Academic Year 2023/2024

Learning outcomes

The course analyses the genealogy of the relationship power-opinion-public-democracy, which is constituted in political modernity, observing its genesis, its aporias, its theoretical and historical transformations. At the end of the course the student: - is familiar with the political authors who have contributed to the reflection on this relationship; - is able to understand the dialectic it establishes with other concepts of political modernity, such as domination, representation, freedom, both with respect to the crisis and to the new potentialities that the articulation of power-public-opinion-democracy is experiencing in the era of the digital revolution; - is able to apply these categories to the analysis of the present .

Course contents

In the first part of the course, we'll examine the nature, structure and critical role of public opinion and its relation with political and social institutions in the XIXth Century. We'll read also some of the most important political thinkers on the relationship between democracy and public opinion, like Alexis de Tocqueville and John Stuart Mill. Then, we'll analyze the social and political transformations enabled in public opinion by the process of democratization during XXth Century with the help of authors like Tarde, Bentley, Lippmann, Dewey and Hannah Arendt.

During the second part of the course, we'll refer to authors like Adorno and Marcuse, Lazersfeld and Kaplan, Debord, Habermas, Baudrillard, Bourdieu to understand the new political configurations of the public opinion in the age of mass democracy; then, we'll analyse the crisis of public opinion in the age of globalisation, the age of information, the show society age, the post-truth and fake news age, and we'll argue on the possibility for public opinion in contemporary democracies to gain (or not) a new political role (Sunstein, Lévy, Han, Ferraris).


Students attending the course

Please, see the Italian version for the list of books.

Students not attending the course

Not attending students are kindly requested to meet the teacher at least once before the exam to get in touch with the program.

Teaching methods

20 two hours classes (twice a week for 10 weeks).

Assessment methods

Oral examination

Teaching tools

Films, audiovisual tools

Office hours

See the website of Maria Laura Lanzillo


Quality education Gender equality Partnerships for the goals

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