POPULAR CULTURE IN MEDIATED SOCIETIES - 2025/6

Module code: SOC1047

Module Overview

This module introduces students to the role and significance that popular culture plays in everyday society. Students explore how mediated societies have placed popular culture at the centre of our lives as we engage with it in its various forms in every aspect of our lives. The course covers the everyday significance of contemporary popular culture in an ever increasingly mediated society, including visual/screen media; music, and celebrity/tabloid culture. It also focuses upon the analysis of consumer culture, the social significance of phenomena such as music and fashion and the distinction between popular and high forms of culture. Students learn a wide range of perspectives and theories to understand the impact and significance that popular culture plays within our lives.

Module provider

Sociology

Module Leader

SEAL Alexander (Sociology)

Number of Credits: 15

ECTS Credits: 7.5

Framework: FHEQ Level 4

Module cap (Maximum number of students): N/A

Overall student workload

Independent Learning Hours: 106

Lecture Hours: 11

Seminar Hours: 11

Guided Learning: 11

Captured Content: 11

Module Availability

Semester 2

Prerequisites / Co-requisites

None

Module content

The module commences with an analysis of what popular culture might be and the role that mediated technologies have played in its global spread. We then turn to looking at the historical origins of a consumer society and explore how consumerism has become a dominant expression of daily life within the west. We then turn to explore how the consumption of popular culture can be viewed as manipulative and exploitative by the cultural industries before turning to an opposite view that popular culture can represent a triumph for ordinary everyday consumers. We then explore how consumption has created both subcultural and wider fan identities through the lens of active consumption. The module then turns to exploring divisions within culture by focusing on how popular culture exists in a binary with high-brow culture. The divisions between these forms of culture are analysed and deconstructed. We then investigate the role that celebrities play in sustaining and expanding a consumer society paying attention to the role that mediated technologies have played in bringing consumers and celebrities closer together. We end the module by focusing on postmodern approaches to popular culture, investigating whether there is any meaning within our consumption in a media-saturated society.

Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting
Coursework CRITICAL APPRAISAL 40
Coursework ESSAY 60

Alternative Assessment

N/A

Assessment Strategy

The assessment strategy is designed to provide students with the opportunity to demonstrate:

Both assessments are designed to allow students to apply key theoretical sociological and media frameworks to popular culture in everyday life. Both assignments develop the students’ ability to connect theory and practice by using the theoretical frameworks we explore in the modern to current trends and issues within popular culture. Both assessments therefore contain valuable transferable skills, such as product marketability, product analysis and consumer profiling through the understanding the inner-workings of a consumer society.

 

Thus, the summative assessment for this module consists of:

Assessment One: Critical Appraisal (40%) – This assessment focusses on students self-selecting a product or service of popular culture and analysing it through on of the key theoretical frameworks encountered in the first half of the module (for example mass-manipulation or active consumption) (LO4, LO5). Students therefore have autonomy to self-select something that interests them within popular culture and to apply a rigorous critical evaluation of the theoretical framework that choose to employ over it.

 

Assessment Two: Essay (60%) – This assessment allows students to self-select a topic from the module that they can explore and analyse in a narrative-driven format. This helps students to critically examine a topic they find interesting under the topic of media culture in mediated societies and to structure their argument around this topic (LO1, LO2). Through this assessment, students are required to present and discuss a range of differing perspectives over their chosen topic and to provide a coherent argument for the position they choose to take.

 

 

  Formative assessment

Students participate in weekly tasks in the seminars that are based on case studies relating to the teaching content from the lecture. Students are given feedback by the module convenor within each seminar on the activities/case studies. Students are also deeply encouraged to speak to the module convenor weekly during their office hours. In addition to the dedicated assignment preparation sessions, students are well supported in all aspects of both summative and formative assessments.

 

  Feedback

Written narrative-led feedback is delivered for both summative assessments. In addition, the module convenor delivers group feedback within the seminars for the summative assessments. Students are also encouraged to make 1:1 appointments with the module convenor to discuss feedback on any formative or summative assessments within the module to enhance their learning and confidence.

Module aims

  • Develop students' understanding of the role that popular culture plays within our daily lives.
  • Develop students' understanding of how mediated technology has facilitated the spread of popular culture in our daily lives.
  • Develop students' understanding of the origins of a consumer society and the impact this has had on the way we now live our daily lives.
  • Develop students¿ knowledge on how consumption can be conceptualized as either mass-manipulation or active consumption.
  • Develop student¿s knowledge on how distinctions between high and low brow forms of culture are enacted within society.
  • Develop students¿ knowledge on postmodern approaches to understanding popular culture.

