This course is about cultural dynamics. First, the course frames cultural markets as valuable testing grounds for theories of socially influenced behavior prone to complex social dynamics and hard-to-predict collective outcomes. Second, classical and contemporary theories of peer influence and collective decision-making are employed and evaluated. This includes the application of formal models and statistical techniques from social diffusion research. Third, we focus on state-of-the-art methods to study social dynamics in domains such as collective attention, cultural polarization, and crowd wisdom.
This course is intended to introduce students to the principles guiding human behavior in fast-paced and socially visible (market) settings, the various methods employed to analyze how products, behaviors, and attitudes spread in populations, and sociological theorizing on how social interaction brings about unexpected and often counterintuitive collective outcomes. Students will learn to generate their own research questions, design their own research project, and draft a first manuscript. These skills will help students to plan and implement their master’s theses.