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Marxism & Sociology Graduate Programs


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hello!

I'm new to this forum so please forgive me if this is a question that many of you have answered before.

 

I'm interested in Marxism and its more recent incarnations in social theory (post-Marxism, autonomism, empire, rethinking communism, Zapatistas, etc.)  I have a social-sciences background (B.A. in psychology, with a minor in applied linguistics, however, I was interested in social psychology in my undergraduate studies) and I am interested in social & critical theory / cultural studies.  Sociology seems like the proper domain in which to explore Marxism given my background in the social-sciences (as opposed to Marxism in literature, for example), although I am drawn to interdisciplinary approaches that incorporate many different dimensions of the human sciences (media theory, art, film, literature, anthropology, etc.) and I'm not committed to studying sociology.

 

Is anyone enrolled in a graduate program (M.A. or Ph.D.) or knows of one that provides a foundation in Marxism, post-Marxism, social movements, economic and political sociology, that they would recommend?  With the resurgence of interest in Marxism, à la Žižek and others, one wouldn't think this would be difficult to locate, but I'm sort of without direction here given that I've been out of university for a couple years and I did not have a sociology background in my B.A. 

 

Thanks for the advice!

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If I were you, I would consider a PhD in cultural studies. Sociologists do the kind of work you're referring to, but cultural studies is an interdisciplinary field which focuses on many of the interests you've listed. A cultural studies program may give you more to chew on than sociology a sociology program.

 

I only say that because many sociology programs will require you to take courses which don't speak to those interests. But there are sociology programs which are bastions of radicalism...

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 Sociology seems like the proper domain in which to explore Marxism given my background in the social-sciences (as opposed to Marxism in literature, for example), although I am drawn to interdisciplinary approaches that incorporate many different dimensions of the human sciences (media theory, art, film, literature, anthropology, etc.) and I'm not committed to studying sociology.

 

Have you ever taken a literature class? Postgraduate literature is almost exclusively cultural studies. Your average social sciences degree will have a fair quantitative and methodological component, which is not impossible to integrate with Marxism - but it is rather controversial. If you're set on it, though, you can try UMass-Amherst (I only know for economics, but if their economics is left-leaning, than I can only stare in horror at their soc department). Though, even there, the people who conduct rigorous studies of Zizek are doing work in history of science or some such.

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There's an old thread from this board dealing w/this question from 2012 here: 

 

I am in the same boat as you Che, not easy doing this, albeit it's easier than if you were in polisici or something, at least you have more choice. I applied to several of the schools listed at the link I gave you and basically struck out, perhaps for personal reasons. Am trying again for this Fall, but it is tough getting into that list of schools. Would be neat to meet you if we somehow wind up at the same program. Cheers and good luck!

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We do a lot of Marxism/neo-Marxism/etc. (our first year theory course is Harvey, Bourdieu, Giddens, Foucault, Butler, Latour, Haraway) and most of the department use some variation of a Marxian approach, I think. I think that's pretty common in interdisciplinary programs and the more qualitative social sciences in general. If you're interested more in bigger theory questions you might be better in a political theory program but if your want do empirical work I think any interdisciplinary social science program would suit you well.

 

Programs like History of Consciousness at UCSC also come to mind as something that might interest you. http://histcon.ucsc.edu/

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There's an old thread from this board dealing w/this question from 2012 here: 

 

I am in the same boat as you Che, not easy doing this, albeit it's easier than if you were in polisici or something, at least you have more choice. I applied to several of the schools listed at the link I gave you and basically struck out, perhaps for personal reasons. Am trying again for this Fall, but it is tough getting into that list of schools. Would be neat to meet you if we somehow wind up at the same program. Cheers and good luck!

 

breaks0;

thanks for the information! this was the kind of thread I was hoping to find. NYU does seem like an ideal program, what with its strong focus on Marxism and a solid foundation in methods. too bad it appears really hard to get into! rather ironic, actually. good luck to you, too!

