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Invitation: Cultural Analysis. A PhD workshop on strategies for developing insights into everyday life

Invitation: Cultural Analysis. A PhD workshop on strategies for developing insights into everyday life

The general aim of the course is to explore some aspects of cultural analysis as a broad methodology particularly suited to develop new and unexpected insights into what is experienced as ordinary or ‘common sense’ contexts and practices.


09.11.2017 kl. 09.00 - 09.11.2017 kl. 16.00


Cultural analysis is closely related to the disciplines of ethnology, anthropology and cultural studies, but also overlapping cultural sociology and communication. The target group for the course includes both students who already work with cultural analysis and ethnographic methods and those who would like to learn more about the possibilities of applying cultural analysis as a way of thinking with data.

Cultural analysis is not a ‘readymade’ method, but rather a form of open, creative reflection, looking for metaphors, associations, ambiguities, developing ‘atypical’ perspectives often by contrasts e.g. familiar versus unfamiliar meanings, comparisons with ‘exotic’ settings or by transferring insights from other fields or arenas. It experiments with methods and diverse materials, using a “bricolage” approach in order to provoke new perspectives on what is often taken for granted or seen as insignificant in everyday life. It is a bottom-up perspective, starting with small details to generate knowledge about major issues. The mundane or the seemingly insignificant may hide strong power structures.

The course has a “hands-on” approach aiming to let the students explore the potential of their ongoing research in order to develop new links between empirical data and analytical ideas, which may generate surprising insights.

Preparation for the PhD workshop

Each participant needs to send a (2-3 pages) pre-reflection paper building on initial ideas of possible cultural interpretations of selected qualitative material (excerpts from interviews or field notes etc should be included) to Ulla Langballe by 27 October.  These pre-reflections will form the basis of group formation as well as being the basis for group discussions during the workshop. After the workshop, participants have the opportunity to submit a ‘post-reflection paper’ (5-10 pages) outlining an outline of elaborate methodological reflections on how cultural analysis can be applied in their PhD thesis (guidelines to the post-reflection paper will be provided during the workshop).

Guidelines to the pre-reflection paper:

  • Give a brief presentation of your research topic and research perspective. What do you think a cultural analysis could contribute to your study? How could “a bricolage approach” of different materials and perspectives develop the analysis? 
  • Pick an example of an event or context that you want to study. Use some of the tools suggested in the readings (for example chapter 1 and 2 in “Exploring everyday life”) to ‘defamiliarize’ or problematize something which might be taken for granted or is hard to grasp (e.g. by using a historical perspective, contrasting it with something else, or focusing on different dimensions like materiality, emotionality or power structures). Think about different paths (and back door entrances) to approach your topic.

Key literature for the workshop

Ehn, B., Lövgren, O. and Wilk, R. (2016) Exploring Everyday Life. Strategies for Ethnography and Cultural Analysis, London: Rowman & Littlefield, pp.1-23, 81-97, 115-127. (

Hohnen, P. 2003) ‘Work versus Trading’, chapter 8, A Market out of Place? Remaking Economic, Social and Symbolic Boundaries in Post-Communist Lithuania, Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 113-128.

Lövgren, O. (2014) ‘The Black Box of Everyday Life: Entanglements of Stuff, Affects and Activities’ Cultural Analysis. An Interdisciplinary Forum on Folklore and Popular Culture, vol 13 ,pp. 77-98.

Sjörslev, I. (2012) “Cash the Equity and Realize Yourself”: an Anthropological Approach to House Values, Housing Theory and Society, 29:4, pp. 383-400.


Associate Professor Pernille Hohnen, AAU

Orvar Löfgren, Professor, AAU


No registration fee for PhD students enrolled in a Danish University. If you are not enrolled in a Danish University you need to pay a fee of 250 DKK. Registration deadline: 27 October. Please register at this link.


  • Notification of cancellation must be in writing by email received by Ulla Langballe before 30 October 2017.    
  • Cancellations received after 30 October 2017 will need to pay a cancellation fee of 300 DKK.
  • Non-arrivals will be non-refundable for any reason.


Participation and preparation for the workshop (reading and pre-reflection paper) 1 ECTS.

Submission of post-reflection paper +1 ECTS.


Culture and Global Studies PhD programme


Kroghstræde 3, room 3.104

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