Loyola University Chicago

John Felice Rome Center

SOCL 267 Italy Today

Fall 2015



Period: Fall Semester 2015                               Professor: Sarah F. Maclaren Ph.D

Lessons: Monday                                             E-mail: smaclar@luc.edu; sar.maclaren@gmail.com

Time: 9.30 a.m.-12.00 p.m.                              Office hours: Monday: 12.45-1.45 - by appointment

Class: 121


Course Purpose

We will study Italy from a sociological, cultural, political and anthropological viewpoint, in order to gain an overview of a country which has been a nation for just over one hundred years, marks considerable regional disparities, and has undergone great social and cultural changes since the end of World War II. The course is divided into two parts. We will begin by studying the dramatic social, political, economic and cultural transformations which turned Italy into one of world's leading industrial democracies, starting from the post-war reconstruction, the industrialization, the economic miracle of the 1950s and 1960s, and the great internal migration, to the social movements from 1968 to 1980, to the formation of a post-industrial society. We will see how Italy has achieved a high cultural profile and a level of material prosperity that have generated a post-modern, mass consumer and globalized society. Then, adopting an interdisciplinary focus, we will examine diverse sociological and cultural aspects of contemporary Italy such as Catholicism, gender identities, the role of the family, emigration and immigration, stereotypes and regional identities, media and material culture, etc. We will also focus on how Italy is changing today in the modern and globalized world and how the challenges are impacting Italian society.

As a result, I hope you will better understand, enjoy and contribute to Italian society.

This course is open to undergraduates from any major. It is an elective for non-sociology majors and is one of several options to fulfill the required number of sociology courses for majors. Sociology majors need to earn a “C-” or better for this course to count toward the department’s requirements for graduation.


Learning Outcomes:

Knowledge Area (Social and Cultural Knowledge):


1. Students will be able to demonstrate understanding of the transformation of Italy’s social, cultural and anthropological behaviors from the post-war period to today.

2. Students will be able to demonstrate understanding that Italian values and behavior, lifestyles and consumption patterns were influenced by specific social factors and have changed substantially over the last 60 years

3. Students will demonstrate an understanding of differences of class, gender, and race relations in Italy.

4. Students will be able to demonstrate understanding that specific social and cultural traits, such as religion, family, gender, regionalism, stereotypes are influenced by context, culture and time.

5. Demonstrate an understanding of how the Italian individual self concepts stems from the familial, social, and cultural contexts in which Italians develop.


Course Overview and Goals

This course emphasizes the Italian experience, but also includes international comparisons and global perspectives. You will learn to think critically about contemporary Italian society and the transformation of values, behavior, gender relationships and lifestyles. You will learn to analyze Italy's specific cultural traits from the context and time in which they developed. You will learn to think critically about issues such as stereotypes, regional identities, and diversity in the global world.

We will study each topic descriptively and from a range of theoretical orientations. We will also learn from guest speakers – when feasible -, movies, and case studies.


In this course, I want students to:

Master some fundamental theories and facts about contemporary Italy.

Enjoy the Italian and Roman experience.

Learn about Italian contemporary society.

Explore one topic in depth.


Course Requirements

Students will complete the assigned readings and participate in class discussions and activities. The assigned reading materials should be read before (not only after) the lessons as the grade on class participation depends on demonstrating that the texts have been studied and the discussions on the topics dealt with are highly encouraged and are an integral part of the course


Discussion Leaders

Two students will lead the discussion each week. Each student will sign up to be discussion leader for at least two class periods. This means that these two people will be primarily responsible for facilitating the actual class discussion for that particular week using the questions set for the lessons.


Midterm exam:

The midterm exam will include selected questions based on the assigned readings and topics covered in the first part of the course.



Each student will write review on a book, a film or a documentary. Each student will select a topic of interest related to aspects of Italian contemporary society. This provides an opportunity to either explore a subject from the course in more depth, or to pursue material not otherwise covered in the course. The review will be 6,000 characters long. Deadline: .


