Fall 2017 - SA 364 D100

Urban Communities and Cultures (SA) (4)

Class Number: 2581

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Sep 5 – Dec 4, 2017: Tue, 8:30 a.m.–12:20 p.m.

  • Prerequisites:

    SA 101 or 150 or 201W.



Anthropological approaches to urbanization, the nature of the city as a social system, and urban cultures and lifestyles. Students with credit for SA 464 may not take SA 364 for further credit.


This course examines how anthropologists endeavour to understand the varied forms of sociality, inequality, and creativity characteristically found in cities. Its primary aim is to specify the circumstances and means by which a broad range of urban lives, identities, communities, and public problems are socially and culturally constructed. This examination will be based upon recent ethnographic studies that take account of the structural features and challenges encountered within urban settings, as well as the everyday practices that urban dwellers devise in their attempts to shape more or less satisfying lives within these complex locales.

The competing attractions of identity and anonymity, sociality as well as solitude, membership in communities and maintenance of individuality, rest at the heart of urbanites’ intricate social undertakings and varied experiences. What is more, each of these ostensibly contrasting possibilities remains linked to more mundane tasks, such as obtaining livelihoods, making homes, and addressing the competing priorities of others. Paying attention to the analytical implications of ‘community,’ ‘culture’ and ‘public problems’ provides insight into the processes by which individual lives may be reconciled with participation in—or, at least, some degree of co-existence with a variety of formal and informal groups.

The materials for this course combine ethnographic accounts and analyses, as well as other published accounts and visual depictions of urban lives, cultures, and communities.


  • First in-class examination 25%
  • Second in-class examination 25%
  • Final project 25%
  • Seminar participation 25%


Where a final exam is scheduled and you do not write the exam or withdraw from the course before the deadline date, you will be assigned an N grade. Unless otherwise specified on the course outline, all other graded assignments in this course must be completed for a final grade other than N to be assigned.

Academic Dishonesty and Misconduct Policy
The Department of Sociology and Anthropology follows SFU policy in relation to grading practices, grade appeals (Policy T 20.01) and academic dishonesty and misconduct procedures (S10.01‐ S10.04).  Unless otherwise informed by your instructor in writing, in graded written assignments you must cite the sources you rely on and include a bibliography/list of references, following an instructor-approved citation style.  It is the responsibility of students to inform themselves of the content of SFU policies available on the SFU website: http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student.html.



Didier Fassin (2011) Enforcing Order: An Ethnography of Urban Policing. Cambridge, UK: Polity.
ISBN: 978-0745664804

All additional required readings can be found in the SFU Library Electronic Journals or through the SFU Library as an electronic resource.

Registrar Notes:

SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://students.sfu.ca/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html