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JOHN CABOT UNIVERSITY

COURSE CODE: "SOSC/ITS 250"
COURSE NAME: "Contemporary Italian Society"
SEMESTER & YEAR: Spring 2021
SYLLABUS

INSTRUCTOR: Isabella Clough Marinaro
EMAIL: [email protected]
HOURS: MW 4:30 PM 5:45 PM
TOTAL NO. OF CONTACT HOURS: 45
CREDITS: 3
PREREQUISITES:
OFFICE HOURS: Tues and Thurs 6-7pm

COURSE DESCRIPTION:
This course introduces students to the complexities of contemporary Italian society, taking a primarily ‘bottom-up’ social science approach by examining a wide variety of contexts and exploring the ways in which Italians express, negotiate and transform their cultural and social identities. By drawing on a growing body of anthropological and sociological research, it provides students with the tools to question rigid and dated assumptions about Italian social life and enables them to analyze its multifaceted, dynamic and often contradictory forms and practices, focusing primarily on the last two decades. Students are first introduced to key theoretical and methodological approaches in the sociological and anthropological study of contemporary Italy. We then examine local identities in urban contexts, how families and gender roles are transforming, and the pressures produced by the current economic crisis, as well as exploring why increasing numbers of Italians are returning to rural livelihoods. Next, we discuss life in the Italian work-place and the effects that de-industrialization, technological development and precarious work contracts are having on professional and class identities. We analyze the rising appeal of populist and ‘anti-political’ discourses and figures and then focus on how Italy’s strong civic movements are struggling to improve social life ‘from below’. Among the issues tackled are ones traditionally relegated to the private domain, such as disabilities and sexual identities. Lastly, we examine how migration is changing social and cultural life as the country becomes increasingly multiethnic, how religious (and secular) identities are expressed, and the effects that Italy’s dramatic brain-drain is having within the country.
SUMMARY OF COURSE CONTENT:

The course primarily focuses on social dynamics and identities in Italy as they have emerged in the last two decades and continue to transform in the present, although each topic is contextualized within a broader explanation of social change in the post-World War 2 era. Students are first introduced to the main theoretical and methodological approaches adopted in the sociological and anthropological study of contemporary Italy. We then examine the ways in which local and community identities are expressed and transformed in Italy’s primarily urban society, how families and gender roles have developed since the 1970s and the pressures produced by the current economic crisis, as well as the reasons and processes by which increasing numbers of Italians are re-developing rural activities and livelihoods. Next, we discuss life in the Italian work-place and the effects that de-industrialization, technological development and precarious work contracts are having on professional  and class identities. Inevitably, these new identities are also expressed in the political arena and we therefore examine the rising appeal of populist and ‘anti-political’ discourses and figures and the extent to which traditional parties are able to respond to these demands and challenges. Italy’s strong civic movements are also innovating and struggling to improve social life ‘from below’ and we explore various forms and expressions of this civic engagement and protest. Issues that have been traditionally relegated to the private domain – such as disabilities and sexual identities – are increasingly being represented in the public sphere and we explore the way the fight for rights and recognition is evolving. Lastly, we examine Italy as a multiethnic society and the increasingly transnational identities that are developing as people move into and out of the country. We discuss how immigration is changing social and cultural life and how the growing number of ‘hyphenated Italians’ express their identities. Religious (and secular) identities and practices are profoundly connected to these processes and we explore the social role of Catholicism and other religions today. We also investigate why Italy is suffering a dramatic brain-drain and the influence that young Italians abroad are having on their society of origin.

Various classes will require students to carry out field observations and interviews with Italians for homework in order to encourage experiential learning. In addition to participating in lectures, class discussions and doing the assigned readings, students will be expected to attend guest lectures offered by John Cabot and to watch a number of documentaries and films about contemporary Italy in their own time.

LEARNING OUTCOMES:

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

·         Explain the main methods and rationale of anthropological and sociological inquiry as it pertains to Italy

·         Refer to theoretical debates concerning identities, performativity and tensions between agency and structure

·         Identify the main periods of social change in post-war Italy and analyze today’s phenomena within those contexts

·         Outline the main demographic and population changes of recent decades and explain their causes and  consequences on social interactions and identities

·         Discuss the main economic developments in Italy since the 1980s especially as they concern the labor market and the workplace

·          Discuss debates concerning the body and the public sphere: gender, sexualities, and disabilities

·         Identify the main forms and expressions of grassroots action and protest and their reasons

·         Outline Italy’s recent history of in- and out-migration and discuss why people decide to migrate and how this relates to processes of identity formation

