By Design or by Disaster

Alvise Mattozzi

Alvise Mattozzi, semiologist, works as Research Fellow in Sociology of Cultural and Communicational Processes at the Free University of Bozen-Bolzano. His research, at the crossroad of Science and Technology Studies and Design Studies, focuses on the agency of objects and on how to describe it. He is convinced that such knowledge can help in designing artifacts which dispose sustainable practices.
[/one_third][two_third_last]Master in Eco-Social Design | WS15/16


The course is an introduction to main sociological concepts, categories, issues, debates and research methods by using as examples and cases food related sociological research and articles. The course will then also allow introducing students to the issue of food considered as a social actor – thus, following the topic of this year studio projects.

The first two classes will consist in a preliminary overview of what sociology is, how it works and how contemporary issues, and especially the increasing relevance of artifacts, questioned many of its traditional categories. Then, in each class, a sociological category (such as nature/culture, structure/agency, micro/macro, production/consumption, etc.) or concept (such as globalization, risk, practice, etc.) and a sociological research method (such as ethnography, interviews, surveys, etc.) will be introduced, exemplified and discussed, through cases related to food.

The course aims at providing students with tools (categories and methods) that will allow them to understand compare, and, in case, use or reproduce, in view of their design projects, sociological researches.

In order to attain this goal, besides lectures and exercises in class, students will be asked to read and discuss (in oral and written forms) sociological articles.

Part of the course will take place within the studio courses in order to better integrate the sociological reflection and practice with students’ projects.



F. Cochoy, “A Sociology of Market-Things: On Tending the Garden of Choices in Mass Retailing”, in The Sociological Review, 55, 2007, pp. 109–129.

C. Counihan and P. Van Esterik (eds.), Food and Culture. A Reader. Routledge, 2013.

N. Elias, Über den Prozeß der Zivilisation. Soziogenetische und psychogenetische Untersuchungen. Verlag Haus zum Falken, 1939. (Eng. tr. The Civilizing Process. Sociogenetic and Psychogenetic Investigations, Blackwell, 2000)

A. Giddens, P. W. Sutton, Essential Concepts in Sociology, Wiley-Blackwell, 2014.

D. Goodman and E. M. DuPuis, “Knowing food and growing food: Beyond the production–consumption debate in the sociology of agriculture”, in Sociologia Ruralis, 42/1,2002, pp. 5-22.

A. E. Guptil, Denise A. Copelton, B. Lucal, Food and Society: Principles and Paradoxes, Polity, 2012.

M. Harvey, A. McMeekin, A. Warde (eds.), Qualities of Food. Manchester University Press, 2004.

G. A. Fine, Kitchens. The Culture of Restaurant Work, University of California Press, 1996.

C. Geertz, “‘Deep Play’: Notes on the Balinese Cockfight”, in Daedalus, 101/1, 1972, pp. 1-37 (now in The Interpretation of Cultures, Basic Books, 1973, pp. 412–453)

C. Grasseni, Beyond Alternative Food Networks: Italy’s Solidarity Purchase Groups. Bloomsbury, 2013.

B. Latour, “On Interobjectivity”, in Mind, Culture, and Activity, 3/4, 1996, pp. 228–245.

B. Latour, B., Reassembling the Social: An Introduction to Actor-Network-Theory, Oxford University Press, 2005.

M. Kneafsey et al., Reconnecting Consumers, Producers and Food: Exploring “Alternatives” , Berg, 2008.

A. Mattozzi and T. Piccioni, “A Depasteurization of Italy? Mediations of Consumption and the Enrollment of

Consumers within the Raw-Milk Network”, Sociologica, 3/2012.

C. Méadel and V. Rabeharisoa, “Taste as a form of adjustment between food and consumers”, in R. Coombs, A. Richards, P-P Saviotti, and V. Walsh (eds.), Technology and the Market: Demand, Users and Innovation, Edward Elgar, 2001.

D. Miller, A Theory of Shopping, Cornell University Press, 1998.

R. Nimmo, Milk, Modernity and the Making of the Human: Purifying the Social, Routledge, 2012.

A. Nutzenadel and F. Trentmann (eds.), Food and Globalization: consumption, markets, and politics in the modern world. Berg, 2008.

G. Ritzer and Z. Atalay (eds.), “McDonaldization”, in G. Ritzer and Z. Atalay (eds.), Readings in Globalization. Key Concepts and Major Debates, Wiley-Blackwell, 2009, pp. 380-407.

J. Urry, Sociology Beyond Societies: Mobilities for the Twenty-First Century. Routledge.

Interesting questions / statements

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