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Accreditata MUR con D.M. 02/12/2005
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Comunicazione innovativa, multimediale e digitale, classe L-20

Fundamentals of social sciences


Anno accademico: 2021/2022



Crediti: ECT: 9 CFU

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Researcher in Sociology at the Department of Political and Social Sciences of the Scuola Normale Superiore and the Carlo Azeglio Ciampi Centre for Advanced Studies of the same school, he is a member of the Centre for Research on Social Movements – Cosmos. He holds a PhD in Political and Social Sciences from the European University Institute in Fiesole. He studied at the Faculty of Sociology in Trento (BA, 2009), and obtained a Master of Research in Comparative Social Sciences from the “Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales” and the “Ecole Normale Supérieure” in Paris. He has been a Research Assistant at the “Université de Toulouse 3 – Paul Sabatier” and a Visiting Scholar at the Urban Democracy Lab and the Institute for Public Knowledge in New York. His research topics are Sociological Theories, Sociology of Knowledge and Expertise, Political Sociology and Social Movements, Sociology of the Environment and Sociology of Labour. He is the author of a monograph and several scientific articles for Italian and international journals.



The aim of the course in Fundamentals of Social Sciences is to introduce students to the study and critical and scientific understanding of social phenomena, from the microsociological aspects underlying social interactions, to collective group and organisational phenomena, to the macrosociological dimensions that constitte social structures.

The course is divided into 3 modules and the content is detailed below:


Module 1 – Theory and Fundamental Concepts of the Social Sciences

    • Introduction: The Sociological Imagination.
    • What is social science.
    • Studying the social world.
    • Social interaction.
    • Social structure.


Module 2 – Institutions of Sociology I

    • Culture, media and communication.
    • Power and politics.
    • Markets, organisations and work.
    • Social stratification, inequality and poverty.
    • Racism and immigration.


Module 3 – Institutions of Sociology II

  • Gender and sexuality.
  • Family forms.
  • Sociology of religion and spirituality.
  • Crime, deviance and control.
  • Globalisation.

The main purpose of the course is to provide an introduction to the nature of the social world and to the critical and scientific understanding of its main phenomena and processes. The course is structured in three modules regarding 1) theory and fundamental concepts of the social sciences, 2) institutions I (culture, power, market, social classes, race and migration); 3) institutions II (gender and sexuality, family, religion and spirituality, crime and deviance, globalization).

The course aims to:

  • training students in sociological reasoning, enabling them to understand the logic behind social and political phenomena and to develop critical and theoretical autonomy in relation to them;
  • consolidating specialist knowledge – theoretical and empirical – on the fundamental dimensions of social life through the concepts and terminologies of the social sciences; developing skills in critical reading of a sociological text;
  • letting the students know practical and theoretical tools to achieve a degree of reflexivity adequate to understand their own social conditioning, their own social experience and the social environments marked by different social logics and codes.

A. Theoretical skills: reflection and critical analysis of social processes; limits and possibilities of social theories and their link to empirical analysis; basic concepts of social sciences; analysis of social levels (micro-macro) and perspectives of sociological analysis (structural, interactional); specialist terminology and language related to specific social phenomena.


B. Practical skills: ability to assimilate and critically interpret a sociological text linked to specific case studies; ability to read reports on social and political issues with adequate terminological and methodological competence; ability to develop autonomous and critical reasoning in relation to real social events and processes and current public issues.

A. Mastery of terminology and critical autonomy

Ability to identify the logic and problems of sociological discourses in a variety of fields of application (media, political, scientific ones), to identify implicit languages and theories, to read data related to social phenomena and to be able to contextualise them critically within epistemological frameworks and to assess their public implications autonomously and critically.


B. Communication skills (written and oral)

Possession of a terminological and conceptual background concerning the main theoretical and empirical currents of the social sciences; written and oral communication techniques on social issues including conceptual, numerical and visual levels of analysis together with digital tools.


C. Learning ability

Learning a method of studying, assimilating and selecting information, preparing writings and presentations in a synthetic, analytical and critical form, ability to read different fields of application (scientific, public and media ones); ability to organise knowledge and information according to a specific empirical problem.


  • 9 hours of recorded video lessons available on the platform;
  • 3 synchronous meetings on the platform;
  • Podcasts of all the above-mentioned video lessons.



  • 1 course orientation forum;
  • 3 in-depth thematic forums (1 per module);
  • Possibility to carry out work in groups.
  • 3 structured e-activities (as described in the section in itinere assessment methods”).



Teaching materials are provided for each module: in-depth thematic studies, articles and slides by the lecturer, open access readings, online resources, reference bibliography, etc.

  • Manza, Jeff, Arum, Richard, Haney, Lynne (2018). Progetto Sociologia. Guida all’immaginazione sociologica. Pearson Italy, Milan-Turin (Second Edition).
  • English version: Sociology Project: Introducing the Sociological Imagination. Pearson Education, New York (Second Edition).

Access to the final examination is subject to the following 3 e-activities:

  • Etivity 1 – 1 paper of about 1,000 words – module 1;
  • Etivity 2 – 1 paper of about 1,000 words – module 2;
  • Etivity 3 – 1 paper of about 1,000 words – module 3.

The assessment of learning will take the form of an oral interview on the course contents and on the final report submitted, if any. The grade (min 18, max 30 with possible honours) is determined by the level of performance for each of the following dimensions of the oral interview: mastery of contents, appropriateness of definitions and theoretical references, clarity of argument, command of specialist language.

For specific needs and for clarifications with the lecturer/tutor, students may use English, French or Spanish as well.