My daughter is in the first year of a degree in mass media and communications. Several of the subjects she’s studying draw heavily upon various social theorists such as Ferdinand de Saussure, Roland Bathes, Marx, Stuart Hall etc. I am kind of reliving my undergrad days, recalling names I studied in social theory in third year sociology and my honours year.
Unfortunately, she’s doing subjects which are largely ‘cultural studies’ by another name; the same discipline responsible (in Australia) for having Year 12 student study posters as ‘texts’. I say unfortunately, because … well … how do I say this politely? I’m not convinced cultural studies should be a discipline in itself – but I should save that for another post. Which brings me to the reason for this post.
Social theorists seem to come in two camps: the exceedingly dull (in writing style or personality) or the flamboyant. For example, his prose might not rock your world -and he is no longer THE theorist whom all aspiring social scientists MUST quote in their essays, but you could hardly call Michel Foucault dull. Thus, in writing this post, I am picking up on the humourous, the bizarre, the odd little snippets to make you smile about the social theorists whose names drove you spare in Sociology 101.