93495 - Sociology of Journalism (LM)

Course Unit Page

Academic Year 2020/2021

Learning outcomes

The class offers methods and conceptual tools to understand journalism as an institution and an occupation. The aim is to give students the critical competence to reflexively think at the social and cultural conditions in which the production of news occurs. 

At the end the student is supposed to

- know the main sociological methods useful for studying journalism empirically  and even doing journalism as a kind of social investigation

- know the major professional models and the typical institutional dilemmas of journalism as an historically situated field of practice

- be able to analyze conditions and situations in which the journalistic occupation is exerted in contemporary societies;

- is able to extend the range of her skils through the creative use of concepts, models and methods illustrated in class.

Course contents

- The sociological perspective: methods, concepts, approaches

- the history of sociology and the history of journalism (from Marx to the Chicago School and beyond)

- social research as method of journalistic investigation (techniques and exemplars)

- journalism as an occupation or a profession (criticism of the professional model, with reference to the Italian ordinamento)

- the practices of journalism: an inquiry into the tricks of the journalistic trade (with empirical exercises)

- the journalistic field: what we gain in thinking at journalism through field theory (with applications to the Italian case)


Hallin, Daniel C. e Paolo Mancini, Comparing Media Systems: Three Models of Media and Politics Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 2004, chps 1-5.

Bourdieu, P. On television, New York,The New Press, 1999

*Dickinson, R. (2008), Studying the Sociology of Journalists: The Journalistic Field and the News World. Sociology Compass, 2: 1383-1399.

*Gans HJ. ‘Sociology and Journalism: A Comparative Analysis.’ Contemporary Sociology. 2018;47(1):3-10.

*Zelizer, Barbie (2004), Taking Journalism Seriously: News and the Academy, London: Sage, solo chapter 3 “Sociology and Journalism” pp. 45-80.

*Weber, Max (1998) ‘Preliminary report on a proposed survey for a sociology of the press (1910)’. History of the Human Sciences. 11(2):111-120.

Texts with * are downloadable from the platform of the class


The following is a list of texts for further reading (not compulsory)

Vincent Goulet and Philippe Ponet, « Journalists and Sociologists », Questions de communication [En ligne], 16 | 2009 (English translation online http://journals.openedition.org/questionsdecommunication/8882)

Dickinson, R. (2008), Studying the Sociology of Journalists: The Journalistic Field and the News World. Sociology Compass, 2: 1383-1399

Cottle, Simon 2007. ‘Ethnography and News Production: New(s) Developments in the Field.’ Sociology Compass 1/1 (2007): 1–16.

Willig, Ida, 2012, Newsroom ethnography in a field perspective, Journalism: Theory, Practice & Criticism, 14, 3, 372-387.

Dickinson, R. 2007 ‘Accomplishing Journalism. Towards a Revived Sociology of a Media Occupation.’ Cultural Sociology 1: 189–208

Schudson, M. La scoperta della notizia Storia sociale della stampa americana, Napoli, Liguori 2007 (orig. Discovering the News: A Social History of American Newspapers, New York: Basic Books, 1978.)

Schudson, M. Sociology of News, NY, Norton, 2011 (2 ed.)

Schudson, Michael 2000. ‘The Sociology of News Production Revisited (Again).’ Pp. 175–200 in Mass Media and Society, edited by James Curran and Michael Gurevitch. London: Edward Arnold.

Bourdieu and the Journalistic Field, a cura di di R. Benson e E. Neveu, Cambirdge, Polity 2005.

P. Bourdieu, On television, New York, New Press.

Marchetti D., Ruellan D., 2001, Devenir journalistes. Sociologie de l’entrée dans le monde du travail, Paris, Éd. La Documentation française.

White, David Manning 1950. ‘The Gatekeeper: A Case Study in the Selection of News.’ Journalism Quarterly 27: 383–90.

Molotch, H. and Lester, M. (1974) ‘News as Purposive Behaviour’, American Sociological Review 39(1): 101–12.

Gans, Herbert J. 1979. Deciding What’s News. New York, NY: Pantheon.

Tuchman, Gaye 1978. Making the News: A Study in the Construction of Reality. New York, Free Press.

Tunstall, Jeremy 1971. Journalists at Work. London: Constable.

On Italy:

Mancini, P. (2000) ‘Political Complexity and Alternative Models of Journalism: The Italian Case’, in J. Curran and M.J. Park (eds) De-Westernizing Media Studies, pp. 265–78. London: Routledge.

Teaching methods

Traditional, but according to current measures due to Coronavirus pandemia: teacher in class, students partly in class partly online according to a shift pattern to be defined.


WARNING: due to possible changes in the wider environment this may change as well. Students are solicited to check through institutional channels of communication, especially the web sites of the Department and the Degree Course.

Assessment methods

Oral exam, with the possibility, in exceptional cases and for attending students, to discuss a research paper (min 5,000 words) on a subject/topic previously agreed upon with the teacher

Teaching tools

slides and syllabus

Office hours

See the website of Marco Santoro