Sociology & Social Work
SOC W40 Hollywood: Dream Factory. Southern California is the capital of the global entertainment industry. Its status as a center of cultural power rivals that of New York and Washington as the center of financial and political power, respectively. But what distinguishes Hollywood from these two other cities is that it is more than merely a geographic locus of activity; it is also a larger-than-life symbol in an elaborate mythology rooted in western modernity. In numerous ways Hollywood shapes hearts and minds, teaching people how to think about themselves and the world in which they live. This course will examine three distinct stages of production and consumption identified by the sociology of culture: its highly stratified, profit-driven organization; its networked, project-based execution; and its mass-marketed, niche-oriented reception. The three highly interrelated industries based in Los Angeles – motion pictures, television, and popular music – serve as the field site. Visits to industry locations and interviews with industry participants will be supplemented by a variety of written and visual resources, as well as regular lectures and discussions, to give students a “backstage” perspective that will help them understand culture and the Hollywood mythology more critically. Students will gain a sociological understanding of culture and its significance to society; identify the media megacorporations, their basic histories and significant holdings, and understand how these companies structure the field of cultural production; be familiar with the various processes of cultural production, and appreciate how these processes structure individual opportunities and careers as well as collaborative relationships; and be aware of the effects of commercial cultural products on individual and group socialization, with particular emphasis on popular understandings of “celebrity,” “reality,” and (Christian) “faith”. Student evaluation will be based on reflective journals, a presentation, and a final exam. This course may fulfill an elective in the Sociology major. Course dates: January 4-24. Fee: $2583. E. Marr. Off campus.
SOWK W80 Development in Liberia. This course examines community development as one way to bring healing to a broken nation struggling to emerge from a lengthy civil conflict. Students will listen and learn alongside some of the first social work students in Liberian history, at the Mother Patern College of Health Science in the capital of Monrovia. Together, this cohort will spend time in the classroom and in the community, learning theory and witnessing it in practice at agencies throughout the capital and in villages in the interior. The course covers a variety of approaches to the problems of poverty and sustainable development, and focuses on cross-cultural and participatory learning. Student learning will include an understanding of how Liberian history (particularly as related to the United States), politics, economics, and ecology influence past, present and future development efforts in Liberia and why knowledge about these factors is crucial to planning appropriate and sustainable development for a nation or community. Students will also be able to define community development, describe the major theories and approaches, outline common components of contemporary development, specifically those used by the Christian Reformed World Relief Committee and learn about Liberian culture and practices. Student evaluation will be based on a final written examination covering key concepts in community development and a final reflection paper. Students will also participate in a group project mapping the assets of a community within greater Monrovia. This course may fulfill an elective in the International Development Studies major. This course will fulfill the CCE requirement. Prerequisites: SOWK 240, 250 and SOC 151. Course dates: January 3-23. Fee: $3,500. R. Venema. Off campus.