Course Title

SOC 492/592: Culture and Community

Field experience in Guinea, West Africa

Section C70; CRN: SOC 492: 23149; SOC 592: 23150

Academic Credit

3 credit hours

Summer I semester, 2009


SOC 101 or permission of instructor.

Course Instructor

The instructor in this course is Dr. Alan Barton, Associate Professor of Sociology and Community Development at Delta State University.

The best way to reach Dr. Barton is to use the Blackboard e-mail feature. He will respond the next time he signs on to Blackboard.

Course Description

Welcome to Culture and Community! This course is taught in conjunction with a Delta State University Field Experience in Guinea, West Africa. The excursion is part of the Community Drumming Experience group at DSU.

In this course, we will study aspects of West African culture, focusing on drumming and music, and we will use the concept of culture to interpret our activities in the field. We also will consider the concept of community, and compare traditional, community-based social systems such as those found in Guinea to modern, bureaucratic social systems such as what we are accustomed to in the U.S. We will examine some of the ramifications, both positive and negative, of community systems and apply this concept in our field studies.

Some students will take Culture and Community during our stay in Guinea, from June 1 to 30, 2009. Other students will take the course on-line, so part of the course will involve communication between the field students and the on-line students. The students in Guinea will keep their observations in a journal and post these to a blog, and the on-line students will use these posts to develop questions that apply the concepts from the reading to ask about conditions and events in Guinea. Some flexibility will be necessary in the execution of the course to account for conditions in Guinea; for example, it may be very easy at times to post to the blog and more difficult at other times due to power outages, national holidays, or other unforeseeable circumstances. We will adjust accordingly, and all students are asked to go along with changing conditions as necessay.

Course Readings

The following book is required. You can purchase this book from the publisher or from an on-line bookseller:

Stone, Ruth M. (2005). Music in West Africa: Experiencing Music, Expressing Culture. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN: 978-0-19-514500-7.

The following articles are required. You can access all of the articles through Blackboard:

Wilkinson, Kenneth P. (1991). The Community: An Interactional Approach. Chapter 1 (pp. 11 - 36) in The Community in Rural America, by K. P. Wilkinson. Middleton, WI: Social Ecology Press.

Robert N. Bellah, Richard Madsen, William M. Sullivan, Ann Swidler and Steven M. Tipton. (1985). Getting Involved. Chapter 7 (pp. 167 - 195) in Habits of the Heart: Individualism and Commitment in American Life, by R. N. Bellah, et al. New York: Harper and Row.

Etzioni, Amitai. (1993). Back to We. Chapter 4 (pp. 116 - 133) in The Spirit of Community: The Reinvention of American Society, by A. Etzioni. New York: Touchstone Books.

Putnam, Robert D. (2000). Informal Social Connections. Chapter 6 (pp. 93 - 115) in Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community, by R. D. Putnam. New York: Touchstone Books.

Murithi, Tim. (2007). A Local Response to the Global Human Rights Standard: The Ubuntu Perspective on Human Dignity. Globalisation, Societies and Education, 5(2), 277 - 286.

Ramose, Mogobe B. (2003). The Philosophy of Ubuntu and Ubunty as a Philosophy. Pp. 230 - 238 in The African Philosophy Reader, Second Edition, edited by P. H. Coetzee and A. P. J. Roux. London: Routledge.

The following articles are recommended and are available through Blackboard:

Durkheim, Emile. (1892). Mechanical Solidarity Through Likeness. Chapter 2 (pp. 70 - 110) in The Division of Labor in Society, by E. Durkheim. New York: The Free Press.

Wanless, Dave. (2007). Ubuntu - We All Belong to Each Other. International Congregational Journal, 7(1), 117 - 119.

Course Goals

Students taking this course will:

Learning Outcomes

Upon completion of this course, students will be able to:

Delta State University Mission

Delta State University is a regional Carnegie Master's I university located in Cleveland, Mississippi. DSU serves as an educational and cultural center for the Mississippi Delta, emphasizing service to the Northern Delta counties through its main campus in Cleveland, its satellite campus centers in Clarksdale and Greenville, and its growing on-line education program.

The University offers undergraduate, graduate and continuing education programs of study leading to baccalaureate and master's degrees in the Colleges of Arts and Sciences, Business, Education, and the School of Nursing, as well as a Doctorate in Education.

Emphasis is placed on excellence in instruction, followed by service and research, in the creation of a community of scholars. With special attention to small classes, a friendly
environment, and a broad liberal arts foundation, the University encourages significant student-faculty interactions. Delta State provides programs and services that promote
intellectual, cultural, ethical, physical, and social development. Students from different cultural, socioeconomic, and ethnic backgrounds will develop the ability to respect and evaluate the thoughts of others; to develop, assess, and express their own thoughts effectively; and to use the techniques of research and performance associated with their disciplines.


Last Modified: 5/24/09

Copyright © 2009- Dr. Alan Barton