This course provides students with an introduction to sociology using the experience of Prague as a springboard for learning about local and global issues from sociological perspective. Among many things, sociology is about the study of society, social inequality, different human systems, and how people create meanings particularly when working together in a group. The city of Prague is exceptionally interesting to examine from a sociological perspective as it offers rather rich social and cultural history permeated with either similar or completely opposite paradigms of life, when compared with those in the United States.
We are going to build our sociological experience in Prague by embracing, as I would call, the Kafkaesque experience, which is so often – and, indeed, very aptly – associated with life in the former Czechoslovakia, and often in the present Czech Republic.
We will examine the cultural heritage of the city marked with the traces of past centuries which witnessed the monarchy, fascism, communism, and the present day democratic capitalism. This will involve some visits to different sites in Prague, which are significant for their social and historical context, as well as to art museums.
Assigned readings will offer a mix of sociological texts by Marx, Durkheim, Giddens, and Goffman, as well as by various local and foreign writers commenting on contemporary issues currently troubling the Czech society.