The EU and the Process of European Integration

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Course Information
Political Science
Terms offered: 
Language of instruction: 
Contact Hours: 


Additional student cost: 



The course focuses on the salient sociological theories, concepts and methodologies in order to analyze Italian contemporary society from a sociological and historical perspective, with particular attention to the city of Milan in comparison with the rest of Europe and the United States.

The course will underline on one hand the great social and cultural transformations and progress that Italian society has accomplished since the End of the Second World War until today. Specifically, the course will feature the main transformations and the characteristics of the Italian and Milanese economy, labor market and model of Welfare regime, comparing them with the rest of Europe and the United States. The course will also focus on the Italian family and its education system, highlighting the way of living of the younger generation of Italians in comparison with the rest of Europe and the United States.

On the other hand, the course will analyze the profound contradictions, conflicts and social inequalities of this complex and multicultural society. In particular, the course will focus on the system of social stratification and social mobility of the Italian society compared to American and European societies, drawing attention to the risk of social exclusion for the more vulnerable part of the Italian population and the process of migration. Finally, the course will focus on conflict and violence inside the Italian family and on the different forms of organized crime.

Attendance policy: 

Regular class attendance is mandatory. Students are expected to attend classes each day.

IES Abroad Milano allows a maximum of two excused absences per semester to be used for emergencies related to health, family, religion. Each further absence will automatically result in a penalty of a half point off (0.5/100) on the final grade. Please note that this rule does not apply to exams: failure to attend your midterm and/or final exam will automatically result in an F grade on that paper/exam. Furthermore, absence on the date of scheduled tests, presentations or quizzes does not entitle to recover/reschedule such tests. If using absences for travel,  students must be aware that they may remain with no excusable absence in case of illness.

Learning outcomes: 

By the end of the course, students will be able to:

  • apply the major sociological perspectives, theories and concepts to the processes of everyday life and to understand our place in society as well as how society influences all of our decisions and actions
  • understand the main sociological concepts and theories in order to analyze different social ambits and institutions such as the economy, the labor market, the family, the Welfare system, sports and multicultural society, migration, health system and health care, quality
  • develop a sociological imagination and critical sociological thinking about Italian and Milanese society in comparison to American society
  • enhance analytical writings through written assignments and paper and improve oral communication skills through class discussion and power point presentations
Method of presentation: 
  • Lectures and discussions
  • Critical analysis of assigned readings
  • Movies
  • Team work
  • Field research trips
  • Students’ oral presentations
Field study: 

Field Studies and Guest Lectures (to be determined):

  • Amipo (Associazione di medicina integrata per la prevenzione dell’obesità) - the Association of Integrated Health Care for the prevention of obesity (Amipo) in Milan.
  • Aimée: a well-known fashion industry doing spouse clothing. A success story driven by an Italian woman
  • Football match at San Siro Stadium
  • Fondazione Palazzo Bondoni Pastorio. Cost-action 1210 - Appearance Matters: Tackling the Physical & Psychosocial Consequences of Dissatisfaction with Appearance. Prof. Silvana Greco coordinates a qualitative research in 6 European countries (researchers of the COST Action 1210 network) on body image and self-presentation at the workplace.
  • Lorella Zanardo: guest lecture of the most influential and well-known consultant on female body image in Italy. She realized a famous protest movie on how the female bodies are treated in the Italian television.
Required work and form of assessment: 
  • Course participation - 10%
  • Midterm Exam - 25%
  • Final Exam - 30%
  • Research Paper - 25%
  • Other - 10%

Course Participation

All students are expected to attend class regularly and to participate actively in order to support the discussion. All students are expected to complete readings assigned before class meets. Students will get much more out of the lectures and discussions that way. Students are responsible for all material covered in class, including assigned readings, power point-assisted lectures, movies, and exercises.

Midterm Exam

The Midterm Exam will take place during Midterm week. Please note that during Midterm week classes will be held regularly at IES Abroad.

Final Exam

A final-term comprehensive exam involving multiple choice, short-answer questions and essay questions will take place during Finals week. You will receive official notice of the exact date and time of the final exam as soon as all possible overlaps have been identified after add/drop deadline.

Research Paper

A paper assignment of 12-15 pages (Times New Roman 12) including references critically discussing one of the books or article on the reading list or analyzing empirical research results. It is personal research that the student conducts throughout the semester on a specific topic that particularly interested him/her. Students can freely choose the topic of their paper (subject to instructors’ approval). The paper is due 1 week before the last day of class. It must be submitted electronically to [email protected]


Participation to field studies and conferences taking place during class time is mandatory. 







  • Lesson 1: Presentation of the course
  • Lesson 2: What is sociology? Major sociological perspectives and concepts in order to analyze the Italian and Milanese society.
  • None
  • Buechler, “What Is Critical about Sociology?”, pp. 318-330. 



