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DSOC 25A02 - Urban Sociology: Structural contexts, social dynamics and lifestyles

Type d'enseignement : Seminar

Semester : Spring 2019-2020

Number of hours : 24

Language of tuition : English


In case you have never attended an introductory course to Sociology, please study carefully Sociology Fourth Edition, by James Fulcher and John Scott, Oxford University Press, 2011.

Course Description

This course is an introduction to the sociological study of lifestyles and social relations in urban spaces. Two main parts compose it. The first part has to do with structural contexts of opportunities, and the evolution of approaches and paradigms in urban sociology. We will ask two main questions. How does sociology understand the morphology of urban spaces and their constraints? How is it possible to track social effects related to the distribution / cohabitation / segregation of different social and ethnic groups? The general idea is to highlight contemporary debates related to urban population dynamics and to relations between groups and individuals. The second part is about sociological methodology. A preliminary introduction to methods of urban ethnography will help designing and implement a mini-survey in three different types of urban spaces. Last but not least: as a teacher, I've two main intellectual goals for this course. The first one is to introduce students to the Weberian approach to community. The second one is to elaborate on the concept of integration as modes and mechanisms operating at all three fundamental levels of human social organization: (1) the micro universe of interaction in face-to-face encounters, (2) the meso world of corporate units and categoric units, and (3) the macro systems of institutional domains and stratification systems as these become the pillars of societal and inter-societal structures.


VITALE, Tommaso (Associate Professor and Scientific Director of the Master “Governing the Large Metropolis”, Sciences Po)

Course validation

A paper based on a short collective urban ethnography (between 3000 and 4000 words, by groups of four students) 75% Class participation: random selection of four students to present and discuss the readings of the week (25%)

Required reading

  • Gottdiener M., Hutchison R., Ryan M., 2015, The New Urban Sociology, Fifth Edition, Westview Press, Boulder, CO.
  • Be careful: Fifth edition is required. Please do not read the IV edition. You can download it here:

Additional required reading

  • Television drama series: The treme, season 3 (10 episodes, 2013). Created by created by David Simon and Eric Overmyer.
  • Small, Mario (2017), Someone To Talk To, Oxford University Press, Oxford.