Comparative Social Systems

A.Y. 2020/2021
Overall hours
Learning objectives
The course aims at:
a. Presenting the main theoretical interpretations that have been proposed to explain the specificity and differentiation factors of modern social systems;
b. Providing the most effective empirical and analytical tools for the systematic comparison of contemporary societies, with applications to both qualitative and quantitative indicators.
Expected learning outcomes
The course gives the opportunity to acquire the following competences:
a. critical understanding of the main transformation trends at country level and regional areas which are relevant in the process of globalization;
b. ability to apply the main tools of comparative analysis of social systems;
c. ability to apply the analytical categories and the tools learned in the course to other national cases, with specific reference to the preparation of the master thesis.
Course syllabus and organization

Single session

Lesson period
First semester
The lessons will be held at the scheduled time (8:30) in telematic synchronous mode with the use of the Microsoft Teams software. The lessons will also be recorded and made available to students, who will be able to use them to repeat the contents and prepare for the exam.
Course syllabus
The course is structured in three parts:
Module 1: the method.
a. Social systems, definitions and mechanisms. Micro and macro approaches: the functions of the social system, the mechanisms of regulation of the social system.
b. The components of a social system: economy, politics, social structure, culture and institutions.
c. The comparison at macro level.
d. The transformation of contemporary social systems and modernization processes.
is. Social systems and the challenge of globalization.

Module 2: Social systems compared over time
a. The historical change of social systems and the specificity of capitalism
b. Why the socialist systems have not survived
c. The historical evolution of capitalism: competitive phase, protectionist-oligopolistic phase, Fordist phase, post-Fordist phase, industrial districts, global capitalism and its weaknesses
d. Why capitalism is constantly evolving and its previous forms have not survived.

Module 3: the comparison of social systems in space
the debate on models of capitalism.
a. Three models of capitalism
b. The effects of globalization on the models of capitalism
c. How to measure globalization and its consequences
d. The responses of nation states to the global crisis and to the pandemic emergency
is. The problem of competition between social systems: convergence or divergence?
Prerequisites for admission
Although the admission interview to the course has ascertained the basic knowledge of general sociology, referable to an introductory course of 6 credits at the undergraduate level, it is helpful to suggest an introductory manual to the course of Comparative Social Systems for students who do not possess the basic knowledge and the language of sociological discipline. An introductory manual to Sociology for undergraduate students, could be Bagnasco, Barbagli, Cavalli, Elementi di Sociologia, Bologna, Il Mulino.
Teaching methods
The teaching activity takes place with lectures, which consist of exposing the topic, its applications and subsequent discussion through voluntary interventions and questions by the students through the use of the Chat function of Microsoft Teams.
Teaching Resources
For attending students: Slides supplied by the teacher.
For non attending students:
Cavalli Martinelli, La società europea, il Mulino
Osterhasmmel Petrsson, Storia della globalizzazione, Il Mulino
Assessment methods and Criteria
The final exam aims to assess the student's preparation with regard to the following aspects of the discipline (with reference to Dublin Descriptors 1 and 2: use of knowledge and comprehension skills): ability to analytically grasp the relevant aspects of a social system, to understand its essential mechanisms, to identify the appropriate conceptual tools and to derive empirically suitable variables for the purposes of a comparative exercise, also in relation to the databases available in open access on the web-sites of the most authoritative international institutions.
For all students, the exam is divided into a written test, based partly on closed-ended questions and partly on open-ended questions. The mark is assigned on the basis of the correct answers on the total number of questions.
Foreign students are granted 10 minutes bonus during the duration of the test, to take into account the greater linguistic difficulties they face in taking the exam.
Attending students are subjected to a test relating to the classroom program and the reference material (slides downloadable from the course website) (30 questions), in addition to four chapters chosen from the Cavalli-Martinelli text (16 questions).
Non-attending students are subjected to a test focused exclusively on the two reference texts (55 questions).
In case of restrictions related to the CoViD-19 infection, the exam will be organized remotely with joint use of the ZOOM platform and the software
SPS/07 - GENERAL SOCIOLOGY - University credits: 9
Lessons: 60 hours
Educational website(s)
Monday 15:00 to 18:00
Department room n. 219 starting on August 31st