cod. 1009372

Academic year 2020/21
1° year of course - First semester
Academic discipline
Sociologia generale (SPS/07)
Ambito aggregato per crediti di sede
Type of training activity
48 hours
of face-to-face activities
6 credits
hub: PARMA
course unit

Learning objectives

The course aims to achieve the following objectives in relation with specific educational indicators:
a. Knowledge and understanding: The course aims to provide the main theoretical/interpretative frameworks of critical consumption and social innovation connected with food;
b. Ability to apply knowledge and understanding. Students will develop skills in the analysis of the main factors that affect (critical) food consumption.
c. Autonomy of judgment. Students will develop a critical sense in judging the functioning and motivation of critical food consumption.
e. Ability to learn. The proposed study method includes lectures, group work, individual analysis, class discussions.



Course unit content

This course discusses the topic of food consumption as a form of political and social engagement. For some decades now the production and trade of food have given rise to forms of social innovation that, on the one hand question the traditional methods of production and consumption to embrace a more environmental sensitive approach ('gree or sustainable consumption'), on the other hand they offer social and political commitment opportunities to generations or categories that do not recognize themselves in the organizational forms of participation such as parties, unions or civil society organizations. This has led to the creation of solidarity purchasing groups, ‘buycotting’ campaigns for specific products or, conversely, targeted product purchases, farmers’ markets, fair trade, and surplus food redistribution. However, against these forms of 'critical consumption' voices have risen that have underlined the class character (concentration on the upper-middle classes) and the risk of individualistic drift which tends to converge the responsibilities of the consumption model in vogue over individuals rather than systems and policies. This course offers the opportunity to deepen the analysis of critical consumption in the light of sociological theories of participation and civic engagement, and practical examples from the Italian and European reality.

Full programme

The topics covered in the course focus on:
Foundational concepts of the sociology of consumption and political and social participation;
The social and political value of critical consumerism associated with food production and trade;
The study of cases and experiences of critical consumption;
A critical analysis/understanding of critical consumerism;
Social innovation.


a) Selected readings prepared by the teacher using articles and book chapters in Italian and English.
b) Anna R. Davies, 2019, Urban Food Sharing: Rules, Tools, and Networks, Bristol: Policy Press ‘shorts’
c) Simone Baglioni et al. 2017, Foodsaving in Europe: at the Crossroad of Social Innovation, Palgrave Macmillan
d) Franesca Forno e Paolo Graziano, Il Consumo Critico, Bologna: il Mulino.

Teaching methods

Class discussions;
Group work.

Assessment methods and criteria

Group work: Students will present and discuss a case of analysis (of their choice) of a critical consumption organization or movement, and will have to present and discuss their case with peer students. The presentation will need to be accompanied by a 3000 long word essay. Passing the presentation/essay writing gives access to the oral examination.
Oral exam. On the issues addressed in class.

Other information

The activities will take place in streaming through the use of the Teams and Elly platforms. Lessons will be recorded for any asynchronous use. Lessons will be held synchronous (via Teams). During the lessons in synchronous mode (direct), mainly frontal moments will alternate with interactive moments with the students. To promote active participation in the course, various individual and small group activities will be proposed, through the use of the resources available in Elly, such as discussion forums and logbooks.