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Have you ever taken a literature class? Postgraduate literature is almost exclusively cultural studies. Your average social sciences degree will have a fair quantitative and methodological component, which is not impossible to integrate with Marxism - but it is rather controversial. If you're set on it, though, you can try UMass-Amherst (I only know for economics, but if their economics is left-leaning, than I can only stare in horror at their soc department). Though, even there, the people who conduct rigorous studies of Zizek are doing work in history of science or some such.

 

ExponentialDecay;

I took a couple of literature classes in my undergraduate career. additionally, my core studies at my undergraduate university - I attended the Portland State University Honors Program - examined a good deal of literature. it just seems like I'd have a better chance of getting into a program in the social sciences. additionally, I am interested in methods, field research, etc. but I just have a strong interest in Marxist theory. it seems confusing to me that some people who are so rigourously engaged in that field come from and are now situated in literature programs (Michael Hardt, for instance).

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If I were you, I would consider a PhD in cultural studies. Sociologists do the kind of work you're referring to, but cultural studies is an interdisciplinary field which focuses on many of the interests you've listed. A cultural studies program may give you more to chew on than sociology a sociology program.

 

I only say that because many sociology programs will require you to take courses which don't speak to those interests. But there are sociology programs which are bastions of radicalism...

 

Roll Right;

perhaps cultural studies would be the way to go. I'd like to go sociology if I can find and get accepted to a program that fits my interests, mostly because I think it would be better for career prospects and because its method of inquiry is rooted in social scientific approaches. for instance, Goldsmiths' sociology program seems like another ideal program, what with someone like Alberto Toscano, an active commentator on Marxist theory and sociologist.

 

what sociology programs that are bastions of radicalism came to mind?

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breaks0;

thanks for the information! this was the kind of thread I was hoping to find. NYU does seem like an ideal program, what with its strong focus on Marxism and a solid foundation in methods. too bad it appears really hard to get into! rather ironic, actually. good luck to you, too!

 

Che, yes harder than Berkeley and Wisconsin I believe (both tied for #1 dept in the nation atm), at least statistically.

 

Oh and Che, if you're looking abroad (as am I), look at least at LSE and York too (probably others in  UK and Canada too I'm unware of). If you can stand it and get funded, there are also probably programs in Paris and elsewhere in continental Europe as well, among other places.

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Marxism in US sociology is not so friendly toward the cultural studies topics (media theory, literature, post-Marxism, etc.) you mention. It could be a result of the lasting influence of Erik Olin Wright and Michael Burawoy. That is, concerned with the material conditions of society, class power, etc. (rather than, e.g. cultural products). If you're interested in political economic sociology of this type, then Berkeley, Wisconsin, and NYU make sense (though those are all pretty difficult to get into). 

 

Cultural/media studies departments can be the home of that kind of work in the US. Brown's MCM and NYU's MCC are such places, for example. "Media" is in the title, but you don't necessarily have to study media. That's just the US's version of British cultural studies.

 

And that brings up the UK, which I understand has a more open mind toward the work you mention. Goldsmiths, as you've noted, is a great place to dig into that work. 

 

With all that said, sociology has lots of dark corners to hide in. Once you're in a program, you have some flexibility to develop your own research agenda. If done well, you can do Marxist sociology without needing to label it as such. Most sociologists are mature enough to know Marxism when they see it and not make a big fuss. The trick is selling yourself as a sociologist, with interests suited to a sociology program, in your application. If your statement of purpose announces "I want to use post-Marxist theory to understand 1970s French film", then a sociology admissions committee will direct you to the nearest cultural studies program. If you instead write "I want to understand the political economic organization and class dynamics of cultural consumption and production", then you have a home in sociology. 

