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Second 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 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 Bauman, 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 by the five authors mentioned in previous section 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.

Verification of learning

The evaluation will be based:
For students who attend lectures:
on a presentation (70% of the total grade) to be given within the course, as a laboratorial exercise, in the last weeks of the course and according to a calendar which will be defined by the first week of lectures, according to how many students attend. The other 30% of the evaluation is determined by the material provided in a ppt form which accompanies the presentation but that can be submitted in the final form on the day of the exam.

All structural requisites for both the presentation and the ppt will be presented ta the beginning of the course (for instance, they must contain three questions to be posed to the class).
Students who will not attend the course or who prefer to do so, will write a 7000 word long essay on a theme which they will decide in agreement with the professor. They will be evaluated entirely (100%) on this. This essay will be handled in by the date of the exam.
The structure of both the presentation and the essay is such that one out of the five discussed authors is chosen, and his work used to illustrate a case study on the themes of the course (this case study is proposed by the student and 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.

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

More Information

Office hour 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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