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IFCO 2395 - Comparing European Societies: together or apart?

Type d'enseignement : Lecture alone

Semester : Spring 2017-2018

Number of hours : 24

Language of tuition : English

Voir les plans de cours et bibliographies



Course Description

In 2016, mounting anti-EU sentiments in Europe culminated in the Brexit vote. Differences between European countries, rather than being regarded as signs of cultural and economic richness, were increasingly outlined as latent contradictions of the EU integration project. How large are such differences? And what about commonalities? This course aims at surveying national societies in Europe, assuming (but also discussing) the persistent centrality of the nation state as key template of social life. Building on the macro-micro dialectics, the course unfolds as an encounter with ‘structures' and patterns of individual ‘agency' across European societies. With a comparative approach, the course draws on empirical research on the characteristics and behaviours of institutions and actors. Trajectories of convergence, divergence and hybridization are illustrated as forming a complex texture that ultimately defines the uniqueness of ‘Europe' in the contemporary world.


  • CICCOLINI, Giuseppe (Etudiant à Sciences Po)
  • RECCHI, Ettore (Professor at Sciences Po)

Pedagogical format

Lecture with discussion of readings

Course validation

Students shall be evaluated on the basis of a 2 hours mid-term test (33% of the total grade) and a 2 hours final exam (66% of the total grade). A one-point bonus could be added to the final grade on the basis of class participation. Both the mid-term and final tests consist of two short essays and multiple choice questions.


Students are expected to read and be ready to discuss one-two papers per week (approximately 20/30 pages).

Required reading

  • Mau, S. and Verwiebe, R. (2010). European Societies. Bristol: Policy Press.
  • Immerfall, S. and Therborn, G. (2010) (eds) Handbook of European Societies. New York: Springer.
  • Recchi, E. (2015). Mobile Europe: The Theory and Practice of Free Movement in the EU. Basingstoke: Palgrave.

Plans de cours et bibliographies

Session n°1: Introduction to the course rationale and organization. Historical underpinnings of contemporary Europe

  • Reading: Crouch (1998), Prologue, pp. 1-31

Session n°2: The physical world: Geography and infrastructures

  • Mau and Verwiebe (2010), chapter 2; Le Galès and Therborn (2010)

Session n°3: Acting in space: spatial mobility and migration

  • Reading: Recchi (2015), pp. 49-77; Alba and Foner (2015)

Session n°4: Political structures: the welfare state

  • Reading: Van Kersbergen and Hemerijck (2012)

Session n°5: Political action: from interest to activism

  • Reading: Armingeon and Schädel (2015) ; Kern et al. (2015)

Sessions n°6: Economic structures: Markets

  • Reading: Mau and Verwiebe (2010), chapter 7 (only pp. 135-161); Hall (2014)

Session n°7: Economic action: Educational and occupational careers

  • Reading: Müller and Kogan (2010) (only pp. 246-266); Mau and Verwiebe (2010), chapter 7 (only pp. 161-169)

Session n°8: Social structures (I): family structures and demographic trends

  • Reading: Duranton et al. (2008); Fahey (2010)

Session n°9: Individual action: Sociability and leisure

  • Reading: Ganjour and Widmer (2016); Coulangeon (2015)

Session n°10: Social structures (II): civil society and religion

  • Reading: Archambault (2009); Kaufmann et al. (2012)

Session n°11: Cultural differences: identities and values

  • Reading: Galland et al. (2008)

Session n°12: The future of European society(es): convergence, divergence, hybridization

  • Reading: Diez Medrano (2012)


  • Alba, R., and Foner, N. (2016). Integration's challenges and opportunities in the Wealthy West. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 42(1), 3-22.
  • Archambault, E. (2009). The Third Sector in Europe: Does It Exhibit a Converging Movement? Comparative Social Research, 26(1), 3-24.
  • Armingeon, K., and Schädel, L. (2015). Social inequality in political participation: The dark sides of individualisation. West European Politics, 38(1), 1-27.
  • Coulangeon, P. (2015). Leisure and Cultural Consumption: The European Perspective, in International Encyclopedia of the Social & Behavioral Sciences. Oxford : Elsevier.
  • Crouch, C. (1999). Social Change in Western Europe. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Diez Medrano, J. (2012). The limits of European integration. Journal of European Integration, 34(2), 191-204.
  • Duranton G., Rodríguez-Pose A., Sandall R. (2008). Family Types and the Persistence of Regional Disparities in Europe. Economic Geography, 85(1), 23‑47.
  • Fahey, T. (2010). Population, in Immerfall, S. and Therborn, G. (eds) Handbook of European Societies. New York: Springer.
  • Galland, O., Lemel, Y., and Djezriri, S. (2008). Tradition vs. Modernity: The Continuing Dichotomy of Values in European Society. Revue Française De Sociologie, 49, 153-186.
  • Ganjour, O., and Widmer, E. D. (2016). Patterns of family salience and welfare state regimes: sociability practices and support norms in a comparative perspective. European Societies, 18(3), 201-220.