Social and Cultural Philosophy
Course infoSchedule
Course moduleFTR-FIPPSB115
Credits (ECTS)5
Language of instructionEnglish
Offered byRadboud University; Faculty of Philosophy, Theology and Religious Studies; Opleiding Filosofie;
dr. G. Treiber
Other course modules lecturer
dr. G. Treiber
Other course modules lecturer
Contactperson for the course
dr. G. Treiber
Other course modules lecturer
Academic year2023
SEM1  (04/09/2023 to 28/01/2024)
Starting block
Course mode
Registration using OSIRISYes
Course open to students from other facultiesNo
Waiting listNo
Placement procedure-
[For how these objectives align with Exit Qualifications, please see the Education and Examination Regulations.]
  • The student will be introduced to key figures, texts, and concepts of social and cultural philosophy.
  • The student will learn about the relationship between philosophy and the social sciences/theoretical humanities (specifically political science and IR, sociology, anthropology, and cultural studies).
  • The student will learn to engage with complex texts and arguments and acquire critical and analytical reading skills. 
  • The student will formulate reading questions to help them comprehend the stakes (historical, philosophical, and contemporary-societal) shaping the texts or other material engaged with in class. 
  • The student will gain insights into the “fundamental concepts and core questions” of social and cultural philosophy. 
  • The student will be able to form a judgment by placing said concepts in their context and interaction with other ideas and theories, thus assessing their accuracy and analyzing their foundations. 
  • The student will learn how these complex theoretical notions apply to concrete life instances and world events (past and present). As a result, the student will be able to mobilize these theories in their analysis and comprehension of the world and future research.
  • The student will learn of the field’s different debates and disagreements and their impact on our contemporary realities. As a result, the student will be able to opt for a specific perspective/position in these debates. 
From social movements fighting inequalities to a homogenous, unified social body that needs to be defended; from cultural diversity meant to include and protect to a culture industry that diversifies to sell, the terms ’social’ and ‘cultural’ describe everything and anything while seemingly referencing some essential ‘thing’ we all think we understand. But are they so self-evident? If anything, adding the adjective social or cultural to a noun dilutes meaning and usually generates much discord. Already in 1957, philosopher and Nobel Prize laureate Friedrich Hayek argued that adding the term social to any noun causes misunderstanding and unclarities. Some of this discord relates to how we talk and use the two words; we do not mean the same thing when we use them. However, how they are defined in each case has real-life consequences, some of which polarize our societies and generate violence.   
What does social mean? What is cultural? And more exhaustively, what do society and culture mean? When did they become objects of philosophical inspection and theoretical debates? This course gives students the basics of social and cultural philosophy, from its rise in the 19th century to its dominance in different fields of the social sciences and humanities. You will be introduced to terms such as modernity, industrialization, and mass society. You will learn and discuss what culture is and how mass production has changed it radically, engaging this way with the impact of technology on society and culture. You will learn about the totality some thinkers understand society to be, if there is such a thing as a Society at all, and what happens when it fragments into groups and opposing factions and cultures. We will together navigate issues such as modernity, industrialization, the culture industry, multiculturalism, nationalism, globalization, and empire while emphasizing the intersections of class, race, religion, gender, and sexuality in each.
The course is an introductory BA1 course. 
Presumed foreknowledge
No previous knowledge is presumed.
Test information
Each student will be part of a group. The group will submit weekly reading questions (pass or fail) throughout the semester. Upon passing this task, the student individually will be eligible to take the final examination, which will include both closed and open questions and will assess knowledge, comprehension, and application. Explanation about how these questions are to be formulated will be given in the study guide and during the first session.
All texts and assignments will be available on Brightspace. Assessment in this course (the final exam) will be digital. 
Required materials
Learning Management System (Brigthspace)
All material will be made available via Brightspace.

Instructional modes
Seminar and Lecture
Attendance MandatoryYes

Digital exam
Test weight1
Test typeDigital exam with ANS
OpportunitiesBlock SEM1, Block SEM2