Urban society and culture

Offer semester
1st semester

Lecture time
Thursday 16:30 – 18:20

Lecture venue

Course description

What is a city? Does “city” mean “urban”? What are the structural and rhetorical forces that shape the rural-urban divide? What makes a public space attrative to urban dwellers? Why are gay parades possible in some cities but not others? How do we talk about cultural and social diversity without overlooking inequality, exclusion and domination in a complex urban environment? How do different power regimes – colonial, post-colonial, socialist, neoliberal – configure urban forms and everyday life? How does selected memory and preservation become a tool of political struggle, and how does gentrification reconfigure landscape as much as social space? In this course, we see cities and urban life as spatial, political, socio-economic and cultural phenomena as well as processes.

We will examine urban life at different times and places by exploring a series of debates and case studies. Our approach is interdisciplinary: we draw on insights and perspectives offered by anthropology, sociology, geography, history and cultural studies, and our inquiries are informed by various social theories, analytical concepts, case studies and research methods.

Course learning outcomes

  • Grasp some of the key concepts of the study of urban society and culture.
  • Know the general historical background of the emergence of cities (with the focuses on cities in Asia, North America and Europe).
  • Identify the major trends of urbanization and its social impact on urban culture in the recent decades.
  • Analytically engage in the current debates over urbanization and future of cities in recent decades.
  • Evaluate the impacts of urbanization on urban culture, nature and everyday life.
  • Apply the concepts to reflect on personal experiences of living in or visiting cities.


Presentation 10%
Class Participation 10%
Observation Report15%
Individual Update10%
Final Presentation15%
Written Report40%

Required reading

There is no textbook for this course. However, the following titles will give you a comprehensive review of the current debates on the sociological studies of tourism.

Gottidiener, M. and Hutchison, R. (2011). The New Urban Sociology (4th ed.). Boulder, CO.: Westview Press.

Harvey, D. (2012). Rebel Cities: From the Right to the City to the Urban Revolution. New York: Verso.

Jacobs, J. (1961). The Death and Life of Great American Cities. New York: Vintage Book.

LeGates, R., and Stout, F. (2016). The City Reader (6h. ed.). Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge.

Miles, M., Hall, T. and Borden, I. (eds.) (2004). The City Cultures Reader. (2nd ed.) London; New York: Routledge.

Course co-ordinator and teachers

Office opening hours adjustment