04876 - Urban Sociology

Course Unit Page

Academic Year 2017/2018

Learning outcomes

At the end of the course, the student will: - have a framework of the conceptual joints of urban sociology in its historical evolution, - be able to analyze the schools of thought and the basic concepts that have been proposed and developed in theory - be able to apply the main paradigms for the understanding of emerging issues from the discipline, - know and be able to apply the main methods and techniques of empirical research for their study of urban and territorial phenomena.

Course contents

The course is divided into three modules:

First module:

In particular, attention will be paid to the historical development of the discipline in the United States and Europe, to the problems of methodology and research, to urbanism "as a way of life" and its evolutionary phases. In this path we will refer mainly to E. Durkheim, M. Halbwachs, G. Simmel, L. Wirth, J. Jacobs, in order to deepen the relationship between man and environment in urban areas.

Second module:

In the second module of the course, the theme of the birth and development of urban sociology in the United States will be studied, with particular reference to the Chicago Ecological School tradition. An empirical study of territory focused on the theme of urban poverty and social capital will be presented. The research takes up and uses a Chicago approach to the study of urban phenomena by integrating it with the contribution of narrative theory and using a mixed method research approach


Applied urban sociology laboratory:

Specific Laboratory goals - provide students with the knowledge and tools for analyzing and processing social phenomena related to the city. Contextually to the theoretical course developed during the frontal lesson, the laboratory aims to show concrete application of a sociological study in the urban context.

At the same time, the lab is intended to provide students with the necessary resources in order to address scientifically based sociological work, driving them in a first collective research.

Description of the training course - The topic selected for the group work is "Places and the Networks of Migrant Business", to be developed in a comparative perspective between two/three areas of the city of Bologna.

6-7 students groups, according to the needs of the class, will lead the research through the construction and solution of the following phases:

Research question: the group seeks an effective sociological question that can give meaning and credibility to the project, making the research purpose clear.

Quantitative Methodology: through a first quantitative survey carried out on statistical databases, the group describes the relevant aspects of the migrant population that insists on the area. (Data collection and statistical analysis software)

Mapping: through digital or manual techniques, results of the ethnographic observation are returned in order to map the migrant business locations in the area.

Qualitative Methodology: interviews, observations, and field notes allow researchers to design and describe the network of clients, and users of migrant business places.

Processing: research results are transcribed in scientific form by submitting a draft paper that will be evaluated for examination purposes.

Final presentation: a final presentation of all research projects and their results allows a comparative reading of the phenomenon and returns the final meaning of the work.



G. Simmel, La metropoli e la vita dello spirito, Armando, Roma, 1996

L. Wirth, L’urbanesimo come modo di vita, Armando, Roma, 1998

G. Nuvolati (a cura di), Lezioni di sociologia urbana, Il Mulino, Bologna, 2011 (solo pp. 9 – 30 e pp. 125 - 148)

U. Hannerz, Esploare la città, Il Mulino, Bologna, 2001 (solo pp. 93 - 172)

M. L. Small, Villa Victoria. Povertà e capitale sociale in un quartiere di Boston, FrancoAngeli, Milano, 2011

M. Bergamaschi, M. Castrignanò (a cura di), La città contesa, FrancoAngeli, Milano, 2014

Teaching methods

frontal lessons

Assessment methods

A final oral exam that consists in a conversation about the texts previously indicated. The oral test want to assess the learning of methodology of social research and technique contents discussed during the course. Appropriate language with the specific nature of the discipline, and the ability to deepen and put into connection with each other the main issues addressed in the course will result in assessments of excellence. Correct language, mnemonic knowledge of contents and partial ability to link the themes covered will produce discrete valuations. Inappropriate language, the presence of some training gaps but achieving a minimal body of knowledge on the topics covered will result in assessments sufficient. Lack of guidance within the themes addressed in the exam readings, inappropriate language, and training gaps will result in negative evaluations.

Teaching tools

Slides presentation

Office hours

See the website of Marco Castrignanò

See the website of Maurizio Bergamaschi