College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Harriet Hartman: Professor, Sociology









Sociology for "Scientific" Eyes
Culture: Teaching Ideas

Teaching Ideas

A. General

  • The culture of science, and the culture of learning science/computer science/ technology/math (cf. Margolis & Fisher, Unlocking the Clubhouse, MIT Press, 2003 among others)
  • Ths. Kuhn, (The Structure of Scientific Revolutions,U of Chicago Press, 1962) & paradigm shifts
    • Galileo and the Church
  • How culture affects definition & practice of science (e.g., Islam, Mormons)
  • Characteristics of cyberculture, virtual society (including language)
    • “Death of distance” (F. Cairncross, Death of Distance, Harvard Bus. School, 2001)
    • Norms and consequences of computer-mediated communication
    • Nature of “community”—changing? (cf. S. Woolgar, ed., 2002, Virtual Society, Oxford University Press)
    • Leet speak
  • How technology (e.g., tv/mass media) redefines/challenges cultural ontology (e.g., blurring fantasy/”empirical reality”--examples: The Truman Show, Matrix, Pleasantville; affects conceptualization of time)
  • Gemeinschaft vs. gesellschaft, organic vs. mechanical solidarity—How teamwork bridges the concepts
  • The socio-cultural construction of nature and sexuality (* A. Fausto-Sterling,”The Five Sexes: Why Male and Female are Not Enough”)
  • Cultural lag – reasons for resisting social change related to technological advances
    • Rational factors
    • Emotional factors
    • Trust
    • Communication
  • Culture/Media:
    • How American TV series are viewed and understood in other societies. Liebes & Katz, The Export of meaning. 1990.

B. Norms

  • Norms of science (Merton)
    • universalism—vs. particularism, ethnocentrism: atomic bomb dilemma
    • communalism—but individual competition for prizes, awards, promotions
    • disinterestedness—but pharmaceutical research
    • organized skepticism—but resistance to paradigm change, alternative medicine…)
  • Norms of cyberculture (e.g., email, IMing, text messaging)

C. Values

  • Ontological changes resulting from “virtualizing” society

D. Globalization

  • “Death of distance” (F. Cairncross, Death of Distance, Harvard Bus. School, 2001)
  • Reaction to American TV series in other countries (cf. T. Liebes, E. Katz, The Export of Meaning: Cross-Cultural Readings of Dallas, Oxford U. Press, 1990)


Rowan University | College of Liberal Arts and Sciences | Department of Sociology