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CODE 114703
SEMESTER 1° Semester


By "imaginary," we mean the set of symbols, images, representations, and narratives of social life through which individuals understand, communicate, and transform reality. The sociology of the imaginary specifically aims to study symbols, representations, narratives, myths, and archetypes placed at different levels of social life and consciousness, through which individuals and groups understand, communicate, and transform their reality. Knowledge of the theory and practices of the imaginary provides the tools to develop the ability to critically observe the symbolic forms of the present.



The course aims to provide the theoretical and methodological foundations of the analysis of contemporary imagery and forms of visual culture: from systems of collective beliefs to the production and consumption of different aesthetic and representational forms, from the status of the image in the cultural industry to the centrality of the visual dimension in social and media contexts. The teaching focuses on the analysis of symbols, representations, narratives, discursive orders, situated at different levels of social life and cultural production, through which individuals and groups understand, communicate, and transform their reality. The imaginary represents both the horizon of meaning guiding the actions of social actors and the creative products of their actions.


Specifically, the course aims to achieve the following objectives:

  • Provide theoretical and empirical tools to observe the current status of the "society of the image" as spread in the media territories of contemporary collective imagination.
  • Provide adequate analytical tools to understand the socio-cultural dimension of the gaze.
  • Stimulate attention and critical understanding of the concept of representation.
  • Introduce the study of Visual Sociology in relation to the cultural perspective.
  • Provide the necessary tools to set up a visual research project in accordance with the Visual Sociology approach.
  • Introduce the study and critical analysis of visual culture with particular reference to the following analytical and research paths:
  1. Imaginaries of the future: The future is an idea and above all a "cultural fact." The future that lives in the present is not only a complex set of cultural productions and memories of past futures, but it is also a complex of social practices. The module focuses on the "forms" in which it circulates: the hegemonies and counter-hegemonies of the discourses on the representation of the future influence the horizons of expectation that we cultivate and therefore deeply affect our actions.
  2. Imaginaries and visual representations of gender: From the first studies on gender representations in art, cinema, and advertising to the perspectives of feminist and queer studies, theories and case studies will be presented to understand the performative visual construction of gender.
  3. Representations of identities: Devices and visual discourses are the basis of power and distinction relationships. Through the contributions of cultural studies and post-colonial studies, concepts of ethnicity, othering, as well as forms of resistance and reinterpretation of discriminatory representations in an intersectional key will be addressed.
  4. Images and digital technologies: The subject is the relationship between media and visuality: the impact of digital and platforms on contemporary visual cultures will be analyzed through the study of objects of digital everyday life.
  5. Imaginaries of bodies: In the neoliberal society of individual responsibility, the body assumes a political value. Every era and every culture produces imaginaries of bodies. The module's focus is therefore the analysis of the symbolic meanings of bodies and the modes of representation.
  6. Youth cultures and music: The subject of this module is youth subcultures and the moral panic that has always been constructed around them. In particular, the Italian trap scene will be analyzed.

    ---------------------- Lerning Outcomes:

  • Knowledge and understanding skills: the knowledge to be acquired concerns topics related to imaginaries, representations, the connotation of the society of the image, and its development.

  • Ability to apply knowledge and understanding: through the ability to analyze visual cultural products by applying the main analytical methodologies from Visual Sociology. 2.1. Competencies acquired through practical exercises in class.

  • Judgment skills: critical reflection on the evolutionary dynamics of the society of the image and visual culture, as well as ongoing transformations concerning communication as a whole and image-based communication in particular. 3.1. This judgment skill must be applied in class discussions with the instructor and peers, during exercises, in choosing one of the in-depth study paths, and in preparing for the final exam.

  • Communication skills: students are called to interact in class through questions, exchanges with study peers, and the drafting of short presentations during exercises, also based on the chosen thematic in-depth study path. 4.1. Skill practiced in class through the organization of discussion and exercise sessions.

  • Learning skills: students are required to adopt a critical learning method capable of connecting theoretical knowledge and empirical analysis, aiming at developing autonomous thinking. 5.1. Skill to be enhanced through argumentation with the instructor and peers.

  • 1.1. Students acquire this basic knowledge through attending lectures and seminars, studying the texts discussed in class, and participating in class exercises.

    1.2. Students deepen their study and empirical analysis of one of the proposed paths based on their own interests.



The teaching activity is structured on the assumption of co-construction of knowledge and the inductive method, and it requires an active role from participants in reworking and reorganizing knowledge. The educational objective of this teaching perspective is the development of critical skills and the autonomous use of analytical categories. The mode of the program will be available on the first page of aulaweb and will be constantly updated during the course. Slides and supplementary materials related to the lessons will also be available on aulaweb.




  1. The Sociology of the Imaginary and Visual Cultures

  2. The Society of the Image and the Iconic Turn

  3. Imaginary and Cultural Industry

  4. Representation

  5. Vision as Cultural and Situated Action: Sociology of the Gaze

  6. Visual Research as a Cognitive Approach

  7. The Design of Visual Research

  8. Research on and with Images: Methodology and Techniques of Visual Analysis

  9. Analysis and Research Paths

  10. Imaginaries of the Future

  11. Imaginaries and Visual Representations of Gender

  12. Representations of Identities

  13. Images and Digital Technologies

  14. Imaginaries of Bodies

  15. Youth Cultures and Music



The texts and materials for the exam will be indicated on aulaweb




first semester

Class schedule

The timetable for this course is available here: Portale EasyAcademy



For attending students, it is possible to bring an agreed-upon paper to the exam, discussed with the instructor during the course. For non-attending students, an oral exam on the texts is required.


The assessment of learning will take place through an individual oral interview based on the reference texts for the exam, aimed at evaluating both the student's understanding of the content and their ability to rework and argue.


For students with disabilities or specific learning disorders (SLD).

Students with disabilities or SLD are reminded that to request exam accommodations, they must first upload their certification on the university's website at in the "Students" section. The documentation will be verified by the Inclusion Services for Students with Disabilities and SLD of the University (

Subsequently, with significant advance notice (at least 10 days) before the exam date, it is necessary to send an email to the professor who will administer the exam, copying both the School Inclusion Coordinator for students with disabilities and SLD (coordinator's email) and the above-mentioned service. The email must specify:

  • The name of the course
  • The date of the exam session
  • The student's last name, first name, and student ID number
  • The compensatory tools and dispensatory measures deemed functional and requested

The coordinator will confirm to the professor that the requester is entitled to request exam accommodations and that these accommodations must be agreed upon with the professor. The professor will respond, indicating whether the requested accommodations can be used.

Requests must be sent at least 10 days before the exam date to allow the professor to assess their content. Specifically, in the case of using concept maps for the exam (which must be much more concise than the maps used for studying), if the submission does not meet the deadlines, there will not be enough time to make any necessary modifications.