  • Lesson 3: The Italian society and Milan after 1945 until today: major political, economic, social and cultural transformations
  • Lesson 4: Democracy and its Welfare State


  • Cooke, Baxter, Families” in International Context: Comparing Institutional Effects Across Western Societies, pp. 516–53       



  • Lesson 5: The dark side of democracy: - the organized crime Mafia type


  • Varese, How Mafias Migrate: The Case of the ‘Ndrangheta, pp. 411-444.



  • Lesson 6: The role of women and organized crime in Italy and Milan
  • Lesson 7: Why do people migrate to Italy and Milan and why do they leave Italy? A complex phenomenon



  • Lesson 8: First generation. Complex identities and live between difficulties and opportunities (successful biographies)  
  • Lesson 9: Second generation of migrants in Italy


  • Minello, Barban, “The educational expectations of children of Immigrants in Italy”, in Annals, AAPPSS, pp. 78-103.



  • Lesson 10: What is religion? Religion and emotions
  • Lesson 11: Catholic Church and other religions in Italy and Milan: Protestants, Jews, Buddhists and Muslims.
  • Kuafmann, Goujon, Skirbekk, The End of Secularization in Europe? A socio-demographic Perspective, pp. 69-91.



  • Lesson 12: Islamic fundamentalism in Italy and terrorism. Are terrorist attacks a threat for Italy and Milan?
  • Lesson 13: Gender issues: Women and Men in Italy and Milan. Their role in the family



  • Lesson 14: Women and men in the workplace: between precariousness and upward employment mobility
  • Lesson 15: Italian women and men with great success in the workplace: social, emotional and psychological factors of success.
  • Molé, Precarious Subjects: Anticipating Neoliberalism in Northern Italy's Workplace, pp. 38-53.
  • European Commission,  Women and men in leadership positions in the European Union 2013, pp. 1-38.


Spring break




  • Lesson 16: Women and men in Italy: body image and mass media
  • Lesson 17: Positiv​e body image and negative body image

    Body: psychological and social consequences in every day life



  • Grogan, Body Image: Understanding Body Dissatisfaction in Men, Women and Children, pp. 136-191.



  • Lesson 18: Social determinants of health
  • Lesson 19: Health and quality of life in Italy and Milan



  • Bambra, Gibson. Sowden, Wright, Whitehead, Petticrew, Tackling the wider social determinants of health and health inequalities: evidence from  systematic reviews, pp. 284-291.



  • Lesson 20: Food and eating disorder in Italy and Milan
  • Lesson 21: What is Sport from a sociological perspective?



  • Echstein, Moss, Delaney, Sports Sociology’s Still Untapped Potential, pp. 500-518.


  • Lesson 22: Football in Italy and Milan
  • Anderson, I Used to Think Women Were Weak": Orthodox Masculinity, Gender Segregation, and Sport,  pp. 257-280.


Required readings: 
  • Anderson, Eric "I Used to Think Women Were Weak": Orthodox Masculinity, Gender Segregation, and Sport”, Sociological Forum, Vol. 23, No. 2 (Jun., 2008), pp. 257-280.
  • Bambra, Clare; Gibson Marcia; Sowden, Amanda; Wright Kath; Whitehead, Maragaret and Mark Petticrew, “Tackling the wider social determinants of health and health inequalities: evidence from systematic reviews”, in Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health (1979-), Vol. 64, No. 4 (April 2010), pp. 284-291.
  • Buechler, Steven, “What Is Critical about Sociology?”, in Teaching Sociology, Vol. 36, No. 4 (Oct. 2008), pp. 318-330. 
  • Cooke, Lynn Prince and Janeen Baxter “Families” in International Context: Comparing Institutional Effects Across Western Societies”, in Journal of Marriage and Family, Vol. 72, No.  3 (June 2010), pp. , 516–536.                  
  • Eckstein, Rick, Moss Dana M. and Kevin J. Delaney, “Sports Sociology's Still Untapped Potential”, in Sociological Forum, Vol. 25, No. 3 (September 2010), pp. 500-518.
  • European Commission, Women and men in leadership positions in the European Union 2013, European Union, Brussels, 2013.
  • Kaufmann, Eiric  Goujon, Anne and Vegard Skirbekk, “The End of Secularization in Europe?: A Socio-Demographic Perspective” in Sociology of Religion, Vol. 73, No. 1 (Spring 2012), pp. 69-91.
  • Grogan, Susan. Body Image: Understanding Body Dissatisfaction in Men, Women and Children. New York (2nd ed.): Routledge, 2008. Chapter 6, pp. 137-191
  • Minello, Alessandra and Nicola Barban, “The educational expectations of children of Immigrants in Italy”, in Annals, AAPPSS, No. 643 (September 2012), pp. 78-103.
  • Molé J. N., “Precarious Subjects: Anticipating Neoliberalism in Northern Italy's Workplace”, in American Anthropologist, Vol. 112, No. 1 (Mar. 2010), pp. 38-53.
  • Varese, Federico (2006), “How Mafias Migrate: The Case of the 'Ndrangheta in Northern Italy”, in Law & Society Review, Vol. 40, No. 2 (June, 2006), pp. 411-444.