Course Unit Page

  • Teacher Davide Olori

  • Credits 6

  • SSD SPS/10

  • Teaching Mode Traditional lectures

  • Language English

  • Campus of Bologna

  • Degree Programme Second cycle degree programme (LM) in Architecture and Creative Practices for the City and Landscape (cod. 5809)

  • Teaching resources on Virtuale


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

Reduced inequalities Sustainable cities Responsible consumption and production Climate Action

Academic Year 2021/2022

Learning outcomes

Once completed the course, the student is able to set up and manage participatory planning methods of interventions, extending the application to a wider audience of subjects involved in the implementation and future use, also adopting public/private partnership formulas.

Course contents

The aim of this course is to present students the fundamental themes of the contemporary debate on the inclusion of all urban social actors inside processes of spatial transformation.

By participating in the course activities, students will acquire both theoretical competences on the analysed topics and skills in using empirical analysis methodologies of urban contexts, as well as in management of participatory processes.

There are no necessary prerequisites. However, some basic previous knowledge of urban sociology and human geography may be useful to attend the lessons.


Books and documents for the exam (for student attending the course):

  • Power points from lectures
  • extracts from articles and additional material uploaded on the course website
  • Ngai Ming Yip, Miguel Angel Martínez López, Xiaoyi Sun, Contested Cities and Urban Activism, 2019

In addition, for non-attenders

  • LIN Jan; MELE Christopher, The urban sociology reader. Routledge, 2012.

Optional, but suggested

  • Moini G., Sociologia critica della partecipazione, 2010

Teaching methods


Theoretical lectures

The first module of lectures aims to introduce the basic concepts of urban sociology and social sciences dealing with space. The course provides useful sociological contributions for the interpretation of the relationships between social systems, territory and environment and for a sustainable spatial planning. The second module aims to explore the keywords of the debate on social inclusion in urban studies. In particular, some of the key concepts recurring in the current literature and in the study of urban areas will be analysed and compared. In the third module, the main types of urban processes that stress the categories of inclusion/exclusion, participation/marginalisation, such as gentrification, displacement, ghettoisation, peripheralisation, marginalisation among the many, will be analysed. Particular attention will be paid to understanding the influence of specific dimensions of social differences (ethnic differences, class, religion, gender, sexual orientation, age, disability) on processes and experiences of exclusion and inclusion.


A cycle of seminars is planned with the intention of accompanying the understanding of theoretical passages through the use of case studies and research experiences. Experts and scholars of urban studies will be invited to give an empirical framework to the concepts of inclusion, integration, social cohesion, conflict, marginality, discrimination, expulsion, polarisation, segregation, urban commons good, participation, space and power relations.

in particular:

  • Architecture, policies and politics - evidence from an extraordinary case

  • Mapping Bologna: city, big data and new ways of participation

  • Housing, urban policies and processes of financialisation. Cases from Milan.

  • Right to the city, right to housing. Co-housing, foundations and new public management.

  • Navile district: socio-historical approach to the regeneration process

  • Design for extraordinary times: between planning and temporality. Problems and solutions for designers.

  • Public spaces between formal and informal: the case of Campi Aperti

  • Co-creation, collaboration, urban commons: new tools between grassroots community empowerment and institutional processes.

  • Participation and social innovation in the urban context. Critical perspectives on participatory processes.

Applied laboratory

Students who decide to attend the lessons will be involved in a group exercise, closely related to the architectural design required by the complementary workshop. They will have to apply some fundamental methods for the empirical analysis of social phenomena in the urban space, with particular reference to qualitative methodologies (interviews, focus groups, observation), tools for the analysis of urban processes, techniques for the facilitation of citizens' participation in order to hypothesise trajectories of intervention.

With reference to the area in question, possible guidelines for architectural planning and urban policies will be analysed.

more specifically:

Groups are tasked with developing a strategy for sociological inquiry in the design of a constructive intervention.

They must start with a research question that identifies a social issue to be answered by an architectural intervention or by focusing on critical Urban processes that might be exacerbated by the architectural intervention (for example the construction of a building for high-income in a popular neighborhood). The explanation of the research question and the general framework with respect to the connection with the technical design solutions will be developed in 1/2 slides.

The group must outline a state of the art with respect to the subject matter of the research question. They must delve into the literature and identify the main characteristics of the phenomenon as well as the most significant variables for its quantification and description. In the case above, the group will study social mixité by identifying the most critical aspects and the potentially beneficial aspects of the phenomenon in urban contexts, then identifying which variables the literature defines as fundamental for the study and measurement of phenomena and processes. This aspect will be summarized in 1-2 slides.

The group must investigate the measurement of quantitative variables from secondary databases, i.e. produced by municipalities and statistical institutes. The informations need to be useful in describing the context and characteristics of the process under analysis. In the case used as an example above, the group will measure the proportion of foreigners in the neighborhood, the socio-economic homogeneity of the area, the heterogeneity of the age groups and other characteristics deemed useful. this descriptive work will be represented in 2-3 slides using graphs and maps elaborated by third parties with the need to display at least one graph or map that is the result of an elaboration by the group.

the group must design a strategy for a qualitative investigation using one of the tools made available during the lessons. the group can set up a survey, deepen with semi-structured interviews, can make participant observation using visual tools etcetera etcetera

Two or three slides must display the results of the qualitative research phase, completing the research framework.

The group must then connect the analytical phase with the architectural design proposal, harmonizing the sociological part with the constructive one. It must also hypothesize participatory processes To accompany the socio-technical solutions proposed on the basis of international experience and existing regulations in the metropolitan context of Bologna. This step must be represented in one or two slides.

The total number of 10-15 slides must be presented in the final milestone during the course.

Assessment methods

Criteria, rules and procedures for the exam

The final grade will take into account the overall performance of each student in the following ways:


Attending students are those who have attended at least 70% of the lessons and have been part of an active social work group. Those who consider to be actively interacting with a group by participating in the 3 intermediate milestones and having attended the PSICP course can insert their name in this link. On three random moments before the end of the course the list will be verified: if present at 2/3 of the appointments the status of attending student will be confirmed. Personal cases can be verified during receptions.

  • Periodic exercises (3) to check learning progress and progress of group work.

  • Production of a paper on a topic of your choice addressed during the course (max 12000 characters) (some examples here);

  • Assessment of individual contribution to the course and participation in the group

The paper accounts for 60% of the overall assessment; the exercises and the assessment of personal and group contribution account for 40%.


  • Preliminary examination by cross-check, on the topics of the bibliography covered by the course. It will take place online, with limited time. Those who obtain a 70% pass rate for their answers will be eligible for the exam:

  • Production of a paper (some examples here) with a socio-urban approach on a theme to be chosen among inclusion, exclusion, participation, processes of gentrification, displacement, ghettoisation, peripheralisation, marginalisation with data on the case of Bologna or its metropolitan city. The paper must have a minimum of 30.000 characters (including spaces and bibliography), and the use of quantitative-qualitative data.

Office hours

See the website of Davide Olori