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Greg Nielsen, PhD

Professor, Sociology and Anthropology
Co-Director of the Concordia Centre for Broadcasting Studies (CCBS)


PhD, University of Montreal

Research interests

Greg M. Nielsen is  co-director of the Concordia Centre for Broadcasting and Journalism Studies. He teaches and publishes in the areas of social and cultural theory as well as media sociology. His current project is on  how contemporary journalism is confronted daily with a growing list of citizenship controversies concerned with urban poverty, undocumented migrants and the "reasonable accommodation" of cultural diversity in several large North America cities. 


The Norms of Answerability: Social Theory between Habermas and Bakhtin (Albany: SUNY Press, 2002) 

Le Canada de Radio-Canada: Sociologie critique et dialogisme culturel.
 (Toronto: Éditions GREF, 1994) 

Mediated Society: A Critical Sociology of Media.
 (Don Mills: Oxford, 2011) Co-authored with John Jackson and Yon Hsu 

Acts of Citizenship (London: Zed Books, 2008) Co-editd with Engin Isin 

Revealing Democracy: Religion and Secularism in Liberal Democracy(Brussels: Peter Lang, 2014) Edited with Chantal Maillé and Daniel Salée.

Poverty and journalism: Transformative practices? Special issue of On Journalism/Sur le Journalism. With Viviane Resende,  Laura Pardo, and Fabio Pareira. In Progress.

Teaching activities

Classical Social Theory SOCI 602

Classical Social Theory:1848-1958. Socio 602, Winter 2017.

Classical social theorists from1848 (Marx and Engels, Communist Manifesto) to 1958 (Arendt’s Human Condition) focused on general explanations and understandings of the transition from traditional society (ancient forms of justice and feudal modes of production; toward mechanical-rural forms of solidarity, pastoral and charismatic forms of power) into modern industrial society (capitalist,nation-states, mass liberal democracies, procedural justice, organic forms of I, Me, Generalized Other, urban, bureaucratic forms of power, biopower). Some pleaded for or predicted the end of inequality, religion, patriarchy and racism and the exploitation of workers and each anticipated increase in alienation,reification or anomie, as well as the coming iron cage that technology and science would build. Others intuitively grasped the loss of various forms of sociability and capacity to maintain intimacy but some also grossly miscalculated the liberation of all people through anarchy, revolution or psychoanalysis. Initially theorists described the transformative power of emergent mass media and its capacity to engage citizens in a new public discourse but many soon saw it as silencing mass audiences into complicity and mystification. Many predictions and intuitions of the classics turned out to be true in the most vivid and real sense while in other instances they missed real, constructivist, and subjectivist truth marks by wide margins.

In this year’s seminar we are looking to develop ways to read, write, and talk about these issues from where they are situated and in a way their authors would not only understand us but also see how we have taken them a step further in a way they did not think of (or possibly agree with). Five themes  and accompanying readings will be explored with the view of joining them through concept formation in ways that strengthen a commitment to sociological theorizing:

1) Inclusion and Exclusion: Original Gender Troubles

Badiou, Alain. 2012. Women and Families. Plato's Republic. Polity, 162-182.
Engels, Frederick. "The Origin of the Family, Private Property, and the State." In the Marx Engels Reader.  R. Tuker  (ed.). Norton: pp. 735-751.
Kant, Immanuel. Duties Toward the Body in Respect of Sexual Impulse. Lectures on Ethics. Lewis White Beck., 1963, pp. 162-171.
Hegel, GWF. The Philosophy of Right; Cambridge, 1991, pp. 199-203.
Weber, Marianne. (1912/2003).  Authority and Autonomy in Marriage. Sociological Theory 21.2, pp. 87-95.

2) The One and the Many?  Critical Sociology.