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
001 To develop students¿ understanding of the role that popular culture plays within society. KC
002 To develop students understanding of how mediated technology facilitates the proliferation of popular culture. KC
003 To understand the historical origins and evolution of a consumer society. K
004 To understand how the cultural industries can manipulate consumers into a cycle of consumption. PT
005 To understand how consumers are able to appropriate products for meaning making and identity building. PT

Attributes Developed

C - Cognitive/analytical

K - Subject knowledge

T - Transferable skills

P - Professional/Practical skills

Methods of Teaching / Learning

The learning and teaching strategy is designed to:

The module is designed to introduce students to the key sociological and media theoretical frameworks that allow students to understand the impact and significance of a consumer society.

The weekly lectures equip students with the theoretical ideas that underpin our understanding of popular culture, mediated societies and consumer cultures.

The seminars provide students with the time and space to unpack key concepts and ideas that comprise these theories through discussion both in small groups and group feedback with the seminar leader. Within the seminars, case studies of contemporary patterns and events within popular culture and consumer culture more broadly are used in order for the students to apply the theoretical frameworks we have explored over the course of the lecture.

The module also comprises one lecture dedicated to outlining and discussing assessment 2 (the essay) in addition to an online tutorial for completing assessment 1 (the critical evaluation). This allows students to approach their assignments with confidence. In addition to these sessions, the module convenor creates ‘assignment drop-in sessions’ where the students can speak with the module convenor, 1:1, about their plans and ideas. Students are highly encouraged to use these drop-in sessions.

Indicated Lecture Hours (which may also include seminars, tutorials, workshops and other contact time) are approximate and may include in-class tests where one or more of these are an assessment on the module. In-class tests are scheduled/organised separately to taught content and will be published on to student personal timetables, where they apply to taken modules, as soon as they are finalised by central administration. This will usually be after the initial publication of the teaching timetable for the relevant semester.

Reading list

https://readinglists.surrey.ac.uk
Upon accessing the reading list, please search for the module using the module code: SOC1047

Other information

The School of Sociology is committed to developing graduates with strengths in Employability, Digital Capabilities, Global and Cultural Capabilities, Sustainability, and Resourcefulness and Resilience. This module is designed to allow students to develop knowledge, skills, and capabilities in the following areas:

Employability: Students are fully supported in how the theory translates to practice on the module. Through the module content, students gain a strong understanding in how consumer societies operate within the wider framework of capitalism. Students there gain core skills in marketing, public relations, and product development. Students leave the module with a number of transferable skills that would lend themselves well to any career in the media industries

Digital Capabilities: In this module, students will explore the role that mediated technologies have played in the worldwide expansion of popular culture. Students are therefore introduced to appraising different forms of mediated technologies and digital platforms for the spread and implementation of popular culture. By the end of the module, students are well-versed in the role that different mediated and digital technologies play in expanding consumer society.

Global and cultural capabilities: Students develop several global and cultural capabilities on the module through our constant focus on the effects of an expanding consumer society. Students learn how the west has prioritised the constant consumption of goods, whilst allocating the production of these goods to the East. Students therefore understand the exploitation that takes place within consumer societies under the wider framework of global capitalism. Students leave the module with a well-rounded understanding of the global flows and trends in both the production and consumption of popular culture.

Sustainability: Students constantly explore the social sustainability within consumer societies. Due to the exploitative nature of consumer societies, students explore the limits of sustainable production in the East for consumption in the west. Students also explore the impact that specific digital and mediated technologies have on different countries and cultures and to explore the uses and, in cases, resistance to these technologies. This demonstrates the commitment to exploring the social sustainability through the module’s content.

Resourcefulness and resilience: Students work both individually and in groups throughout the module. In terms of group work, students work together within the seminars each week to apply the theoretical framework of investigation to real life trends and issues within consumer societies. This gives students autonomy to apply their learning in creative ways. The module convenors weekly office hours, in addition to the 1:1 offer for summative feedback sessions also helps students to develop their confidence.

Programmes this module appears in

Programme Semester Classification Qualifying conditions
Media and Communication BSc (Hons) 2 Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
Sociology BSc (Hons) 2 Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module

Please note that the information detailed within this record is accurate at the time of publishing and may be subject to change. This record contains information for the most up to date version of the programme / module for the 2025/6 academic year.