Academic Year 2022/2023

  • Docente: Pina Lalli
  • Credits: 8
  • SSD: SPS/08
  • Language: Italian
  • Moduli: Pina Lalli (Modulo Mod.1) Claudia Capelli (Modulo Mod.2)
  • Teaching Mode: Traditional lectures (Modulo Mod.1) Traditional lectures (Modulo Mod.2)
  • Campus: Bologna
  • Corso: Second cycle degree programme (LM) in Media, Public and Corporate Communication (cod. 5703)

Learning outcomes

Students will learn to analyze the public sphere in a sociological perspective, with a specific focus on the latest developments of the current debate surrounding the concept of public sphere and on the processes of construction of social knowledge of public issues in the context of the contemporary hybrid media landscape, including the role of algorithmic sources and the new global actors.

Course contents

The course is articulated into two different but interconnected modules (the first one - taught by P. Lalli - more theoretical, the second one - taught by C. Capelli - more oriented towards an applicative perspective.  

1. In the first module we will introduce:

1.1. The main aspects of the debate on the spaces where public opinion is formed, starting from the analysis famously elaborated by Jürgen Habermas and recalling the main results of different approaches in media studies.

1.2. The contemporary controversies regarding the relationship between the public sphere and the media, particularly with the advent of what the sociologist John Thompson calls “mediated online interaction”.

1.3. The social construction of public problems: which arenas, which actors, which mechanisms.

2. The second module will “test” the ongoing hypotheses illustrated in the first one, aiming to highlight the empirical problems and the more or less resilient practices that journalistic professional routines employ to navigate the landscape of hybrid contemporary news media.

Among the issues covered by the module are:

2.1. The complex relationship between news, digital media and the public sphere.

2.2. The most recent developments in the debate around the construction of objectivity in journalistic language through a critical approach both to the so-called "fake news" and to the "branded content"

2.3. The main elements of the connection between news and online media, institutions and politics.

Experts and professionals from the field of journalism will be invited in class for a discussion with the students.


1.Habermas, J. (1974), The Public Sphere: An Encyclopedia Article. New German Critique, n.3: 49-55.

2. Amiradakis M. J. (2019)Habermas, mass communication technology and the future of the public sphere. South African Journal of Philosophy, 38:2, 149-165

3. Hilgartner, S., & Bosk, C. L. (1988). The Rise and Fall of Social Problems: A Public Arenas Model. American Journal of Sociology, 94(1): 53–78.

4. McCombs M.E., Shaw D.L., Weaver D.H (2014), New Directions in Agenda setting theory and research. Mass communication and society, 17: 781-802.

5. Van Dijk J., Poelle Y., De Waal M., Platform society. Valori pubblici e società connessa, Milano, Guerini, 2019, capitoli 1-2-3 [ed. or. The Platform Society. Public values in a connective world, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2018]

6. Lalli, P., Capelli, C. (2021), "Young people as “glocal” citizens of the world. News media representations of youth in mainstream and digital native media", in G. Rocha, R. Lalanda, P. de Medeiros (eds.), Juventude(s): Movimentos Globais e Desafios Futuros, Vila Nova de Famalicão, Húmus, 2021, cap. 1 pp. 7-42 .

Teaching methods

Lectures in class, and workshops.

The two parts of the course are integrated also in the lessons and the interactive workshops: a more detailed calendar will be available at the beginning of the course, and it will include the presence of invited experts and professionals.

The participation to the interactive workshops will be proposed and discussed during the first week, in order to establish an educational agreement with the students.

Assessment methods

The exam will be one and the same for the whole course.

Attending students:

1. Participation to at least 80% of classes; active involvement through group work following the indications that will be communicated during the course; group exercises based on a list of subjects that will be distributed during the course.

2. Reports on the subjects addressed during the class exercises.

The final grade will be the result of participation (30%) and the paper (70%).

This option will be available to Erasmus and Overseas exchange students as well, who will be allowed to write their paper in a language of choice among Italian, French, English or Spanish.

Non attending students:

Written "take home" exam consisting of  open-response questions based on the readings listed in the syllabus, but in a perspective of essay questions. Students will have a definite time to write the text, "at home". The aim of the take home exam is to verify not only the correct understanding of the concepts, but also the argumentation capacity. 

Teaching tools

Slides, audiovisual material, discussion with experts, "Virtuale" platform.

Office hours

See the website of Pina Lalli

See the website of Claudia Capelli


Quality education Industry, innovation and infrastructure Partnerships for the goals

This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.