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The Sociology of Creativity

This is the study programme for 2019/2020. It is subject to change.

Creativity and innovation have become buzzwords used in the private and public sector, as well as in academia. But what exactly does creativity mean, and what does it entail? How can it be understood and studied sociologically? What are some of the factors, dynamics, and circumstances that foster or hinder creativity? Is creativity always a good thing, or are there forms that can be largely defined malevolent while representing, for example, a threat to public safety and also democracy? While scholars in the fields of psychology, business and organization have spearheaded this research, an emerging area of sociology argues for a distinct, novel and useful approach to the study of this phenomenon and its ramifications.This course will put you at the forefront of this research area by introducing you to key works and ideas in the sociology of creativity, and provide you with the opportunity to practice doing creative work.

Learning outcome

After having completed the module, the student should have acquired the following learning outcomes, in terms of knowledge, skills and general competencies:
  • Understand theories of creativity as a sociological process.
  • Understand differences and similarities in creative processes across fields.

  • Ability to analyze processes that contribute to the production of creative work
  • Ability to identify characteristics of creative settings and relationships
  • Ability to identify characteristics that hinder creative work.
  • Think more creatively

General competence
  • Learn to apply lessons from the sociology of creativity to both work and recreation in their own lives.


The objective of this course is to introduce undergraduate students to the sociological study of creative advances in a range of fields, including the arts, sciences, industry, and social reform. A creative advance is one that transcends conventional practices in a field and introduces an original solution to a perceived problem. Examples range from a new style of art, music or cooking, a new scientific theory or method of research, or a new way of leveraging social reform in modern society. What social conditions precipitated modern art, contributed to the double helix solution to the biochemistry of genes, or led to the invention of the McTwist in skateboarding?
The course will focus on the social conditions that make such creative advance more likely, including the type of urban environments, the network structures within organizations, and the interaction processes within small groups associated with "Big C" creative advances in a field.

Required prerequisite knowledge



Weight Duration Marks Aid
Hjemmeeksamen1/14 daysA - F
Written school exam at the end of the course in which students will be assessed on their understanding of the course literature. The exam will be closed-book and will include a mix of multiple choice, short answer, and short essay.

Course teacher(s)

Course coordinator
Ugo Corte

Method of work

The course consists of lectures and small-group seminars. Additionally, we will also watch a documentary that speaks to broader issues of creativity.
Coursework requirements: Active participation in the seminars. It is expected that all students will stay abreast of the assigned readings, and to actively and insightfully participate in the discussions. It is essential that the students read the literature prior to each lecture and seminar.

Open to

Sociology - Bachelor's Degree Programme
Political Science - Bachelor's Degree Programme
Admission to Single Courses at the Faculty of Social Sciences
Exchange Students at Faculty of Arts and Education
Exchange programmes at UIS Business School


Readings Sociology of Creativity

Csikszentmihalyi, Mihaly. 1996. Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention. New York: Harper Perennial. (Setting the Stage, pp. 1-50)

Sawyer, Robert Keith. 2012. Explaining Creativity: The Science of Human Innovation. Oxford University Press. (Conceptions of Creativity, pp. 15-34; The Sociology of Creativity, pp. 211-229).

Kidder, Jeffrey L. 2006. “It’s the job that I love”: Bike messengers and Edgework. In: Sociological Forum. p. 31-54.

Farrell, Michael P. 2001. Collaborative Circles: Friendship Dynamics and Creative Work. University of Chicago Press. (Introduction; Collaborative Circles and Creative Work, pp.1-26; The Life Course of a Collaborative Circle: The French Impressionists, pp.27-67).

Parker, John N., and Ed J. Hackett. 2012. “Hot Spots and Hot Moments in Scientific Collaborations and Social Movements.” American Sociological Review 77(1):21–44.

Collins, Randall. 1998. The Sociology of Philosophies: A Global Theory of Intellectual Change. Belknap Press of Harvard University Press. (Coalitions of the mind, pp. 19-53)

Collins, Randall. 2004. Interaction ritual chains. Princeton University Press.
(The Program of Interaction Ritual Theory, pp. 3-9, 16-40, The Mutual-Focus/Emotional-Entrainment Model, pp.47-101)

Collins, Randall. 2015. Napoleon Never Slept: How Great Leaders Leverage Social Energy, E-Book, Maren Ink. (Part I, pp.8-48)

Hooker, Charles, Jeanne Nakamura, and Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. 2014. “The group as mentor.” In The Systems model of Creativity, pp. 207-225. Springer, Dordrecht.

Wagner, Izabela. 2010. Teaching the Art of Playing with Career-coupling Relationships in the Virtuoso World. In Studies in Symbolic Interaction (pp. 147-171). Emerald Group Publishing Limited.

Fine, Gary Alan and Ugo Corte. 2017. Group Pleasures: Collaborative Commitments, Shared Narrative, and the Sociology of Fun. Sociological Theory, 35(1), 64-86.

Csikszentmihalyi, Mihaly. 1996. Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention. New York: Harper Perennial. (Creative Surroundings, pp. 127-147)

Florida, Richard. The Rise of the Creative Class--Revisited: Revised and Expanded. 2014. Basic Books (AZ). (Place Matters, pp. 183-202, Quality of Place, 280-303),

Lee, Jooyoung. Blowin' up: rap dreams in South Central. University of Chicago Press, 2016. (Freestyle, pp. 73-97, The Battle, pp. 99-124)

Wilf, Eitan Y. School for cool: the academic jazz program and the paradox of institutionalized creativity. 2014. University of Chicago Press. (Rituals of Creativity, pp. 115-138, “Now you have to think simple:” Improvisatory Techniques of the Improvising Body, pp. 163 187-97)

Becker, Howard S. 2008. Art Worlds: 25th Anniversary edition, Updated and Expanded, University of California Press. (Art Worlds and Collective Activity, pp. 1-39; Mobilizing Resources, pp.68-92)

Baumann, Shyon. 2007. A Aeneral theory of Artistic Legitimation: How Art Worlds are like Social Movements.” Poetics 35(1): 47-65.

Leschziner, Vanina. 2015. At the Chef's Table: Culinary Creativity in Elite Restaurants. Stanford University Press. (Culinary Styles and Principles of Creation, pp. 123-145)

Fine, Gary Alan. 2003. "Crafting Authenticity: The Validation of Identity in Self-taught Art." Theory and Society 32.2: 153-180.

Fine, Gary Alan. 2018. Talking Art: The Culture of Practice and the Practice of Culture in MFA Education. University of Chicago Press. (Prologue, pp. xix-xvii, The Reason of Pure Critique, 137-162, Disciplined Genius, pp. 220-232)

Fürst, Henrik. 2018. “Making the Discovery: The Creativity of Selecting Fiction Manuscripts from the Slush Pile,” 41(4):513-532.

This is the study programme for 2019/2020. It is subject to change.

Sist oppdatert: 12.11.2019