Scheda programma d'esame
Anno accademico2019/20
PeriodoSecondo semestre

Obiettivi di apprendimento
Learning outcomes

 Il corso sarà interamente in inglese, con la partecipazione del Prof. Marcello Musto (York University).

Per le informazioni vedere dunque la versione inglese. 



By the end of the semester, students are expected to be able to:

  • - understand theoretical ideas of the key theorists of modern and contemporary sociology like Georg Simmel and Karl Marx
  • - make connections between contemporary theories and classical theories
  • - have a sense of the historical and intellectual circumstances in which each of these thinkers emerged
  • - compare similarities and differences between the perspectives of different thinkers
  • - identify relative strengths and weaknesses of given theories
  • - discuss contemporary social phenomena in light of the theories learned in course
  • Read and understand original texts of the chosen authors. 
Assessment criteria of knowledge

The knowledge will be tested through a continuous debate in classroom and the final oral proof. If the course numbers will allow, students will have the possibility to write and discuss a term paper. 



Students will be able to read and understand complex theretical texts, to do  bibliographical research, to write and present a term paper. 

Assessment criteria of skills

The skills will be tested through the texts comment in classroom, collective discussion and the final oral proof. If the course numbers will allow, students will have the possibility to write and present in class a term paper. 


Students require basic knowledge in social and political thought. 

Teaching methods



  • Lectures
  • Class and small discussion
  • Independent student writing and reflection
  • Videos and films
  • In-class activities
  • Any other instructions as appropriate for learning needs

Syllabus of the course: Sociological Theory. Money, capital and modernity in Karl Marx and Georg Simmel


The year 2018 marks the 200th anniversary of Karl Marx’s birth and the 100th anniversary of Georg Simmel’s death. This course wants to take the occasion to reflect on the relation between their works and diagnosis of modern society and culture.

The relevance of Marx’s writings to Simmel’s oeuvre is out of question: in the premise of his major work, Philosophy of Money(1900),Simmel declares his intention “to construct a new storey beneath historical materialism” (from the Preface). The continuities between Simmel’s work and Karl Marx’s Capitalare most striking at the level of the diagnosis of modern society: the analysis of alienation, commodity fetishism, and capital’s quantifying and accelerating tendencies are not only critically discussed but also expanded in Simmel’s investigations of the paradoxes of modern culture, to the point that David Frisby once said, The Philosophy of Money is a Capitalwritten in dialogue with Kant’s Transcendental Aesthetic instead of Hegel’s Logic. These analysis, however, have very different philosophical and political foundations: whereas Marx relied on the tradition of Left Hegelianism, English political economy, and French socialism, Simmel dialogued mainly with neo-Kantianism, neoclassical economics, and vitalism. To what extent, then, do Simmel’s investigations on money supplement, widen or contradict Marx’s analysis of capital? Do their different philosophical and methodological starting points prevent a productive dialogue between their arguments? How to reconcile Marxian analyses of class and exploitation with Simmel’s focus on pathologies affecting the totality of modern individuals? In what way can the confrontation between their perspectives become relevant for current sociology and social philosophy?

This course will try to reflect on these aspects of the relation between Marx and Simmel.


  1. WEEK

Capital, money and the experience of modernity in the work of Marx and Simmel: an introduction

  1. WEEK

Marx: The Materialist Conception of History

  • WEEK

Marx: The Grundrisse

  1. WEEK

Marx: Capital I, Unpublished Ch. VI: The Critique of Capitalist Alienation

  1. WEEK

Marx: Primitive Accumulation, Capitalism and Surplus Value

  1. WEEK

Marx: The Last Studies

  • WEEK

Simmel: On Social Differentiation, metropolis and modernity

  • WEEK

Simmel: The Problem of the Philosophy of History(I and following versions)

  1. WEEK

Simmel: Philosophy of Money: lineaments of a theory of value (analytical part)

  1. WEEK

Simmel: Philosophy of Money: the construction of individuality in the sequence of purposes (synthetic part)

  1. WEEK

Conclusion: not all that is solid melts into air? Marx, Simmel and solid/liquid modernity


A detailed class calendar and readings will be available on the moodle platform of the course.



Georg Simmel (ed. by Levine),On Individuality and Social Forms, University of Chicago Press, 1971.

Excerpts from Karl Marx, Grundrisse (Penguin, 1993), Karl Marx, Capital (Penguin, 1990), and Marcello Musto (ed.), Karl Marx’s Grundrisse. Foundations of the Critique of Political Economy (Routledge, 2008)

Volumes of Marx-Engels Collected Works are available online at


The course will be entirely in English, in partnership with Prof. Marcello Musto, York University. 

Ultimo aggiornamento 10/09/2019 12:07