Media and culture in modern societies

Offer semester
1st semester

Lecture time
Tuesday 13:30 – 15:20

Lecture venue

Course description

This course is a response to the “cultural shift” taken place in societies and social sciences in the past century. The “cultural shift” points to the increasing centrality of media and culture in social life and in approaches to understanding modern societies. This shift is revealed in momentous changes such as the globalization of cultural and creative industries and the expansion of media and communication technologies. There is now a quest to understand the evolution of social life by examining not only what culture is but also what culture does. This understanding of cultural practices and collective representations, circulated primarily through media nowadays, is valuable in and of itself as our social life has fundamentally transformed in globalization. This course focuses on a selected range of media representations and cultural practices in modern societies and seeks to account for the dynamics underlying them. The topics are arranged more or less in a micro-to-macro manner, starting from the key theoretical approaches from sociology to the study of media and culture to empirical research on the constitution of and the changes in the meanings of social life.

Course learning outcomes

  1. Comprehend the basic sociological concepts of media and culture.
  2. Engage in the sociological debates over the role of media and culture in society and social life across different societal contexts in globalization.
  3. Acquire intellectual and research skills to analyze the changing role of media and culture in modern societies.


Tutorial participation10%
Reflective Piece30%
Project presentation20%

Required reading

Thompson, John B. 1995. The Media and Modernity: A Social Theory of the Media. Stanford, CA.: Stanford University Press.

Griswold, Wendy, Christopher Carroll, Gemma Mangione, Michelle Naffziger, and Talia Schiff. 2013. Cultures and Societies in a Changing World, 4th ed. London; Thousand Oaks, CA.: SAGE.

Recommended reading

Thornham, Sue, Caroline Bassett, and Paul Marris, eds. 2009. Media Studies: A Reader, 3rd ed. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.

Crane, Diana, eds. 1994. The Sociology of Culture: Emerging Theoretical Perspectives. Cambridge, MA.: Blackwell Publishers.

Crane, Diana, Nobuko Kawashima, and Ken’ichi Kawasaki, eds. 2002. Global Culture: Media, Arts, Policy, and Globalization. New York: Routledge.

Hesmondhalgh, David. 2013. The Cultural Industries, 3rd ed. London: SAGE.

Course co-ordinator and teachers

Student view

This course was well structured and I was very intellectually stimulated by the content. I really enjoyed this course because it gave me a new perspective on how culture influences so many aspects of everyday life, from the small scale (e.g. the social construction of our bodily image) to the large scale (e.g. nationalism). This course also offers various opportunities to critically reflect on how modernity shapes individuals and societies.

– Ivan Ng, 4th year Sociology Minor undergraduate student