Power, Ideology and Inequality

Subject 121-060 (2009)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2009. Search for this in the current handbook

Credit Points: 12.50
Level: 2 (Undergraduate)
Dates & Locations:

This subject has the following teaching availabilities in 2009:

Semester 1, - Taught on campus.
Pre-teaching Period Start not applicable
Teaching Period not applicable
Assessment Period End not applicable
Last date to Self-Enrol not applicable
Census Date not applicable
Last date to Withdraw without fail not applicable

Timetable can be viewed here. For information about these dates, click here.
Time Commitment: Contact Hours: A 2-hour lecture and 1-hour tutorial per week
Total Time Commitment: 3 contact hours/week, 5.5 additional hours/week. Total of 8.5 hours per week.
Prerequisites: Usually 50 points of first year subjects.
Corequisites: None
Recommended Background Knowledge: None
Non Allowed Subjects: None
Core Participation Requirements:

For the purposes of considering request for Reasonable Adjustments under the Disability Standards for Education (Cwth 2005), and Student Support and Engagement Policy, academic requirements for this subject are articulated in the Subject Overview, Learning Outcomes, Assessment and Generic Skills sections of this entry.

It is University policy to take all reasonable steps to minimise the impact of disability upon academic study, and reasonable adjustments will be made to enhance a student's participation in the University's programs. Students who feel their disability may impact on meeting the requirements of this subject are encouraged to discuss this matter with a Faculty Student Adviser and Student Equity and Disability Support: http://services.unimelb.edu.au/disability


Assoc Prof Mary Christine Patterson


Assoc Prof Mary Patterson


Subject Overview: This subject offers a comparative perspective on the distribution of inequalities in human societies over time and in contemporary cultures. The aim of the subject is to investigate the varied manifestations of interactions between power, ideologies and the material world. This will involve us in discussions of the nature of 'egalitarianism' and 'hierarchy' and the way in which concepts developed by social theorists influence our understanding of indigenous ideas, theories and practice. Issues of gender, knowledge production, and access to scarce resources will be considered in relation to political processes and structures through case studies of caste, gerontocracy, Pacific leadership, divine monarchies and colonial cultures. The interplay between domination and resistance will be discussed in the context of colonial and postcolonial states and globalisation. There is a strong area focus on the Asia-Pacific region.
  • have a thorough understanding of the way in which anthropologists have approached political organisation in non-western societies;
  • have acquired a knowledge of the ethnographic literature on the dynamics of political organisation in societies categorised in the literature as 'egalitarian' and 'hierarchical' in Australia, SE Asia and the Pacific;
  • have critically examined anthropological theories about the distribution of power in societies in relation to issues of colonialism and gender;
  • have an understanding of: issues of gender, knowledge production and access to scarce resources as they relate to political processes and structures;
  • understand the interplay between domination and resistance in the context of colonial and post-colonial states and globalisation.
Assessment: A research essay of 2000 words 50% (due at the end of semester), a tutorial assignment of 500 words 10% (due one week after presentation in week chosen by student) and a take-home examination of 1500 words 40% (due mid-semester).
Prescribed Texts: A subject reader will be available from the University Bookshop at the beginning of semester
Breadth Options:

This subject potentially can be taken as a breadth subject component for the following courses:

You should visit learn more about breadth subjects and read the breadth requirements for your degree, and should discuss your choice with your student adviser, before deciding on your subjects.

Fees Information: Subject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date
Generic Skills:
  • have practice in conducting research and speaking articulately;
  • have practice in writing clearly in a variety of formats and reading with attention to detail;
  • have experience of systematically evaluating a body of empirical data and identifying its theoretical context;
  • have experience of methods of critical inquiry and argument leading to improved analytical skills;
  • have acquired awareness of issues relating to cross-cultural communication.
Related Course(s): Diploma in Arts (Anthropology)
Diploma in Arts (Development Studies)
Diploma in Arts (Sociology)
Related Majors/Minors/Specialisations: Anthropology
Anthropology & Social Theory
Anthropology and Development
Anthropology and Development
Anthropology and Social Theory
Anthropology and Social Theory
Development Studies
Development Studies
Development Studies
Development Studies Major
Sociology Major

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