·         Explain the changing role of Catholicism in Italy and the increasing importance of secularism and alternative religious identities


READINGS: There is no single textbook for this course. Readings (book chapters and journal articles) are listed in the schedule and additional ones may be assigned as the semester progresses.
TEXTBOOK:
NONE
REQUIRED RESERVED READING:
NONE

RECOMMENDED RESERVED READING:
NONE
GRADING POLICY
-ASSESSMENT METHODS:
AssignmentGuidelinesWeight
3 Quizzes Short answer questions covering the material discussed in the previous 3 weeks of class30% (10% each)
Final ExamEssay-based exam: students critically engage with the materials and debates presented in class lectures, discussions and readings 25%
Final Research ProjectStudents research one of the problems/issues discussed in the course, debating its dynamics, impacts and possible solutions, drawing from the recommended readings and further bibliographical research. The assignment is organized in two parts: 1. An outline of the literature on the topic, presentation of research question and main points and structure of the paper. (Guidelines will be provided) 2. Final presentation, incorporating feedback on outline. 25%30% (5% outline + 25% presentation)
Class participation and evidence of activity completionAttendance is mandatory, remotely if it is impossible in person. Participation is graded based on the student's comments, questions, and active engagement in class discussions and activities. Students will receive half the grade at mid-term (7%) and half at the end of the semester (8%) 15%

-ASSESSMENT CRITERIA:
AWork of this quality directly addresses the question or problem raised and provides a coherent argument displaying an extensive knowledge of relevant information or content. This type of work demonstrates the ability to critically evaluate concepts and theory and has an element of novelty and originality. There is clear evidence of a significant amount of reading beyond that required for the
BThis is highly competent level of performance and directly addresses the question or problem raised.There is a demonstration of some ability to critically evaluatetheory and concepts and relate them to practice. Discussions reflect the student’s own arguments and are not simply a repetition of standard lecture andreference material. The work does not suffer from any major errors or omissions and provides evidence of reading beyond the required assignments.
CThis is an acceptable level of performance and provides answers that are clear but limited, reflecting the information offered in the lectures and reference readings.
DThis level of performances demonstrates that the student lacks a coherent grasp of the material.Important information is omitted and irrelevant points included.In effect, the student has barely done enough to persuade the instructor that s/he should not fail.
FThis work fails to show any knowledge or understanding of the issues raised in the question. Most of the material in the answer is irrelevant.

-ATTENDANCE REQUIREMENTS:

Letter grades and corresponding percentages for this class

94 – 100 points = A

90 – 93.99 pts = A-

87 – 89.99 = B+

83 – 86.99 = B

80 – 82.99 = B-

77 – 79.99 = C+

70 – 76.99 = C

60 – 69.99 = D

59.99 – 0 = F

Attendance is mandatory and, alongside active participation in class, makes up 15% of the final grade. If you are unable to attend class due to documented health reasons (including quarantine), you are expected to attend remotely and to participate in class discussion via the video link. If you are too unwell to do so, please let the professor know ahead of time. I will accept a maximum of one absence not related to health issues, after which I will deduct 2% from your final grade for each class missed.

You cannot make up a major exam (midterm or final) without the permission of the Dean's Office. The Dean's Office will grant such permission only when the absence was caused by a serious impediment, such as a documented illness, hospitalization or death in the immediate family (in which you must attend the funeral) or situations of similar gravity. Absences due to other meaningful conflicts such as job interviews, family celebrations, travel difficulties, student misunderstandings or personal convenience, will not be excused. Students who will miss an exam must notify the Dean's Office prior to that exam. Absences from class due to the observance of a religious holiday will normally be excused. Indivisual students who will have to miss class to observe a religious holiday should notify the instructor by the end of the Add/Drop period to make prior arrangements for making up the work that will be missed. The final exam period runs until 7 May 2021.
ACADEMIC HONESTY
As stated in the university catalog, any student who commits an act of academic dishonesty will receive a failing grade on the work in which the dishonesty occurred. In addition, acts of academic dishonesty, irrespective of the weight of the assignment, may result in the student receiving a failing grade in the course. Instances of academic dishonesty will be reported to the Dean of Academic Affairs. A student who is reported twice for academic dishonesty is subject to summary dismissal from the University. In such a case, the Academic Council will then make a recommendation to the President, who will make the final decision.
STUDENTS WITH LEARNING OR OTHER DISABILITIES
John Cabot University does not discriminate on the basis of disability or handicap. Students with approved accommodations must inform their professors at the beginning of the term. Please see the website for the complete policy.