Boltanski, Luc. 2011. The Structure of Critical Theories. Critique: The Sociology of Emancipation. London, Polity, pp. 1-17.
Dubois. W.E B. 1935; The Black Worker, (pp. 3-16)’ the White Worker (pp17-35). Black Reconstruction in America. 1860-1880. Touchstone Books.
Dubois. W.E. (1903) The Soul of Black Folks. Chs. 1 and 2.
Durkheim, Emile. Egoistic and Anomic Suicide, Readings in Social Theory.  James Faganis. (ed.) McGraw Hill. pp.68-80.
Hill-Collins, Patricia and Sima Bilge. 2016. Intersectionality: Keywords. Polity, TBA.
Marx, Karl. (1844) Estranged Labor.
Weber, Max. Economy and Society. Excerp.

3) Phalogocentricism: Marxist Sociology of Diversity? 
Holy Lewis. 2016. The Politics of Everybody: Feminism, Queer Theory, and Marxism at the Intersection. Zed Books.

4) The One: Can justice and social ethics  be universal? 

Arendt, Hannah. 1957. "The Public and the Private Realm." In The Human Condition. pp.22-49
Butler, Judith. 2015. Can One Lead a Good Life in a Bad Life?  In Notes Toward a Performative Theory of Assembly. Cambridge: Harvard; pp. 193-221. 
Derrida, Jacques. (1992) Force of Law: The "Mystical Foundation of Authority." In, Deconstruction and the Possibility of Justice. Drucilla Cornell et als, Routledge,  pp. 3-29.
John Rawls. A Theory of Justice. (229-234) in E.C.R.  and Justice as Fairness in the Liberal Polity. ( pp.53-72.) in Citizen Debates.  Minnesota Press.
Woodruff, Paul. The Ajax Dilemma: Justice, Fairness and Rewards. Oxford Univ Press, 2011

5) Out of Diversity comes the One/Everybody:  Teaching postmetaphysical Sociology?

Caille, Alain and Frederic Vandenberghe. Neo-classical sociology: The prospects of social theory today.  European Journal of Social Theory 2016, Vol. 19(1) 3–20
Guzman, Cinthya and Daniel Silver. 2015. Inverting the Lens. International Sociological Association. The Newsletter of the Research Committee on Sociological Theory,  pp.16-24.
Habermas, Jurgen. 1992. Postmetaphysical Thinking. Boston: MIT. Excerp.


Media Sociology and Journalism 498/2/B Wednesday Fall term 2015. 1:15-3:45.

“ Journalists are trained both to be topical and to write in jargon-free English, and sociologists–even those whose research interests are theory driven–can benefit from the journalists’ focus on topicality. Conversely, journalists could benefit from the sociological expertise in systematic research, even if most will never have the time or the sufficiently sophisticated audience to do much systematic research for their news stories.” Herbert Gans, 2009.

The course invites both sociology and journalism students to participate in developing a critical media sociology that situates journalism in its biographic, institutional and social-historical contexts. In Part I we will study definitions of what news and information is from the point of view of both sociology and professional journalism. In part two we examine competing theoretical approaches including, cultural sociology, field theory, actor network theory, critical theory, deconstruction and the critique of political economy as ways of understanding and explaining the relations between journalism and society. Two main themes for the course this year are the crisis in journalism's "mode of production" and the emergence of a variety of approaches to media sociology that analyze the complex relations that the shift in digital culture implies for contemporary public life.

Required Bibliography On Electronic Reserve

-Alexander, Jeffrey C. (Forthcoming). Introduction: Journalism, Democratic Culture, and Creative Reconstruction. In Jeffrey C. Alexander, Elizabeth Breese, and Maria Luengo, eds., The Crisis of Journalism to Reconsidered: Cultural Power (Cambridge University Press).

-Butler, Judith. (2011) Introduction: Precarious Life, Greivable Life. Frames of War.

-Benson, Rodney. “Challenging the ‘New Descriptivism’ –talk from QualPolComm preconference

-Benson, Rodney. (2014). Chapter One: Strategy follows Structure: A Media Sociology Manifesto. In Media Sociology A Reappraisal. Edited by Silvio Waisbord. Polity,

-Bourdieu, Pierre. (2005). The Political Field, The Social Science Field, and the Journalistic Field. In Rodney Benson & Eric Neveu (eds.), Bourdieu and the Journalistic Field. Cambridge: Polity Press, pp.

