table Please see course schedule at e-Campus
Max. participants 60
Study Board
Study Board for BSc in Business Administration and Sociology
Course Coordinator
  • Liv Egholm Feldt - Department for Business and Politics
Secretary: Mette Grue Nielsen - mgn.dbp@cbs.dk
Main Category of the Course
  • Economic and organizational sociology

Taught under Open University-Taught under open university.
Last updated on 29 maj 2012
Learning Objectives
Through this course, students will acquire knowledge about sociological approaches to conceptualising and exploring culture and the relevance of the ‘cultural turn’ to the analysis and understanding of a variety of objects, including, for instance, the formation of individual and collective work identities, and organizational norms and values.
On successful completion of the course, the student should be able to:

• Identify and analyse at an advanced level the central assumptions of the theories covered in the curriculum
• Identify the core dimensions of the ‘cultural turn’ and assess the theoretical and substantive strengths and weaknesses of this approach in exploring and analysing the range of subjects and objects covered in the curriculum
• Explain and discuss an advanced understanding of the cultural constitution and effects of (economic and) organizational activities.
The students must document a level in English equal to TOEFL 575 The course is designed to students who have completed the first 2 years of their bachelor study.
Individial home assignment
Individial home assignment:
Assessment Home Assignment
Marking Scale 7-step scale
Censorship No censorship
Exam Period December/January
Aids Open Book, Written and Electronic Aid is permitted
Duration Please, see the detailed regulations below
Aids: All
Assessment: 7-point scale of one individual assignment of max. 10 standard pages. The topic of the assignment must be accepted by the lectures. The assessment is done by one internal examiner .
Course Content

The sets of processes and relations we have come to know as ‘the economy’ or as ‘the organization’ no longer appear as obvious as once they were. Many established certainties – both practical and academic – concerning what makes organizations hold together or markets work seems less clear-cut and our knowledge of them feels less secure. Yet among these proliferating uncertainties has emerged a belief that something called culture is somehow both critical to understanding what is happening to, as well as to practically intervening in contemporary economic and organizational life.

This ‘cultural turn’ has taken many different forms depending on context and preferred project. In a large number of formal organizational settings – both public and private – for example, managers have found themselves turning to ‘culture’ as a means of attempting to improve organizational performance. A central feature of this particular ‘cultural turn’ is a renewed attention to the production of meaning at work. ’Culture’ is accorded a privileged role in this endeavour because it is seen to play a crucial role in structuring the way people think, feel and act in organizations.

As in the worlds of management and organizations, so too in terms of knowledge, theory and understanding of economic and organizational life within the social and human sciences. Here, also, culture has assumed an enhanced significance and explanatory weight. This has involved more than various disciplines putting cultural questions closer to the centre of their concerns, alongside e.g. economic processes, social relations, and political institutions. It has involved a reversal in the relationship between the vocabularies and concepts used to describe and analyse things, and the things themselves. Instead of viewing a market or an organization as existing prior to or independently of descriptions of it, the turn to culture instigates a reversal of this perception, by indicating the ways in which objects are constituted through the discourses used to describe them and to act upon them.

This course will seek to explore these two aspects of the recent ‘cultural turn’ and explain and analyse how they are have become entwined in the field of contemporary organization and management studies. It begins by establishing a common platform for understanding what the “cultural turn” is and how it has been integrated into the field of organizational studies. We will also discuss why and how culture has come to play a significant role for both organizational research and organizational practices. From this general overview of the research field, the course moves into more specific themes and issues of relevancein relation to the cultural part of organizational life at both a macro and micro level. The course concludes with a discussion of how current positions have challenged and transformed the “cultural turn” and we will raise the question whether or not the “cultural turn” has run out of steam?

Teaching Methods
The course material involves a mix of theory and case studies and will address the many ways in which culture pervades social and organizational life. The readings in this course will analyse the role of culture in a wide variety of central arenas, from culture production and identity formations to belongingness and communities. Thus, this course will be relevant to a diversity of fields, while at the same time exposing students to a critical social sciences perspective.
The course contains of 12 lectures, which are intended to further develop theoretical underpinnings of the themes in the literature as well as preparing space for class discussions. Teaching is based on lectures, case analyses and discussions. Active participation by the students is a must. Each teaching session includes lectures and workshops with presentations and discussions. Students are expected to participate actively and to prepare minor group presentations The course literature is challenging and the course students are encouraged to form study groups

Suggested literature: articles and selections from the following books

Appadurai 1990. Modernity at Large. Cultural Dimensions of Globalization. University of Minnesota Press. Minneapolis. London

Bourdieu: Practical Reason: On the Theory of Action, Stanford University Press, 1998. Or Distinction 1984

Calhoun, C. 1994. "Social Theory and the Politics of Identity." Pp. 9-36 in Social Theory and the Politics of Identity, edited by Craig Calhoun. Cambridge: Blackwell

Callon, M. 1998. The Laws of the Markets Oxford: Blackwell

De Certeau, M., 1984: “The Practice of Everyday Life.

Du Gay, P. 1996. ”Organizing Identity” Cultural Identity. (Eds)Paul du Gay & Stuart Hall p.151-170

Du Gay, P. 1997. Production of Culture/Cultures of ProductionLondon:Sage

Du Gay, P. 2007. Organizing Identity: persons and Organizations ‘after theory’ London:Sage

Egholm Feldt, L. & Lotz, M. 2010.Making Joint Learning” .

Foucault, M 1998 The Will to Knowledge: History of Sexuality:1 London Penguin Books.

Goffman, Erving (1959[1990]). The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life. London: Penguin.

Kjeldgaard D. and S. Askegaard 2006, “The Glocalization of Youth Culture: The Global Youth Segment as Structures of Common Difference”, Journal of Consumer Research, vol. 22 (September), 231-247.

Latour, B. & Weibel, P. 2005. (edt) Making Things Public: Atmospheres of Democracy, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press,

Maffesoli, M. 2003. The time of the tribes : the decline of individualism in mass society. London.Sage.

Rose, N. &Miller, P. 2008. Governing the Present: Administering economic, social and personal life Cambridge: Polity

Robertson, 1995.v"Glocalization: Time-space and homogeneity-heterogeneity” in Global Modernities. Ed. Mike Featherstone, Scott Lash, Roland Robertson