Sociology and psychology of consumption (2020/2021)

Course code
Name of lecturers
Luca Mori, Debora Viviani
Luca Mori
Number of ECTS credits allocated
Academic sector
Language of instruction
primo semestre (lauree magistrali) dal Oct 5, 2020 al Dec 23, 2020.

Lesson timetable

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Learning outcomes

The course aims to illustrate the social implications of consumer behavior, highlighting its symbolic and relational traits so as to develop a vision of the phenomenon that can integrate and complete the knowledge provided on the topic by the other courses of the CdS. Stressing the relevance and pervasiveness of the different processes of individual socialization, it will be shown how taste is a socially acquired category and how consumption practices, beyond economic capital, find fundamental explanatory variables in cultural and social capital.


The course is divided into two parts. The first one will deal with the social and cultural transformations which gave birth to the consumption society and it will explore the main theoretical frames applied to the consumption behaviors. In this first part the concept of seduction will be also deepened together with its connection to the world of marketing and consumption, highlighting its relevance for the analysis of the so called phase of hyperconsuption (Lipovetsky).

The second part will be entirely dedicated to the work of Pierre Bourdieu, an author nowadays considered as a classic who researched consistently the connections among social classes, life styles and consumption practices.

To fully understand the contents of the course no particular knowledge is needed

First part:
- the historical constitution of consumption society;
- the economic approach to consumption behaviour;
- the limits of rationality and the importance of the symbolic dimension;
- the dominance of capitalism and the resistance practices;
- advertising;
- consumerism and aticonsumerism;
- material culture;
- spare time and cultural consumption;
- urban space and consumption practices;
- digitalization and cultural consumption.
Second part:
- the concept of habitus;
- habitus, social structure and lifestyle;
- class, social distinction and consumption practices.

Reference books
Author Title Publisher Year ISBN Note
Roberta Sassatelli Consumo, cultura e società Il Mulino 2004
Paolo Magaudda Digitalizzazione e consumi culturali in Italia. Mercati, infrastrutture e appropriazione delle tecnologie mediali, in “Polis”, XXVIII (3), pp. 417-438. Il Mulino 2014
Douglas M. Il mondo delle cose Il Mulino 2013 SOLO: introduzione e capitoli I, II, III
Pierre Bourdieu La distinzione. Critica sociale del gusto Il Mulino 1983 Solo pp. 99-231
Gilles Lipovetsky Piacere e colpire il Mulino 2019 SOLO sino a pag 119 più i capitoli 7 e 10
Domenico Secondulfo Sociologia del consumo e della cultura materiale Franco Angeli 2012 SOLO capitoli 1 e 2 e pp. 175-238
Lipovetsky G. Una felicità paradossale Cortina 2007 SOLO: capitoli 1 e 2

Assessment methods and criteria

The final exam will consist of a written test. The candidate will have to answer to 7 open questions in 2 hours of time. Three questions will deal with the topics presented and discussed during the course. The fourth question will try to elicit the critical analysis skills of the candidates. More clearly, the students will be asked to provide a personal reflection on some topics treated during the course (a comparison, a critical comment, an empirical exemplificaton, etc.)

- the degree of comprehension of the discipline;
- the degree of comprehension of the single concepts;
- the capacity of presenting theoretical problems;
- the mastery of the disciplinary lexicon;
- the capacity to connect different topics;
- The capacity to provide powerful empirical exemplification of the theoretical concepts discussed.