Sociology of catastrophes and cultural traumas (2017/2018)

Course code
Name of lecturer
Lorenzo Migliorati
Lorenzo Migliorati
Number of ECTS credits allocated
Academic sector
Language of instruction
1° periodo di lezioni - 1° anno (1B) dal Nov 10, 2017 al Dec 23, 2017.

Lesson timetable

Go to lesson schedule

Learning outcomes

A civil defence worker with sufficient professional training should have not only technical capabilities but also cultural and sociological awareness in order to deal with the more strictly social consequences of disasters as well as the practical ones. The former are less visible, therefore tend to be underestimated although they are the least simple to deal with. On the other hand, however, they are also those which plant the most lasting consequences in the humus of the social group and those which are most at risk of leading to crisis.
Students on this course will be expected to be familiar with these issues and their more cultural and social implications and to demonstrate their ability to discuss them critically and apply them to specific contexts, using the case studies which will be discussed during the course.


The aim of this course is to explore a number of social, organizational and cultural mechanisms which lie behind the making sense of and constructing the meaning of disasters in the heart of the communities hit by them. The principal of these mechanisms are the cultural and symbolic meanings which social groups assign to catastrophes and the consequences their arrival can lead to regarding the social identity of the groups’ members.
A number of crucial areas for the sociological analysis of disasters will be examined in depth:
a. Identity: the implications and consequences which the occurrence of unexpected events generates concerning the sense of continuity of the individual self and social groups;
b. Risk: we will examine the issue of risk from macrosocial, microsocial and cultural perspectives;

Reference books
Author Title Publisher Year ISBN Note
Ligi Gianluca Antropologia dei disastri (Edizione 1) Laterza 2009 9788842086093
Alexander Jeffrey C. La costruzione del male. Dall'Olocausto all'11 settembre (Edizione 1) Il Mulino 2006 8815108955
Migliorati Lorenzo Rischio, una parola pericolosa. Uno studio sulla funzione sociale del rischio. (Edizione 1) Qui Edit 2006 88-89480-87-4

Assessment methods and criteria

The final evaluation of this course consists in verifying that the student has acquired:
1. Content of the course (with specific reference to the suggested books);
2. The ability to "cross" critically the content of course by producing a synthesis of knowledge and personal re-elaboration;
3. The ability of oral expression, logically consequential and appropriate to the depth level of the required analysis.
5. The ability to synthesize thought expressed in an oral form.

Teaching aids