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And as a more general point, the pendulum has swung toward "crass empiricism" in sociology for the time being. A great many sociologists don't look back into their theoretical heritage any farther than DiMaggio and Powell or Bourdieu. And outside the latter, European theorists are rarely mentioned. Don't get me wrong; there is good work that does plumb the theoretical wells, and such work can garner esteem. But, an admissions committee at any program is composed of quants who study the correlation between X and Y, ethnographers suspicious of any heavy handed theoretical motives, policy-wonks, etc. You need wide appeal, so you would be ill advised to portray yourself too narrowly. As I said, once you get in, there is more room for intellectual exploration and identity-building. 

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  • 2 months later...
  • 1 month later...

I am resurrecting this thread briefly w/a repost partly from a GRE thread, just trying to make sure I cover all my bases. I am actually reapplying to programs this fall after only getting 1 unfunded offer last Spring (Binghamton), which  I had to turn down for financial reasons. I am reapplying to Binghamton, Berkeley, Johns Hopkins and possibly NYU (unsure) and CUNY (either sociology or polisci). I'm also tentatively applying to Santa Barbara, Santa Cruz, Oregon and Stanford (all sociology programs) & LSE in polisci. I may add more, am still researching. 

 

My interests broadly defined are sociology of class conflict/Marxism, Chindia and either political or comp/historical sociology. I would like to use primarily qualitative methods in my future research, but secondarily some quant ones if it helps w/getting in w/full funding to one or more of these schools. I aced Stats 1 in my master's program at another private school in NY where I earned an MA in polisci, the only methods class I took in that program (now wishing I'd also taken ethnography or some qual methods course). My MA GPA was 3.86, but my resume is quite weak on the work experience side. I do, however, have 1 published paper in a foreign academic journal and have pretty sharply defined research interests and know who I'd like to work with at the schools I'm applying to. I am also hesitant about most foreign programs, since I keep hearing from several professors I've met in the US and abroad in my subfield that old boys networks still govern alot of admissions decisions and post-phd job prospects. My GRE scores are V 169 AW 5.5, but Q 150. I literally don't think I have the time or money to retake the GRE at this point, this is a gap year for me so money's tight and have student loans from my MA program.

 

So am I missing anywhere key on the list I guess for US, Canada or UK/Europe? Is there a chance at least of finding work (preferably academic job, but another too if needed)  if you do well in programs like these? 

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I am resurrecting this thread briefly w/a repost partly from a GRE thread, just trying to make sure I cover all my bases. I am actually reapplying to programs this fall after only getting 1 unfunded offer last Spring (Binghamton), which  I had to turn down for financial reasons. I am reapplying to Binghamton, Berkeley, Johns Hopkins and possibly NYU (unsure) and CUNY (either sociology or polisci). I'm also tentatively applying to Santa Barbara, Santa Cruz, Oregon and Stanford (all sociology programs) & LSE in polisci. I may add more, am still researching. 

 

My interests broadly defined are sociology of class conflict/Marxism, Chindia and either political or comp/historical sociology. I would like to use primarily qualitative methods in my future research, but secondarily some quant ones if it helps w/getting in w/full funding to one or more of these schools. I aced Stats 1 in my master's program at another private school in NY where I earned an MA in polisci, the only methods class I took in that program (now wishing I'd also taken ethnography or some qual methods course). My MA GPA was 3.86, but my resume is quite weak on the work experience side. I do, however, have 1 published paper in a foreign academic journal and have pretty sharply defined research interests and know who I'd like to work with at the schools I'm applying to. I am also hesitant about most foreign programs, since I keep hearing from several professors I've met in the US and abroad in my subfield that old boys networks still govern alot of admissions decisions and post-phd job prospects. My GRE scores are V 169 AW 5.5, but Q 150. I literally don't think I have the time or money to retake the GRE at this point, this is a gap year for me so money's tight and have student loans from my MA program.

 

So am I missing anywhere key on the list I guess for US, Canada or UK/Europe? Is there a chance at least of finding work (preferably academic job, but another too if needed)  if you do well in programs like these? 

 

Concordia, McMaster and maybe York in Canada. 

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