Sociology of culture and communication (2020/2021)

Course code
Name of lecturer
Sandro Stanzani
Sandro Stanzani
Number of ECTS credits allocated
Academic sector
Language of instruction
II semestre (Lingue e letterature straniere) dal Feb 15, 2021 al May 29, 2021.

Lesson timetable

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Learning outcomes

The course is oriented to introduce students to the critical knowledge of: 1. the concept of culture and its components in a sociological perspective; 2. the characteristics of main cultural processes in act in contemporary western societies; 3. the role oral and written communication in contemporary cultural processes. At the end of the course the student must demonstrate: 1. to know how to use the concept of culture as defined by contemporary human and social sciences; 2. to have a conceptual repertoire and a specific lexicon to appropriately describe the cultural phenomena of contemporaneity; 3. to be aware of the major cultural processes that are at work in the complex western societies of this beginning of the millennium and in particular to be aware of the distinctive features of the modern culture of the Western societies; 4. to know how to apply general concepts to cultural processes that explain the cultural industry and in particular the industrial production of printed texts.


The course will be divided into three parts, in which the following topics will be developed:

Part I
Sociological introduction to the topics
What is society and what is a social fact? Social Relationship as the Basic Concept and Object of Sociological Knowledge. The different approaches in studying social relationships.

Part II
Culture and Society
1) The concept of culture in social sciences.
A. What is culture (humanistic, anthropological and sociological pe rspectives in comparison);
B. A tool to study cultural processes: the cultural diamond
C. What are the basic elements of culture (meanings, symbols, languages, codes, values, social norms, rites, myths).
D. What are the social functions of culture (relationships among, nature, culture and society, the generalised other and the sub-cutures).
2) Production, Distribution and Reception of Culture.
A. The fields of production of culture (science, law, art, religion, communication).

Part III:
The book in the modernization process:
1) Cultural aspects of societies in mature modernity.
2) Human communication as an instrument for transmitting culture.
3) Orality, writing and mass communication in the modernization process.
4) The cultural industry.

Reference books
Author Title Publisher Year ISBN Note
Ong W. Oralità e scrittura il Mulino 2014 9788815250568 Capitoli 3, 4, 5.
Griswold W. Sociologia della cultura il Mulino 2005 9788815107114
Donati P. Sociologia della relazione (Edizione 1) il Mulino 2013 Capitoli 1, 2, 5.

Assessment methods and criteria

Assessment methods and criteria
The assessment test is aimed at verifying the acquisition of specific concepts and vocabulary enabling the student to independently elaborate an interpretation and a description of the main cultural processes in place in complex western societies. In particular, students will be required to independently analyze the communication processes transmitted by the press.
The examination takes place in person. The remote mode is however guaranteed for all students who will ask for it in the Academic Year 2020/21.

Bibliography for the evaluation:
A. Donati, Sociologia della relazione, Bologna, il Mulino, capitoli 1, 2, 5..
B. Griswold W., Sociologia della cultura, Bologna, Il Mulino.
C. Ong W., Oralità e scrittura, Bologna, Il Mulino (capp. 3,4,5/pagg 77-198).
D. Slides available at the e-learning web page.

Exam modality:
Normally the course requires a final oral assessment (exam) of the contents acquired by the students.
However, at the end of the course, is scheduled a written exam (test of about 32 questions and 4 items per question) on the first two books of the reading list (A e B).
Only students who reach a mark of at least 18/30 pass the test.
The mark obtained is valid till February 2022.
The test takes place only once a year.
The written test is aimed at verifying the acquisition of concepts and the specific vocabulary of the sociology of cultural processes.
Those who pass the written test must support a further oral examination on the remaining part of the program (letter C of bibliography). The second oral assesment (exam) will be held in the ordinary calls of June, July, September 2021 and the months of January and February 2022.
Those who don’t take or pass the first written exam, will present the whole syllabus at the oral exams that take place in the normal sessions.
Those who pass the written test, but do not complete the examination procedure (the oral exam on the second part of the program) before February 2022 must take the exam on the whole syllabus in oral form.