BASS Politics and Criminology / Course details

Year of entry: 2022

Course unit details:
Power and Culture: Inequality in Everyday Life

Unit code SOAN10301
Credit rating 10
Unit level Level 1
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Offered by Anthropology
Available as a free choice unit? Yes



Power and Culture explores some contributions made to the social sciences by social and cultural anthropology. The overall aim is to spark the students' anthropological imagination with some key insights that the discipline has developed, highlighting the specific perspectives that are offered by anthropologists on a range of themes. Dealing with a broad range of topics, the module is built around the implications of the straightforward anthropological notion of the 'social construction' of human realities, including many that are commonly experienced as 'natural'. Given the existing diversity in such social arrangements in the world, anthropological studies often draw attention to 'cultural relativity', i.e. the belief that there exists a variety of ways of experiencing the world and that these should be understood in relation to their own cultural context. Importantly, it is impossible to grasp this variety in terms of hierarchy and/or evolution, as if different worldviews reflected various stages on a civilisational ladder. The extent to which this awareness of cultural relativity should then frame our moral judgements is a matter of debate; i.e. a debate as to the merits of cultural relativism. Starting from a variety of case studies, we relate those to theoretical developments, central concepts and schools of thought in anthropology and their implications.


Power and Culture: Inequalities in Everyday Life provides an introduction into social anthropology for students with various academic backgrounds.

Learning outcomes

Relying on a variety of anthropological case materials, the course develops a number of themes around two main concepts: social construction and cultural relativity. Students are thus encouraged to appreciate the particular contribution that anthropology makes to understanding society.

Teaching and learning methods

Lectures/Films/Tutorials/Discussions/Office Hours



Assessment methods

Two written assignments to be submitted on turn-it-in

- one 500 word mid-term assignment worth 30% (November)

- one 1,000 word final assignment worth 70% (January)


Feedback methods


For feedback please see the blackboard page where this is explained in detail.



Recommended reading

Useful introductory texts include:

Eriksen T.H. 2001. Small places, large issues: an introduction to social and cultural anthropology (3rd ed). London: Pluto.

MacClancy J. (ed) 2002. Exotic no more: anthropology on the frontlines. Chicago UP.

Pocock D. 1998. Understanding social anthropology. London: Athlone Press.

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 20
Tutorials 10
Placement hours
Placement 100
Independent study hours
Independent study 78

Additional notes

Length of Course: 12 weeks


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