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COOPERATION AND COLLECTIVE ACTION (non attivo per a.a. 23/24)




Anno accademico 2023/2024

Codice attività didattica
Corso di studio
Corso di laurea magistrale in Sociologia (Classe LM-88)
Master's Degree Course in Area and global studies for international cooperation
1° anno, 2° anno
Secondo semestre
Altre attività
SSD attività didattica
NN/00 - nessun settore scientifico
Tipologia esame
There are no formal prerequisites. You should, however, be interested in understanding and explaining human cooperative behaviour and be willing to engage with experimental and analytical approaches.

Sommario insegnamento


Obiettivi formativi

Cooperation and collective action are core human social behaviours. Although cooperation imposes costs on individuals, people and communities across the world consistently work together to manage their public resources, engage in trade, and organise politically. Why do people cooperate and how do they overcome the hurdles to achieve beneficial collective outcomes? In this course, we will seek to answer these and other related questions by drawing on a rich theoretical and empirical literature from across the social sciences.

In particular, we will consider the social mechanisms and factors that are involved in cooperation and the relationship between these mechanisms and the context in which they operate. Among others, we will consider role of social norms, honesty, trust, social preferences, signalling, and social structure and draw on empirical literature from across the globe. While the issues of cooperation and collective action, and its variants, have a long history in the social sciences here we will focus on the contemporary literature and adopt an experimental and analtyical approach.


Risultati dell'apprendimento attesi

Students are expected to leave the course with an enriched knowledge of cooperation and collective action, including when and how they flourish and fail, and how this varies across different contexts in the world. They will also increase their knowledge about (i) core social mechanisms and concepts that are used in a wide range of social sciences and the (ii) empirical approaches to studying cooperation and collective action and related topics. Finally, they should finish with an appreciation of how to relate the knowledge that they learn to their own research or (future) work.



This course will address the objectives and outcomes by examining the relevant literature with a focus on applications from across the world. We will discuss and examine relevant literature on cooperation and collective action with reference to:

  • Experiments (laboratory, lab-in-the-field, and field)
  • Basic game theory
  • Social norms
  • Preferences and incentives
  • Signalling and reputation
  • Conflict and trust
  • Honesty

Whenever possible, this will be done with a global perspective. Crucially, students are expected to think critically about this literature and to participate in class discussions.


Modalità di insegnamento

The course will be taught in-presence (COVID conditions permitting). Technical capacities permitting, students will also be able to follow the course online simultaneously through Webex. If in-presence teaching will not be possible, we will move to Webex.

***Students should register on this course page and not on Moodle.***

Put differently use the button "Registrati al corso" (and not "Vai a Moodle"). Registered students will receive a code for Moodle shortly before the start of the course that they can use to enrol also on Moodle. 

Due to space limitations and to allow the class to be interactive, the maximum number of students for this class is 30.

Teaching materials and videos of the classes will be made available through Moodle. A general principle throughout the course is engagement and students are strongly encouraged to actively participate in class.


Modalità di verifica dell'apprendimento

The assessment will be based on a combination of class attendance (a requirement as this is course is a laboratory) and a final presentation to carried out in small groups. For this presentation, students will be allocated a paper that is directly relevant to the course and they will be expected to (i) summarise it, (ii) discuss its strengths and weaknesses, and (iii) propose possible follow-up studies.

Testi consigliati e bibliografia


Participants will rely on a range of sources during the course. Some key texts are:

Gelfand, Michele J., Jana L. Raver, ... and Susumu Yamaguchi. 2011. ‘Differences Between Tight and Loose Cultures: A 33-Nation Study’. Science 332(6033):1100-;1104.

Henrich, Joseph, Robert Boyd, ... and David Tracer. 2005. ‘“Economic Man” in Cross-Cultural Perspective: Behavioral Experiments in 15 Small-Scale Societies’. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 28(6):795-;815; discussion 815-855.

Kollock, Peter. 1998. ‘Social Dilemmas: The Anatomy of Cooperation’. Annual Review of Sociology 24(1):183-;214.



Class dates and times will be posted nearer the start of the course. Typically, the laboratory takes place in the second semester (April-May).

Ultimo aggiornamento: 19/09/2023 09:56
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