cod. 07664

Academic year 2015/16
1° year of course - Second semester
Academic discipline
Sociologia generale (SPS/07)
A scelta dello studente
Type of training activity
Student's choice
56 hours
of face-to-face activities
8 credits
hub: PARMA
course unit
in - - -

Learning objectives

a. Knowledge and understanding. Students learn to use the categories of analysis of consumer behavior and to understand the complexity of the interrelationships between individual and social dimensions, such as between different determinants of choice.
b. Applying knowledge and understanding. At the end of the course, in addition to general knowledge related to the scenarios of consumption students will acquire the main methods for the analysis of trends, as well as tools for analyzing reports from various sources and answers to specific questions.
c. Making Judgments. Throughout the course, students acquire the independence of judgment required to understand the different communication strategies implemented by the brands and their relationship with the socio-cultural context.
d. Communication Skills. The multidisciplinary approach, the variety of cases considered and presentations done by students in class enables the student to deal with different methods of communication. Specific attention paid to new brand messages enhances the acquisition of communication skills. The use of different materials together with case analysis strengthens the ability to communicate in different contexts, for different purposes. The multidisciplinary approach proposed requires a strong capability to make connections, compare methodologies and results as well as facilitating the development of learning skills. In particular, it stimulates research and the use of different sources, which are useful for analysis (research, secondary data sources, business reports). The course aims to develop independent judgment and ability to interpret several topics about consumption.


- - -

Course unit content

This course will tackle the key concepts and main theories of the Sociology of Consumption and its uses for understanding aspects related to consumer behavior. Sociological theories will be compared with contributions from other disciplines, including psychology of consumption and neuroscience. Particular attention will be paid to emerging trends in the new context of social networks, communication between consumers and brands.
The main topics include:
• Consumption scenarios: values and desirability in the time of social networks
• The determinants of individual choices
• Lifestyles and consumption behavior
• Consumption as citizenship and participation: ethical consumption and sharing economy
• Drivers of consumer behavior: between socio-cultural and technological changes
• New relationships between brand and consumer: prosumerism and co-production of value, Relationship between brand and consumer: a shared production value
• Marketing storytelling

Full programme

The course has three central focus
Consumption choices: dynamics and influencing factors
The purpose of this section is to outline a theory of consumer choice, in order to understand the complexity of factors that influence the choices themselves. For this purpose, contributions from different disciplines will be used: sociology, psychology, neuroscience. The main arguments will be: the role of emotions, identity, relationships and belief in consumption choices. In addition, emerging issues will be addressed in the scenario of the web, such as nudging and persuasive technologies.
New consumer behavior
This part is intended to outline the scenarios of consumption in contemporary society, the relationship between consumption and lifestyles. Among the topics discussed: the sharing economy; the role of the App in consumption choices; environmental sustainability; the role of aesthetics as part of the value of goods, the role of feelings.
Storytelling and advertising
The third part of the course will focus on the forms of communication between brands and consumers. By analyzing several cases, spots and video commercials, we will analyze the archetypes of the brand communication and demonstrate storytelling technics. In brief, we will explain the premise of narrative marketing: practical and symbolic brand functions, the evolution of techniques in consumer engagement for the co-production of brand value.


M. FRANCHI, A. SCHIANCHI, L’intelligenza delle formiche. Scelte interconnesse, Diabasis, 2014
G. MORICI, Fare marketing rimanendo brave persone, Feltrinelli, 2014
G. RITZER, Automating prosumption: The decline of the prosumer and the rise of the prosuming machines, “Journal of Consumer Culture”, 2015, vol 15 (3), 407-424 (online)

Teaching methods

- - -

Assessment methods and criteria

The exam is conducted by means of an oral examination, which aims to evaluate understanding and knowledge of the proposed issues (a), the ability to apply the knowledge to specific questions (b), independence of judgment (point c), communication skills (d). Finally, the need for handling categories and qualitative information acquired during the course requires students to apply knowledge already possessed, and to learn and to evaluate new information (e).

Other information

- - -