Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Great Books from Graduate School Vol. 1: Media, Culture, The Self, and Race

After spending the last 10 years in the mythical real world, I plunged back into graduate school at Texas A&M University.

I am often asked, what do you do with a PhD. in Sociology? In response, I laugh and then proceed with a lengthy lecture about the advantages of studying PhD. over an MBA.

In reality, individuals, cultures, and the interworking of small and large societies stir a curiosity that has driven me since a child.

So what do you do with a PhD. in what seems to be a dying discipline? Teach? Research? Complain about conservatives? Use big words? Well - yes, yes, and yes.

But if approached in a different way, sociology is a discipline for the intellectually curious. It is a discipline for philosophers that seek for a concrete answer even when they understand there is no such thing.

Sociology provides a breadth of social understanding that prepares those who seek new answers to timeless problems a strong position in the market of employment.

But more importantly, if a student of humanity and culture is able to peel away his own blinders, even if just an inch, he will be unable to ignore the systems that influence his and his culture's beliefs - good and bad.

In conclusion, if I knew what I wanted to be when I grew up, I wouldn't be a 32 year old graduate student. Despite the financial sacrifice of leaving the workforce, I wouldn't trade the pursuit of knowledge for anything (that is probably not true but you get the point).

If you too have the same curiosity about yourself, someone else, and society, allow me to recommend these books. Each is a book that has shaped or reshaped the way I see the world and a book that I wish Barnes & Noble would carry and people would buy.

Speeding Up Fast Capitalism - Ben Agger

Media Culture - Douglas Kellner

Civilization and it's Discontents - Sigmund Freud

Mind, Self, and Society - George Herbert Mead

Two-Faced Racism - Joe Feagin

One Dimensional Man - Herbert Marcusse

Expecting a book report next month,


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