SOC 214
Exploring the American Culture Wars
Last Offered Fall 2008
Division II Writing Skills
This course is not offered in the current catalog or this is a previous listing for a current course.

Class Details

In the early 1990s, the term “culture wars” entered the lexicon of American political discourse at the same time that social scientists began using the concept to explain cultural division in contemporary American society. Proponents of the culture wars thesis discern deep and historically unprecedented fissures in the American cultural and religious landscape. Critics of the thesis, however, argue that the divide is not nearly so polarized, that there is instead relative harmony in American culture, and that America remains “one nation after all.” In examining the debate over the culture wars thesis, the course will engage a variety of questions: Is the notion of warfare a proper metaphor to depict cultural conflict in contemporary American society? In what ways is the division between so-called “red states” and “blue states” an electoral expression of the American culture wars? What are the historical roots of contemporary cultural conflict? What, if any, are the international implications of the American culture wars? In considering these questions, the course will situate the culture wars thesis within the sociological literature on religion and society and will examine a variety of cultural skirmishes in contemporary American society, including disputes within such “fields of conflict” as the family, education, law, electoral politics, and the contested role of religion in public life.
The Class: Format: tutorial; students will meet in pairs with the instructor each week for one hour
Limit: 10
Expected: 10
Class#: 1120
Grading: no pass/fail option, no fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: each week, either a 5- to 6-page analytical paper based on the assigned readings or a 2-page response (written and presented) on your partner's paper
Prerequisites: none; open to all students
Enrollment Preferences: first-year students and sophomores
Distributions: Division II Writing Skills
Attributes: AMST Critical and Cultural Theory Electives

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