09660 - Sociology of Culture (O-Z)

Course Unit Page

Academic Year 2018/2019

Learning outcomes

The 'teaching of Sociology of cultural and communication processes has as its mission providing the student with the basic knowledge about the changes in society from the perspective of the changes in values and lifestyles, on the one hand, and social communication manner from the other. It aims to develop the skills concerning the sociological reading of such phenomena, from the axiological and religious to those of socialization and training (including human resources), until the social impact of the mass media and advanced technologies, through interpretive and explanatory schemes coming from sociological research. At the end of the course the student will be able to analyze the processes of emergence and diffusion of values and norms tendencies crosscuttingly all the social processes, from those concerning socialization agencies (family and school) to those affecting the life-worlds of the local community, work, civic participation, the various types of social, economic and political organizations. He'll be able to place the cultural and communicative dimensions in the context of social morphogenesis regarding the various spheres of society. Its repercussions in professional terms relate to the wider world of cultural institutions, particularly those involved in the relationship between the generations, and various job positions in the cultural industry institutions, the mass media, consumption and information.

Course contents

The course aims to give students the ability to analyze "cultural objects". Methodological and critical tools will be provided to interpret, understand and explain different cultural facts.

In particular, three cultural objects will be analyzed. First, the social construction of "Evil", conceived and analyzed as a cultural symbol which steers social actions and embed them in specific social structures and institutions.

Then we will interpret contemporary love (in the West world), conceived as cultural text in the light of social change. Through the sociological work of Eva Illouz, students will learn to analyze what we normally observe as a  highly psychologically "feeling", as a generalized symbol able to increase the probability of accepting improbable communications . We will analyze the symbolic changes over the last two hundred years, to show how love today expresses a dramatic "deflating" trend. The "50 shades of gray" saga is analyzed as a paradoxical semantic solution to the problems of reorientation for contemporary individuals which must work to respond to the simultaneous need of "bond" and "independence".

  Finally we will analyze detective stories (but also fil-and TV-series) conceived, at least in the last thirty years, as indicators of an increasingly complex and opaque contemporary culture that generates expectations of general suspicion and distrust. Detective stories responds to this lack of transparency, creating a world that, just because it can never really be fully understood, externalize the problem of ignorance on scenarios run by dark forces. Paradoxically, this knowledge based on a deep and impracticable ignorance allows a critical enlightenment with respect to the constituted social powers.


1) Jeffrey C. Alexander, La costruzione del male. Dall'Olocausto alll'11 settembre, Bologna, il Mulino, 2006.

2) Eva Illouz, Il nuovo ordine amoroso. Donne, uomini e «Cinquanta sfumature di grigio», Milano-Udine, Mimesis, 2015.

3) Philippe Corcuff, Romanzo poliziesco, filosofia e critica sociale, Milano-Udine, Mimesis.

Teaching methods

Traditional frontal lessons. Power Point slides can be used. In no case the slides will be given to the students. Only the indicated textes are needed for the exam.


Lectures including moments of discussion and comparison with students.

Assessment methods

Excellent valuations are evaluated on the basis of: the ability to deepen and put into connection with each other the main issues addressed in the course; the use of appropriate language with the specific nature of the discipline. It will produce discrete valuations: mnemonic knowledge of contents and partial ability to link the themes covered; the use of appropriate language. It will produce sufficient valuations: a minimal body of knowledge on the topics covered; the use of inappropriate language. It will produce negative valuations: lack of guidance within the themes addressed in the exam readings and training gaps; the use of inappropriate language.

Office hours

See the website of Riccardo Prandini