-Curran, James. (2005). What Democracy Requires of the Media. The Press. Edited by

Geneva Overholser and Kathleen H. Jamieson. (2005) The Press. New York: Oxford University Press; pp. 120-140.

Electronic copy from Clues. PN4888.P6 P64 2005eb 

-Gans, Herbert J. (2009) A Sociology for Public Sociology: Some Needed Disciplinary Changes for Creating Public Sociology.

-Gasher, Mike. (Forthcoming) Journalists as Content Producers. In Mike Gasher and David Skinner. Mass Communications in Canada. Eighth Edition. Toronto: Oxford University Press.

- Goffman, Alice. Ted Talk: How we're priming some kids for college — and others for prison

-Goodman, Amy in Conversation with Julian Assanage and Slavo Zizek.

in Benedetta Brevini et als. (efds) Beyond Wikileaks: Implications for the Future of Communications Journalism and Society. Palgrave, 2013. pp.254-271.

-Hunter, Andrea. 2014. (1) "Crowdfunding Independent and Freelance Journalism: Negotiating Journalistic Norms of Autonomy and Objectivity." New Media & Society. 

-Jackson, John, Greg Nielsen & Yon Hsu. (2011) Chapter 1. Sources for a Critical Sociology of Media. In Mediated Society: A Critical Sociology of Media. Oxford University Press. pp.3-29.

-Jurkowitz, Mark. (2014) The Growth in Digital Reporting: What it means for Journalism and News Consumers. Pew Research Journalism Project.

-Latour, Bruno. (2007) Reasembling the Social: Introduction to actor network Theory. Oxford University Press, pp. 1-17 and 27-42.

-McQuail, Denis. (2013) What is Journalism? How is it Linked to Society. In Journalism and Society. Sage, pp.1-24.

-Mosco, Vincent. (2014) From the Computer to the Cloud pp. 15-74; Working or not in the Cloud, pp.155-174; Big Data: A Critique of Digital Positivism, pp. 196-205. In To the Cloud: Big Data in a Turbulent World. Palgrave.

-Mulhman, Géraldine. (2010) On Marx, Le Bon, Tarde, Park and Hughes. In Journalism and Democracy. London: Polity. Pp.146-176.

-Nielsen, Greg. (Forthcoming) (1) Critical Theory and Acts of Journalism. In Mike Gasher et als (Eds.). The Crisis in Canadian Journalism. University of Toronto Press.

-Nielsen, Greg and Andrea Mandache.(2014) Acts of Journalism and the Interpretive Contradiction in Liberal Democracy. In Revealing Democracy. Peter Lang. Pp.95-118.

-Page One: Inside the New York Times 2009. Film.

-Powell, Jim. (2007) Deconstruction for Beginners. Pp. 1-31What is deconstruction?

-Primo Alex & Gabriela Zago (2015) Who and What Do Journalism? in Digital Journalism, 3:1, 38-52, DOI: 10.1080/21670811.2014.927987

-Ryfe, David. (2012). Chapter 4. Definitions pp. 114-137 and Ch. 5 The Future pp.138-166. Can Journalism Survive? An Inside Look at American Newsrooms. London: Polity. pp.114-166.

-Schessler, Jennifer. Alice Goffman’s Heralded Book on Crime Is Disputed The New York Times. JUNE 5, 2015.

Research activities

1993-1997 SSHRC Standard Research Grant (PI) CBC/SRC and Canadian Society I

1998-2001 SSHRC Standard Research Grant (PI) CBC/SRC and Canadian Society II

2000-2006 SSHRC Major Collaborative Research Initiatives (CI) The Culture of Cities

2006-07 Fulbright Visiting Research Chair, Dept. of Journalism, New York University

2000-08. The BBC Radio World News Tapping Project. (P.I.) Concordia Donation with Howard Fink

2005-08 SSHRC Workshop Grant. (PI) Mediating Acts of Citizenship

2007-2012 SSHRC Standard Research Grant (PI) Mediating Citizenship

2009-2013 Canada Mental Health Ministry Grant for Projet Chez Soi\At Home.(CI)

2011-2014 SSHRC Standard Research Grant (CI) Mediating Exclusion through Journalism

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