The study of culture is arguably the most ubiquitous dimension in sociology. Cultural issues traverse—because they constitute—virtually every domain within social analysis. Culture is the link between the most discrete practices of everyday conversation, and the most sprawling organizational and institutional networks that bind states, politics, markets, religion and ideology across time and space. The department’s strengths lie partly in the rich theoretical, analytical and methodological diversity among the faculty. Historically oriented research that examines the intersecting role of cultural factors in knowledge formations, political regimes, and institutions is complimented by research that highlights more contemporary cases in which culture intersects the politics of gender, sexuality and race. Cultural issues are also located within distinct social settings such as prisons, media production and consumption, internet/online behavior, governmental census policies, law, the labor process and the work place, education, and religion. The culturally constitutive dimensions of language are also important highlights within the department’s research. Our faculty have also played key roles in introducing the cultural turn in the study of Social Movements. Department faculty have also implemented a number of major conferences on topics such as Multiculturalism, Politics, and Music. The biennial Cultural Turn Conference (four thus far organized by Mohr and Friedland) has been nationally recognized. Recently, the very successful international conference on Globalization (Appelbaum, Robinson) featured many speakers whose work demonstrated the crucial ties between cultural analysis and transnational developments. While the diverse interests and strengths of the faculty in the area of culture have earned our department a place among the highest ranked departments in the country, no other department can claim the kind of intellectual diversity and analytical synergy present in the Sociology department at UCSB.
Culture is a core area within the department and it intersects deeply and broadly with all of the other areas. The study of culture within the UCSB Sociology department is well-established; more than a dozen faculty have core interests in culture, and nearly all the research interests of the faculty have cultural dimensions. Our department’s breadth and depth in this area are also well-recognized. We have been consistently ranked among the top 5 in this area of specialty by the U.S. News and World Report and several faculty in this area culture have also served in key leadership positions within the American Sociological Association.
For 30 years, the Sociology Department at UCSB has been at the forefront of research and graduate training in social movements and collective action. Richard Flacks’ foundational work on student, New Left, and labor movements established the department as a magnet for scholars and students interested in social movements and political protest.