Research project:

The students are required to write a critical essay. This is NOT an opinion paper. Your paper must be supported by theory and/or substantive research that has been considered in class. The essay will be 10,000 characters long (including spaces, footnotes and bibliography) Deadline: .


Final exam:

The final exam will include questions based on the readings and discussions covered in the second part of the course.


Grade grading:

The final grade will be calculated as follows:

Attendance, assigned readings, class participation                                                          20%

Discussion leader                                                                                                          10%

Midterm                                                                                                                       20%

Research Project                                                                                                          20%

Review                                                                                                             10%

Final examination                                                                                                          20%




Grading scale:

93 – 100% A;              90 – 92% A-;               87 – 89% B+;              83 – 86% B

80 – 82% B-;               77 – 79% C+;              73 – 76% C;                70 – 72% C-

67 – 69% D+;              63 – 66% D;                0 - 62 % F


Attendance and Deadlines Policy

Students are highly recommended to attend the lessons regularly, as the course does not only address theoretical issues but also the social and cultural experience of living and learning about Italy. The success of this course depends on interaction among all the members of the class. Given, however, that fact that we meet twice a week, no more than TWO unexcused absences are permitted. Each additional absence will incur a 5% lowering of participation grade. If the student is ill and notifies the dean and me, that, of course, is an excused absence.


Students must take the examinations and tests when they are set, because make up sessions will not be given, except for very serious reasons and authorized by the Academic Dean.


Cheating or dishonesty of any kind on an examination will be penalized by an F (0 points).



We will use the Sakai site for this course. Students are expected to check the site regularly, also because emails will be sent to the class.


Course books, Articles and Worksheets:

Academic Articles:

The students can access the articles online or directly from our e-journals.



Alessio Cangiano, ‘Elder Care and Migrant Labor in Migrant: A Demographic Outlook’, Population and Development Review, 40 (1), 2014, pp. 131-154.



G. Lamura, C. Chiatti, M. Di Rosa, M. G. Melchiorre, ‘Migrant Workers in the Long-term care sector: Lessons from Italy, Health and Ageing, 2010, 22, April.



The following articles can be downloaded from the Loyola library e-journals:

P. Adinolfi, “Bamboccioni” and “Mammoni”? A Familistic Interpretation of Italian Men’s Unhealthy Behaviours, International Journal of Men’s Health, 12 (1), 2013.


I. Crespi, ‘Foreign Families in the Italian Context: Migration Processes and Strategies’, Journal of Comparative Family Studies, 45 (2), March-April 2014.

Peter J. Margry, Merchandising and Sanctity: the Invasive Cult of Padre Pio, in Journal of Modern Italian Studies 7 (1), 2002, pp. 88-115.

Enzo Pace, ‘A Peculiar Pluralism’, in Journal of Modern Italian Studies 12 (1), 2007, pp. 86-100.

Emilio Reyneri, ‘Immigrants in a segmented and often undeclared labour market’, in Journal of Modern Italian Studies, 9 (2), 2004, pp. 71-93.

Chiara Saraceno,The Italian Family from the 1960s to the present’, in Modern Italy, vol. 9, 1, 2004, pp. 47-57.

Luisa Tasca, ‘The “Average Housewife” in Post-World War II Italy’, in Journal of Women's History, vol. 16, n. 2, 2004, pp. 92-115.




Worksheets dealing with an outline of the transformation of Italian contemporary society will be provided especially during the first part of the course.


Films and Documentaries:

Films and documentaries on Italy today will be watched and analyzed.




Semester Schedule:


Week 1            Presentation of the course


Week 2            The transformation of Italian society 1


Week 3            The transformation of Italian society 2


Week 4            The transformation of Italian society 3


Week 5            The Italian Family


Week 6            Gender relations


Week 7            Midterm exam


Week 8            New migration


Week 9            New migration


Week 10          Catholicism


Week 11          Catholicism


Week 12          Film/Docum on Italian family and Catholicism


Week 13          Review


Week 14          Final exam