Course Unit Page


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

Quality education Decent work and economic growth Reduced inequalities Peace, justice and strong institutions

Academic Year 2021/2022

Learning outcomes

The course investigates the role played by culture in social relations and in institutional processes as well. In particular, culture is analysed such as one of the main resources developed by social groups, people and Nations, that is as the focus on some crucial geopolitical, economic and religious themes that dominate the international debate. At the end of the course, students are able to know the different perspectives outlined by classic authors about the relationship between society and culture. Moreover, they are able to point out and examine the cultural dynamics that are involved in social processes both nationwide and at an international level.

Course contents

The course examines sociology’s main contributions to our understanding of national and international cultural processes, with particular focus on:



Part 1

(1) Culture and the Positivist Paradigm

(2) Culture and the Critical Paradigm


Part 2

(3) Culture and the Paradigm of Social Action

(4) Culture and the Symbolic Interactionist Paradigm



Part 3

(1) Globalism/Anti-Globalism

(2) Critical Cosmopolitan Theory

(3) Communication, Power and the Social Networking Movements

(4) Cultural Theories of Globalization: Three Paradigms

(5) The Claims of Culture: Equality and Diversity in the Global Era

(6) Universalisms and Cultural Variations



Part 4

1) Cultures and Societies in a Changing World

2) A chosen book


Upon completion of the course, students are expected to: have an analytical and critical understanding of the specific contribution of the main social theorists and schools of thought; be able to identify sociological works and theories that have also had an impact on the study of international relations; have a good understanding of the fundamental problems of social epistemology and ontology (holism vs individualism; materialism vs. cultural autonomy; realism vs. social constructionism; cosmopolitanism vs. communitarianism); know the main interpretations of the relationship between culture, society and politics with particular attention to the cultural processes of globalization and the role of cultural pluralism in the global era.



Since the beginning of the course, on Sociology of Culture «Virtuale» Course students can find uploaded (as pdf files) all texts to be studied in Part 1, 2, 3. Texts in Part 4 can be found in Ruffilli Library (some of them can be found also as e-books).



- Class notes

- G. Ritzer, J. Stepnisky, Classical Sociological Theory, 7th edition, Sage, London, 2018, Chapters attached on the «Virtuale» Course.

- G. Ritzer, H. Stepnisky, Sociologycal Theory, 10th (or 8th or 9th) edition, Sage, London, 2018, Chapter attached on the «Virtuale» Course.

- D. Inglis, A Durkheimian Account of Globalization. The Construction of Global Moral Culture, in «Durkheimian Studies», 17, 2011, pp. 103-120.

- M. Lamont, S. Pedergrass, M.C. Pachucki, Symbolic Boundaries, in International Encyclopedia of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Elsevier, Oxford, 2015, pp. 850-855.

- J. Elster, The Marxist Critique of Ideology, in An Introduction toKarl Marx, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1986, pp. 168-185.

- I. Wallerstein, Culture as Ideological Battleground of the Modern World-System, in «Theory, Culture and Society», 7, 1990, pp. 31-55.

- E. Bonilla-Silva, More than Prejudice: Restatement, Reflections, and New Directions, in «Critical Race Theory, in Sociology of Race and Ethnicity», 2015, vol. 1, 1, pp. 75–89.

- K.K. Cetina, What is a Pipe? Obama and the Sociological Imagination, in «Theory, Culture & Society», 26, 2009, pp. 129-140.



- D. Held, A. McGrew, Globalization / Anti-Globalization. Beyond the Great Divide, Polity Press, Cambridge 2007 (Chapters 1, 8, 10).

- U. Beck, The Cosmopolitan Condition. Why Methodological Nationalism Fails, in «Theory, Culture & Society», 24, 2007, pp. 286-290.

- U. Beck, How Climate Change Might Save the World, in «Development and Society», vol. 43, 2, 2014, pp. 169-183.

- M. Castells, Networks of Outrage and Hope: Social Movements in the Internet Age, Polity Press, 2nd edition 2015, pp. 1-52, 156-217.

- Ku, Agnes S. (2019), Performing Civil Disobedience in Hong Kong, in J. Alexander, D. Palmer, S. Park, and Agnes S. Ku (ed by), The Civil Sphere in East Asia, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2019, pp. 84–103.

- J. Nederveen Pieterse, Globalization & Culture, Rowman & Littlefield, London, 2020 (Chapter 4).

- G. Ritzer, S. Miles, The Changing Nature of Consumption and the Intensification of McDonaldization in the Digital Age, in «Journal of Consumer Culture», 1, 2018, pp. 3-20.

