Sociology 4013A
Senior Seminar
(Peter Weeks, Fall, 2006)

Office Location: EC219 Monday & Wednesday at 3:30
Phone: 452-0467 Semester 1
E-Mail: Classroom EC234

Course Description:
This seminar is concerned with globalization and cyberspace (especially the Internet). It starts with an examination of key concepts and models of globalization itself, including the relations of the global to the local. We explore the relevance of the new information technological revolution in facilitating and speeding up of many globalizing processes. An important aspect is the growing dominance of global corporations, including media conglomerates and their dissemination of Western, particularly American, popular culture, and the various forms of resistance to and local reinterpretations of these messages. We encounter the question of whether there is developing a “global culture” dominated by the U.S. or whether globalization is leading to more cultural diversity.

In this connection, there are many claims about what Marshall McLuhan had earlier dubbed as “the global village” and how this technology is an irresistible force transforming the very nature of society and communities themselves. This form of “technological determinism” has encountered numerous criticisms which we will consider. We shall examine the various types of computer-media communication (CMC) in cyberspace and whether “cybercommunities” can be considered to be genuine communities. In addition, alternate uses of the Internet, whether for criminal or deviant uses, organizing protests, or free music or video downloading, have important implications.

Finally, globalization and its relation to cyberspace leads to the need to modify our models of societies which are no longer as self-contained as they were. We shall consider “the network society” as proposed by Castells and others.

This advanced seminar will be an opportunity to apply the different sociological perspectives you have studied to these processes. They can range from the macrosociological study of large-scale processes and social structures to the microsociological examination of our daily uses of computers and the relations mediated through them. The organization of topics will be flexible enough to accommodate some of our interests as they emerge.

Required Readings:
We shall be using a coursepack edited by your Instructor under the title of Globalization and Cyberspace Reader. It is available for purchase in the UNB Bookstore.

Other materials will be distributed later.

Assignments & Evaluation:
The primary purpose of this course is to encourage discussion about many issues, including outline above. As this is a seminar, you need, first of all, to keep up with the assigned readings so that you are prepared to discuss the ideas raised in them. In addition, the major assignment is an informal presentation as a basis for class discussion on a given essay topic. The ideas and criticisms that arise in class can be incorporated into the later polished versions of this paper.

The marks for this will be divided up as follows:

The reports are summaries and critical discussion of the arguments raised in the assigned readings. There will be no final examination.

Outline of Topics:

1. Globalization in general:

2. The relations between the global & the local:

3. Globalization & Culture (including popular culture):

4. “Cyberspace”:

5. McLuhan’s major ideas & predictions:

6. ALTERNATIVE USES of the Internet, including:

7. The “NETWORK SOCIETY” and related new models of societies in the global context.

1006 Introduction to Sociology
2313 Deviance
2513 Sociology of Communication
2613 Sociology of Gender
3013 Classical Sociological Theory
3023 Modern Sociological Theory
3513 Sociology of Education
3523 Sociology of Knowledge
3563 Sociology of Music
3573 Sociology of Art & Culture
4013 Senior Seminar
4033 Advanced Sociological Theory

Dr. Peter Weeks / Sociology / Faculty / STU Homepage