Foto sezione
Logo Bocconi

Course 2019-2020 a.y.


All Programs
Department of Social and Political Sciences

Course taught in English

Go to class group/s: 13 - 23

BESS-CLES (7 credits - II sem. - OB  |  SPS/07)

Classes: 13 (II sem.)

Class-group lessons delivered  on campus

Suggested background knowledge

There are no prerequisites. This is an introductory course.

Mission & Content Summary

The purpose of this course is to expose students to the prevailing theories, methods, and research issues of contemporary sociology. The course links key research issues and debates in sociology with research methods and analytic strategies so that students can understand how a sociological perspective contributes to our ability to understand and explain both the macro- and micro-aspects of societies and social organization.


Key Concepts:

  • Status, Authority, Community.
  • Socialization, Family and Kinship.
  • Groups and Networks.

Inequality and Mobility:

  • Poverty and Inequality.
  • Health in Comparative Perspective.
  • Social Stratification and Social Mobility.
  • Global Stratification and Population Studies.

The Sociology of Economic Life:

  • The Sociology of Markets and Firms.
  • Sociological Approaches to Capitalism.

The State and Globalization:

  • The State and its Critics.
  • Welfare States in Comparative Perspective.
  • Globalization and Challenges to the State.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILO)
At the end of the course student will be able to...
  • Think sociologically about world phenomena.
  • Differentiate sociological thinking from other discourses.
  • Use conceptual tools from sociology to explain social dynamics.
At the end of the course student will be able to...
  • Apply sociological reasoning and sociological tools so that they can formulate broader or fuller explanations for social phenomena, compared to those offered by other social science discourses.
  • Interpret data in ways that problematize overly simply solutions and generate strong explanatory frameworks.

Teaching methods
  • Face-to-face lectures
  • Individual assignments

Students may elect to write a short paper as an individual assignment (see Assessment Methods).

Assessment methods
  Continuous assessment Partial exams General exam
  • Written individual exam (traditional/online)
  •   x  
  • Individual assignment (report, exercise, presentation, project work etc.)
  •   x  
    • Two partial exams (50% each). Each partial exam consists of short-answer and open-ended questions aimed to assess students’ ability to apply the analytical tools illustrated during the course, to develop sociological explanations of different phenomena, and to interpret major social changes in a rigorous and complete way. In addition, it includes multiple choice questions that test students' factual knowledge of major theories or social issues. More specifically, each partial exam includes three types of questions:
      • Multiple choice questions.
      • 1 short-answer question (out of 2 options).
      • 1 essay-style question (out of 2 options).
    • The first partial exam covers the material of the first half of the course, and the second covers the material of the second half.
    • Optional: Short paper. Students may elect to write a short paper that showcases the application of sociological methods to the understanding of social phenomena. This paper should be 1,000-1,250 words (plus references) on one of the questions provided in the syllabus and on blackboard. An excellent paper adds 2 points to the final mark, a good paper adds 1 point, and poor papers not alters the final mark. This paper should go beyond mandatory readings, and provide evidence of some familiarity with the additional readings suggested in the syllabus and/or bring in relevant material beyond the syllabus. All material should be properly cited using academic conventions, and failure to do so is penalized.
    • Topics and deadlines are stated on Bboard; no deadline extensions is granted. Student name and number should be clearly stated on the front page of the assignment. All papers to be submitted via Bboard.
    • Final written exam (100%). The final exam includes two types of questions:
      • 4 short-answer questions (out of 5 options).
      • 2 essay-style questions (out of 3 options).
    • The questions covers all topics of the course. Please see set readings (essential readings with a star) and material covered in the lectures.

    Teaching materials

    Students are provided with a selection of readings on the course Bboard site.

    Last change 03/06/2019 10:49

    BIG (7 credits - I sem. - OB  |  SPS/07)
    Course Director:

    Classes: 23 (I sem.)

    Class-group lessons delivered  on campus

    Mission & Content Summary

    This course is designed to be a broad introduction to the field of sociology. Students encounter some of the most influential theories developed, imagined and used by sociologists to make sense of the social world. We discuss and acquire familiarity with the concepts sociologists typically use in their work, and with some of the core methods sociologists employ to investigate the social world. For instance, students gain an understanding of what sociologists mean when they talk about culture, socialization and social structure, and how sociologists analyse these concepts linking theory and empirical analyses. The course also encourages students to think critically (i.e. as a social scientist, about human life and societies and develop their own questions about social life). Finally, the course pays particular attention to the broad themes of inequality as it pertains to race, class and gender, the digital revolution and the social changes it brought about, and family changes, by adopting a life course perspective.


    First part

    • What is Sociology?
    • Sociological perspectives.
    • Asking and answering sociological questions.
    • Research methods.
    • Social norms.
    • Socialization and social interactions.
    • Crime and Deviance
    • Gender and sexuality.
    • Globalization.
    • Environment.
    • Cities and urban life.

    Second part:

    • Work and The Economy.
    • The life course.
    • Families.
    • Health.
    • Stratification and social class.
    • Poverty.
    • Global inequality.
    • Race and ethnicity.
    • Religion.
    • Education.
    • Digital revolution.

    Intended Learning Outcomes (ILO)
    At the end of the course student will be able to...
    • Autonomously and critically search, and understand, sociological research on a wide range of topics, with diverse methodological approaches, linking this research to wider knowledge across the spectrum of social sciences.
    At the end of the course student will be able to...
    • Cast sociological explanatory hypotheses on a wide range of social phenomena, in particular concerning policy-relevant issues, and to sketch research designs useful to test such hypotheses.

    Teaching methods
    • Face-to-face lectures
    • Exercises (exercises, database, software etc.)
    • Interactive class activities (role playing, business game, simulation, online forum, instant polls)
    • Exercises: there is one class as lab-session in which we are analyzing the European Social Survey dataset using the software STATA and applying some basic statistical tools.
    • Interactive class activities: in almost every lecture there are interactive class activties, such as role playing, puzzles to be solved in group, designing online surveys.

    Assessment methods
      Continuous assessment Partial exams General exam
  • Written individual exam (traditional/online)
  •   x x
  • Group assignment (report, exercise, presentation, project work etc.)
  •   x x

    Students can choose between two options:

    1. A written exam or two partial exams (each with a 2/5 weight towards the overall grade), plus a short paper, written individually or together with another student (with a 1/5 weight towards the overall grade).
    2. A written exam, either taken through two partial exams (each with a 1/2 weight towards the overall grade) or one general exam (with a 100% weight towards the overall grade).
    • Exams: written exams includes both short answers and essay-style questions. The questions cover theory, and interpretation of the results of applied research. The exam cover all topics of the course. Material covered in the lectures, in the text book and other set readings may be included in the exam.
    • Project (optional): the project may be conducted by students working alone or in couple. It is worth 1/5 of your grade. Students working in couple receive the same grade. The grade you obtain in the project is valid for one-year cycle. The maximum length of the project is 1,500 words. You are required to design a sociological research project that can be carried out in two alternative ways:
      • Applied project: by using secondary data (Europena Social Survey dataset), statistical analyses, interpreting the results and drawing independent conclusions based on sociological theory and hypotheses.
      • Critical review project: by making a review of the literature on a specific topic; comparing results from two papers that adopt different theoretical approaches, and/or methods, and/or study different populations (e.g. countries); highlighting similarities and/or differences; drawing independent conclusions.

    Teaching materials
    • Book: A. GIDDENS, P.W. SUTTON, Sociology,  Polity, 8th Edition.
    • Readings: a set of readings and lecture slides are available on Bboard.
    Last change 03/06/2019 11:01