Sociology of Cultural Difference

Course Code: SOCI 233

Academic Year: 2023-2024

Why do we laugh at stereotypes? Where do our stereotypes come from? Do teachers stream students based on race? Is multiculturalism segregating Canadians into ethnic enclaves? Do we need black-focused schools? Why do youths want to look gangsta? These are some of the questions this course will examine. Moving through theoretical perspectives on race, ethnicity, culture and stereotyping, this course takes students into a range of contemporary settings, from Hollywood to Bollywood, artist studios to courtrooms, schools to fashion runways and television to immigrant neighbourhoods. The course will explore how notions of race, ethnicity, cultural difference and stereotyping function, shaping our everyday lives and the world around us. Using readings, videos, images, films and other materials, we will question our own preconceptions and assumptions of key notions that pertain to cultural differences, such as race, ethnicity, whiteness, stereotypes, the exotic, beauty ideals, colonialism and multiculturalism. The course will analyse and discuss how these notions permeate our popular culture, be it ethnic comedies, reality TV programs, fashion trends, visual art or crossover Bollywood hits. The course will also apply sociological perspectives on race, ethnicity, culture and difference to recent debates about faith-based and black-focused schools, racial profiling, high school dropout rates and ethnically-segregated neighbourhoods.