Society and Social Change

A.Y. 2021/2022
Overall hours
Learning objectives
The general objectives of the course consist of learning the main theoretical and interpretative concepts and paradigms of sociology applied to its most relevant fields of investigation. The specificity of the sociological perspective as scientific knowledge (in terms of theoretical perspectives, methods and techniques of social research) will be clarified. Students will be familiar with the different fields of investigation of the discipline (the economic sphere and the labour market, politics, the territorial dimension of social phenomena, the family, school and religion, the media, and deviance), with its concepts and its main perspectives. The subject of specific change will be the theme of social change, which will be discussed in the light of sociological theories on social systems (bio-psychic, economic and cultural), deepening, in particular, the evolutionary theory of change. The course ends with the illustration of the data that emerged from a research that identifies the main factors that have contributed to modelling the trend of economic inequalities in human societies over a broad historical period of time.
Expected learning outcomes
At the end of the course the students will have understood and acquired the basic vocabulary, the knowledge of the main authors and the prevailing theoretical perspectives of sociology; they should have become capable of distinguishing common sense assumptions from scientific knowledge, and they should have developed autonomous critical and judgment skills with reference to the main dynamics and processes characterizing contemporary societies.
They should be capable to apply independently and creatively the knowledge learned to contemporary social processes as well as to social phenomena of the past. Finally, they will have become familiar with the most relevant datasets produced by the main national and international institutions (Istat, Eurostat, OECD ...) to develop, in the future, autonomous research and study paths in this field.
Course syllabus and organization

Single session

Lesson period
First trimester
If face-to-face teaching is not possible for health reasons, teaching methods and ways of verifying learning will be modified as described below.

Teaching methods
The lessons relating to modules 1 and 3 will take place in the classroom.
The lessons for module 2 will be held through audio-commented Powerpoint presentations and made available on the ARIEL platform. However, students will be able to discuss directly in sync with the teacher through the Zoom platform.

Programme and course materials
The programme and the course materials have not been changed.

Learning verification procedures and assessment criteria
If regulations relating to social distancing will rule out written examination tests in the classroom, oral exams will be held through the Zoom platform.
Course syllabus
The course is structured into three modules
In module 1, Paola Bonizzoni will provide some preliminary notions aimed at clarifying the specificity of the sociological perspective as a form of scientific knowledge (in terms of paradigms, theories, methods, and techniques of social research). Subsequently, students will be introduced to the main fields of investigation of sociology, starting from the analysis of economic phenomena and labour markets. We will illustrate the different sociological approaches to the study of inequality and social stratification (with particular reference to social class and mobility), moving to the sociological study of educational systems. Next, we will discuss other forms of social inequality and diversity, with particular reference to gender and sexuality, race and ethnicity. We will proceed to examine the main social institutions. This includes the study of the family, forms of religious life, politics, bureaucratic organisations and, finally, networks. Next, we will analyse the impact of the (new) media on social interaction and representation, and students will be introduced to the sociology of deviance and crime. Finally, we will reflect on the limits and perspectives of sociology as the study of national societies in the light of supranational integration processes and the emergence of institutions that increasingly extend on a global scale.
In module 2, Simone Sarti reflects on the socio-historical evolution of human societies, discussing the main sociological theories on social change, the social systems and the main properties characterising them. Particular attention will be given to an evolutionary theory of social change by referring to the processes of differentiation, selection and cultural transmission in a socio-historical perspective. Students will be stimulated to a critical reflection on the small and large transformations of human societies, present and past.
In module 3, Paola Bonizzoni will illustrate the data emerging from a study discussing the main factors that have contributed to modelling the trend of economic inequalities in human societies over a broad historical period of time.
Prerequisites for admission
Society and Social Change is a first-year (first-trimester) course: consequently, there are no prerequisites other than those required for access to the bachelor degree course. However, the student must consider that a good level of general knowledge (with particular reference to current affairs and the history of the twentieth century) can be helpful for an adequate understanding of the course content.
Teaching methods
The course entails lectures supported by slides, as well as moments of discussion requiring the students' active participation. Participants will be asked to make substantial efforts to creatively apply the notions and perspectives learned in textbooks to social phenomena described in news items, essays, and quantitative data made available by teachers. Attendance is not mandatory but is strongly recommended.
Teaching Resources
For students attending the course

Ambrosini M., Sciolla L., Sociologia. Mondadori.
Slides (made available by the teacher on the website ARIEL)
News articles published on the magazine «Internazionale» (made available by the teacher on the website ARIEL)
Sarti S., (2018) Evoluzione e complessità sociale (2nd edition), Torino, Utet Università.
Piketty T., (2020), Capitale e Ideologia, La Nave di Teseo (chosen chapters, as specified on the website Ariel).

For students not attending the course

Ambrosini M., Sciolla L., Sociologia. Mondadori.
Sarti S., (2018) Evoluzione e complessità sociale (2nd edition), Torino, Utet Università.
Piketty T., (2020), Capitale e Ideologia, La Nave di Teseo (chosen chapters, as specified on the website Ariel).
Assessment methods and Criteria
Students attending the course will be allowed to take partial written examinations. The final mark is the weighted average of the results of the three tests (first test/module 1: 50%; second and third tests/modules 2 and 3: 50%). The tests include open-ended questions on the contents of the textbooks and the elaboration of contents illustrated in the classroom. The final result will be published on ARIEL. Non-attending students and those attending students who have not achieved sufficient results in the partial tests (or who have refused the result), will take written or oral examination tests.
The tests assess the level of knowledge of the contents illustrated during the course, competence in the use of specialist vocabulary, and quality and clarity of the presentation. Autonomy of judgment is assessed in relation to how much students are able to critically analyse proposed readings and data in light of the concepts and theories discussed in class and in textbooks.
SPS/07 - GENERAL SOCIOLOGY - University credits: 12
Lessons: 80 hours