From the Classroom: Sociology of Hip Hop

Did you know that FSU offers a sociology course focused on Hip Hop? 

Hip Hop is a subculture that arose from high-minority, low-income neighborhoods in the Bronx, New York, during the 1970s becoming a significant influence in the U.S. and around the world.  The subculture has received attention from the media and the academic community for both bringing awareness to issues of inequality and for reinforcing stereotypes. Indeed, rap music has come under fire for its lyrical content when the subject matter is deemed to deviant or when it glorifies deviant behavior. Yet, few would argue the unique ability that rap music has to speak to social justice and inequality.

Studying culture helps us to recognize an important source of the similarities and differences among people.  The Sociology of Hip Hop Culture course uses a sociological lens to examine the messages expressed within hip hop and explores the relationship between hip hop culture and the broader American society. We explore questions such as:  How does the fact that hip hop has become a commodity, packaged and sold by the music industry, impact the authenticity and content of the music?  What role can rap music play in raising awareness to social inequality and drawing together support for social movements?  How does the labeling of deviance effect members of the hip hop community?  Who benefits from negative labeling or reinforcing negative stereotypes?  How can hip hop help to solve problems in our society?

Since the course began in 2012, FSU has held several symposiums on Hip Hop and Education, a two day “Hip Hop is Life” event focused on health and numerous panels and workshops on Hip Hop and Social Change.  We have hosted film screenings and dozens of guest speakers including Christopher “Play” Martin (Kid n Play), recording artist Dee-1 and Dead End Hip Hop. These events are always open to the University and to the Tallahassee community.  Off campus, we curate music events with the goal of showcasing local musicians, rappers, emcees, djs and break dancers, and to strengthen our sense of community. 

You can join the conversation by following the “Sociology of Hip Hop Culture” on Facebook and on Instagram (@sociologyofhiphop).

Dr. Lisa Munson is a Teaching Faculty member in the Department of Sociology.

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