SCHEDULE

Session

Session Focus

Reading and other assignments

(all instructions and pdfs of readings are on Moodle)

All readings are to be done for the following lesson

WK 1A

18 JAN

Introduction to the course

Assignment: Regions quiz

WK 1B

20 JAN

Introduction to course aims, theories and methods

Reading: Mignone, M.Italy Today: Facing the Challenges of the New Millennium, Introduction (pp. 13-28)

WK 2A

25 JAN

Overview of Italian social change and identity: 1861-1990s

Assignment: Interview an Italian (see questions on Moodle)

WK 2B

27 JAN

Cont’d

Reading: Mignone, M.Italy Today: Facing the Challenges of the New Millennium, Chapter 5 (pp. 131-156)

WK 3A

1 FEB

Cont’d

Reading: Argentin, G. “New generation at a crossroads: decline or change? Young people in Italy and their transformation since the nineties”The Routledge Handbook of Contemporary Italy, Ebook pp. 77-88

WK 3B

3 FEB

Social change since the 1990s. Main contemporary issues

Reading: Tintori, G and M. Colucci “From manpower to brain drain? Emigration and the Italian state, between past and present”The Routledge Handbook of Contemporary Italy, Ebook pp. 37-48

WK 4A

8 FEB

Cont’d

Reading: Carlestal, E. (2011). What a Marvelous Event: The Ever Becoming of an Italian Village.The Journal of Mediterranean Studies20 (1), 13-25.

WK 4B

10 FEB

Local and global identities

Assignment: Do Graded Quiz 1

WK 4C

12 FEB

FRIDAY

MAKE-UP


Reading: Ruspini, E. “Role and perceptions of women in contemporary Italy”,The Routledge Handbook of Contemporary Italy(ebook), pp. 64-76

Submit Graded Quiz 1

WK 5A

15 FEB

Changing families and gender roles

 

Reading: Gender Gap Report Italy

WK 5B

17 FEB

Cont’d

Reading: See sexuality studies on Moodle

WK 6A

22 FEB

The body and the public sphere: sex, sexualities and disabilities

Assignment: Do research on attitudes on multiple sexualities and LGBTQ+ rights (instructions on Moodle)

WK 6B

24 FEB

Cont’d

Assignment: Do Graded Quiz 2

WK7A

1 MAR

Uncivil society: Mafias

 

Submit Graded Quiz 2

Reading: Europol. Italian Organized Crime Threat Assessment

 

WK 7B

3 MAR

Cont’d

Reading: Colletti, A. (2019) The welfare system of Italian Mafia. In F. Allum, I. Clough Marinaro, and R. Sciarrone (Eds) Italian Mafias Today

 

Assignment: Finish outline for research project

 

SPRING

BREAK

 

WK 8A

15 MAR

North-South divide and civil society movements

 

Submit outline for research project

Reading: Hajek, A. (2013). Learning from L'Aquila: Grassroots mobilization in post-earthquake Emilia-Romagna.Journal of Modern Italian Studies,18(5),627-643.

WK 8B

17 MAR

Cont’d

Reading: Brunazzo, M., & Gilbert, M. (2017). Insurgents against Brussels: Euroscepticism and the right-wing populist turn of the Lega Nord since 2013. Journal of Modern Italian Studies, 22, 5, 624-641.

WK 9A

22 MAR

Changing media, politics and populism

Reading: De Rosa, R. & Quattromani, D. (2019). Ruling Rome with five stars. Contemporary Italian Politics, 11, 1, 43-62.

WK 9B

24 MAR

Cont'd

Reading: The ‘sectarian’ Church. Catholicism in Italy since John Paul II. Social Compass, 60, 3, 302-314.

WK 10A

29 MAR

Religion and secularism

Assignment: Do Graded Quiz 3

WK 10B

31 MAR

Cont’d

 

Submit Graded Quiz 3

Reading: Campesi, G. (August 08, 2018). Between containment, confinement and dispersal: the evolution of the Italian reception system before and after the ‘refugee crisis’. Journal of Modern Italian Studies, 23, 4, 490-506

WK 11A

5 APRIL

 

NO CLASS 

ITALIAN NATIONAL HOLIDAY

WK 11B

7 APRIL

Immigration, the “refugee crisis” and second generations

Assignment: Finish preparing research project

WK 12A

12 APRIL

Cont’d

 

WK 13A

19 APRIL

Student presentations

 

WK 13B

21 APRIL

Student presentations

 

WK 14A

26 APRIL

Student presentations

 

WK 14B

28 APRIL

Student presentations

 

FINAL

EXAMS