93192 - Social Stratification And Economic Inequality

Course Unit Page


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

No poverty Quality education Gender equality Reduced inequalities

Academic Year 2021/2022

Learning outcomes

The course aims at introducing students to the most relevant conceptual and theoretical instruments for the study and analysis of social stratification and economic inequalities. The course aims act developing the following competences: General competences (Instrumental, Interpersonal and Systemic): Ability to analyze and synthesize different approaches to the study of inequality; A thorough understanding of basic conceptual framework of inequality research; Familiarity with measurement and methods of examining inequalities and poverty; The ability to conduct research on income and wealth inequality using micro-data; The ability to write well reasoned reflections in English on related topics; The ability to present orally. Specific competences: Ability to evaluate research on inequalities from sociology, demography and economics; Familiarity with state-of the-art research in the field.

Course contents

The course will be organized as it follows: lectures [L] (16 hours) aim to introduce students to the core tenets of the discipline. Practical exercises and seminars [E-S] (12 hours) aim to provide occasions for in-depth discussions of class materials and exercises. For the seminars and practical exercises section of the course, students will be divided in two groups.

Students are required to carefully read the assigned material before the session and - in the case of seminars - active participation through presentations of existing scholarship and case studies will also be expected.

The course will be organized in the following thematic thematic modules:

(i) The philosophical debate on equality/inequality: in this section students will be introduced to some of the classic themes in the philosophical debate on inequality – this introduction will be essential to fully understand the normative implications of the different conceptions of inequality and its measurement. [L]

(ii) Social Class: sociological studies of stratification and inequality often focus not on continuous variables such as income, earnings or wealth – see following section – but on (occupational) social classes. It is important that students get familiar with the concept of social class and the debate about its operationalization and usefulness. [L]

(iii) Mobility: in this section we will introduce the main methodological instruments and concepts to study social mobility, we will also discuss some major perspectives on the study of the intergenerational transmission of social positions. [L]

(iv) The last 6 weeks of the course will be dedicated to exercises and seminars [E-S] during which student will acquire the basic knowledge and skills to study income, earnings and wealth inequalities. In this section we will learn how to do empirical analyses using R and R-studio, and data sets such as SHIW, LIS, SHARE

Students are required to attend *at least* 80% of the classes and deliver all the required take home exercises and essays to qualify as attending students. Active participation is strongly encouraged.

All materials are available on: https://virtuale.unibo.it [students must enroll on the platform]

A detailed syllabus - with all the mandatory readings and the description of the take home exercises and essays - will be available on https://virtuale.unibo.it


All materials will be available on: https://virtuale.unibo.it/

A detailed syllabus - with all the mandatory readings and the description of the take home exercises and essays - will be available on https://virtuale.unibo.it/


Teaching methods

Face-to-face/on line lessons, practical exercises and in-class presentations and discussions.

The course will use the platform virtuale.unibo.it, students are advised to register on the platform

Assessment methods

Students will be asked to write two short essays (2-4 pages max): (i) one discussing specific aspects of the philosophical bases of the study of inequalities and their measurements; (ii) an empirical paper - including R code - providing a descriptive analysis of economic inequality/poverty levels/trends in selected countries. Each of these two papers will account for 15% of the final grade.

An additional 20% of the final grade will be based on the student's presentation of one paper during the course and his/her active participation in class discussions.

The remaining 50% of the final grade will be based on a final, empirical, paper on a topic to be agreed upon (max 3000 words, plus references, tables and graphs). The paper will have to be delivered within 6 weeks after the end of the classes.



not attending students evaluation will be based on a final empirical paper (50%) and an oral exam (50%)
The short empirical paper (including R code) (1) must have a length of maximum 3000 words (plus tables, figures and references) (2) must be on a topic regarding social stratification and inequality, to be agreed *in advance* with the professor together with the data set to be used for the analyses; (3) should be sent via e.mail to the Professor at least one week prior to the exam session.

Oral exam will be based on the compulsory readings (see syllabus and readings in the virtuale platform)

Teaching tools

virtuale.unibo.it // R & R-studio

Office hours

See the website of Marco Albertini

See the website of