University of Gothenburg

Research disciplines

At the Department of Cultural Sciences, research on culture and cultural expressions is pursued from a variety of perspectives.

The Department houses several aesthetic disciplines, studying different specific forms of expression both from a historical and a contemporary perspective. It also includes disciplines which apply various approaches to the study of broader aspects of human culture, often with an explicit focus on contemporary culture. Here we have gathered the research conducted at the department linked to one or some of our subjects: art history and visual studies, cultural studies, ethnology, film studies, gender studies and musicology. The subjects are listed in alphabetical order.

Art History and Visual Studies

In the Department’s research in Art History and Visual Studies, the interdisciplinary discussion of the image-concept in the Western art tradition occupies a central role. Analysis has particularly come to be focused on the many functions of the mass-produced image in the history of visual culture, as well as on the epistemological role of the instrumental image in science, education, journalism, etc.

Investigations of images for the visually impaired can be mentioned, as well as the study of the deployment of the image in the teaching of history during the 1800s. Furthermore, gender theory and semiotic interpretation models have been tested systematically in a series of studies of female artistry and of the woman as a motif in the visual arts.

Cultural Studies

Cultural Studies is a field of research focusing on the relationship between society, culture and identity. Cultural Studies operate in a borderland between scientific traditions and established academic disciplines.

The boundaries between different subjects that previously appeared self-evident have been problematised by new social conditions. Cultural Studies are a response to the need for theoretical and methodological re-orientation that has emerged as a result of contemporary social and cultural change.

Research at the Department is pursued within four thematic areas: "Transformations of the Urban", "Globalization and Social Movements," "Psychoanalysis and Cultural Theory" and "Culture and Education".


Ethnology is an empirically based cultural-scientific discipline that places man at the center by way of studies of people's values and actions. The discipline has been inspired by various international theories that provide interpretations of contemporary phenomena. In theoretical terms, research interest is also concerned with how the past, the historical, is re-used, interpreted and understood from contemporary contextual points of view. Among other things, this research observes how values and attitudes are translated into cultural-heritage practice.

Ethnological research also pays attention to perspectives of power and conflict and examines how individual cultural expressions are related to local and global social contexts. Current fields of study are concerned with a relatively wide range of topics, spanning from material culture, consumption and memory production to narrativity and non-verbal forms of cultural expression.

Film Studies

Research in Film Studies deals with specifically audio-visual aspects of all media where the moving image is a central communicative component, that is, in addition to traditional studies of the production and reception of cinema and television, also the bulk of all contemporary mediated dissemination of information.

Current research areas at the Department include, for example, the study of digital culture, television history, film music and media production.

Gender Studies

The term Gender Studies can be used as an umbrella term for various types of research on issues of sex and gender, but the mainstream of this research focuses on the power relationship between the sexes in different areas and at different analytical levels, for instance, the social, the cultural or the individual.

Gender Studies includes what was previously called Women's Studies, but also research on men and masculinity as well as queer and gay studies. Studies investigating how gender interacts with, for instance, class, ethnicity and sexuality are also central to Gender Studies.

Research areas at the Department include the development of feminist theory, ethics and ideas, homosexual, queer, and men's studies, as well as research on gender and culture, gender and politics, and gender and violence.


Musicological research at Gothenburg has long had a predominantly sociomusicological focus. Over time, this profile has deepened and widened into an ambition to study music in its cultural and social contexts, using musicological as well as culture-analytical and sociological tools.

Research in this discipline has since the beginning of the 1990s increasingly been focused on studies of music and media, popular music and Swedish 20th-century music history. The rapid changes in the musical field in recent decades have also been incentives for research into music historiography, music aesthetics and the reception of music.