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First Semester 
Teaching style
Lingua Insegnamento

Informazioni aggiuntive

Course Curriculum CFU Length(h)


By the end of the course the students will be able to:
Identify the sources of risk in contemporary society;
Recognise ‘new’ risks vs ‘old’ risks;
Discuss different theories addressing risk and uncertainty;
Identify the research contexts in which addressing risk and uncertainty is potentially valuable and effective;
Recognise consequences of risk and uncertainty for agency;
Distinguish differences of risk and uncertainty at the micro, meso and macro level.


Solid preparation in general sociology and generic knowledge of the current social-political scenario


Contemporary social theory and contemporary sociology have traditionally confronted with increasing uncertainty at the systemic level, and consequently, on ways of copying with this uncertainty at the individual level. An event such as the Chernobyl disaster in 1986 foregrounds a strand of study which poses at the centre the coming of the so-called ‘risk society’.

In the wake of current and very recent events such as a global pandemic, emerging political radicalization, and the weakening of the unity of one of the most important supranational institution (namely, the EU after Brexit), preoccupations on risk and uncertainty are more up-to-date than ever.

The course will explore some of the key sociological contributes on societal risk and uncertainty (looking in particular at the work of theorists Ulrich Beck, Anthony Giddens, Zygmunt Baumann, Michel Foucault and Niklas Luhmann) with the specific aim to equip the students with tools to decodify and deconstruct the discourses underneath such issues. The course will cover both the micro, the meso and the macro level, being aimed at discussing ways that seem in place, at the present days, to counteract (or adapt, or cope with) risk and uncertainty.

Particular attention will be given to what difference it makes to belong to a generation rather than another to develop forms of agency.

Teaching Methods

Lectures (approximately 60 % of total hours) will deal with central texts in the area covered by the course programme and will suggest directions for further work on behalf of the students. The course will then involve students’ groupwork on selected case studies (approximately 40% of the total) in the forms of delivering presentations, practical exercise ect.
There are 27 lectures lasting two hours each.
The introduction of online tools will ensure an inclusive attendance

Verification of learning

The evaluation will be based on a presentation (50% of the total grade) and a written elaboration of the topic of the presentation (remaining 50%).
Students who cannot attend will be evaluated on a written text, in the form of an essay, on a topic to be agreed with the professor.

18 to 22: Indicate an elementary acquisition or basic knowledge of contents and methods. The student shows modest capacity of analysis and synthesis.
23 to 26: Indicate an average acquisition of knowledge of contents and methods. Capacity of analysis and synthesis are sufficient.
27 to 30: Indicate from a good to very good acquisition of knowledge of contents and methods. The student shows good or excellent analytical skills and a very good ability to synthesize


The texts which are central for each author taken into considerations are:

Ulrich Beck, Risk Society. Towards a new modernity. Londra, Sage, 1992 (original edition in German 1986).
Zygmunt Baumann, The Individualized Society. Cambridge, Polity Press, 2001.
Anthony Giddens, Modernity and Self Identity. Self and Society in late modern age. Cambridge, Polity Press, 1991.
Michel Foucault, Discipline and punish. The birth of the prison. (original edition in French 1976)
Niklas Luhmann, Risk: A sociological Theory. Routledge, 2001 (original edition 1991)

All these texts are commonly available in Italian translation, as well as in the original French (Foucault) and German (Luhmann). Students can choose to read in the language they prefer.

Furter material for discussion and will be distributed during the course and made available online.

More Information

By appointment, to be agreed by email, at the professor’s office (address: Via Sant’Ignazio 78 –First floor) or via Teams.
Students will be given ppt material after each lecture. This material will contain links to complement the texts above.

Questionnaire and social

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