- S. Huntington, The Clash of Civilizations?, in «Foreign Affairs», vol. 72, 3, 1993, pp. 22-49.

- Sh. Benahbib, The Claims of Culture: Equality and Diversity in the Global Era, Princeton University Press, Princeton, 2002 (Ch. 1; Ch. 2).

- G. Crowder, Theories of Multiculturalism, Polity Press, Cambridge, 2013 (Ch. 1).

- J. Alexander (2019), Against the Idea of “Western Modernity”: Axial Foundations and Contemporary Civil Spheres in East Asia, in «ASA Sociology of Culture Newsletter», vol. 32, 1, 2020, pp. 10-13.



- W. Griswold, Cultures and Societies in a Changing World, 4th edition, Sage, London, 2013 (Chapters 1, 2, 3).

A chosen book:

- J.C. Alexander, Trauma: A Social Theory, Polity Press, Cambridge, 2012.

- M. A. Centeno, E. Enriquez, War and Society, Polity, Cambridge, 2016 (http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&scope=site&db=nlebk&db=nlabk&AN=1216074).

- F. Fukuyama, Identity: The Demand for Dignity and the Politics of Resentment, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, New York, 2018.

- Ronald F. Inglehart, Cultural Evolution: People's Motivations are Changing, and Reshaping the World, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2018.

- B. Moffitt, The Global Rise of Populism. Performance, Political Style, and Representation, Stanford, Stanford University Press, 2016.

- Y. Mounk, The People vs. Democracy: Why Our Freedom Is in Danger and How to Save It, Cambridge (MT), Harvard University Press, 2018 (http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&scope=site&db=nlebk&db=nlabk&AN=1680153).

- J. S. Nye, Soft Power: The Means To Success In World Politics, Public Affairs, New York, 2005 + Joseph S. Nye, Soft Power: the Evolution of a Concept, in «Journal of Political Power», v, 2021, pp. 1-13 (https://www.softpowerclub.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/Nye-Soft-power-the-evolution-of-a-concept-1.pdf ).



Teaching methods

The course consists in Lectures (Part 1 and Part 2) and Seminars (Part 3).


Lectures aim to introduce students to the core tenets of the discipline. The Seminars are inspired by the "flipped classroom" model, where students (devided in Group 1 and Group 2) study the assigned texts before class (not after) in order to active participate with presentations/short papers and debates. More information on the organization and calendar of the two groups of seminars will be given at the beginning of the course.


Within the beginning of the course, that will start on the 21st of February 2022, all students are requested to register to Sociology of Culture course on Virtuale.unibo.it This registration is necessary not only to find uploaded pdf texts to study, but also to organize the seminars.


At the beginning of the course NON ATTENDING STUDENTS are requested to write to lorenza.gattamorta@unibo.it

Assessment methods

Examinations for attending students

Attending students have to carry out three mid-term exams. In Part 3, all attending students are requested to active partecipate to the Seminars with presentations/short papers + debates (more information will be given in the first class of the course).


Only those students who have sat and passed all the three mid-term exams and who have actively partecipated to the seminars (with presentations/short papers + debates) may sit the oral final exam that will take place during the Summer or September exam sessions.


Should students not accept the mark of one of the three mid-term exams, they will be able to re-sit this mid-term exam as an in-depth oral exam the same day of the final oral exam. Students who fail in two of the three mid-term exams have to do the exam as non attending students.

Examinations for non-attending students

During the Summer or September exam sessions, non-attending students will carry out an in-depth oral exam on the texts indicated in Part 1, 2, 3 and 4 of the Syllabus. Two weeks before the final exam, they have to send a paper to lorenza.gattamorta@unibo.it on a topic agreed with the Professor and related to Part 3 of the Syllabus (Structure of the paper: Title; Name and Surname of the Candidate; Abstract; 5 Key Words; Premise; 2 Paragraphs; Conclusion; Bibliography; Lenght: 6.000 words, bibliography not included; Chicago Style: Author–Date System, https://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide/citation-guide-2.html#cg-journal ).


NON ATTENDING STUDENTS ARE REQUESTED TO CONTACT lorenza.gattamorta@unibo.it AT THE BEGINNING OF THE COURSE that will start on the 21st of February. They are also requested to register to Sociology of Culture course on «Virtuale.unibo.it».

Teaching tools

Video projector, MS Teams.

Office hours

See the website of Lorenza Gattamorta

See the website of