“URBANA. Quality of life and social innovation in Milan”: when sociology goes to town.



Since its birth in 1999, the Department of Sociology and Social Research of the University of Milano-Bicocca has promoted sociological research and scientific investigation of contemporary society, following its changes, with a special focus on the city of Milan.

From May 4th to May 7th  2017, the sociologists and the social scientists of the Department shared and presented their researches, analysis and investigations to the citizens of Milan, within the framework of the initiative “URBANA. Quality of life and social innovation in Milan”. The initiative, coordinated by the Department Director, Prof. Giampaolo Nuvolati, was promoted and organized by the Department under the patronage of the Municipality of Milan and the University Milano-Bicocca; with the aim of bringing university and sociology from the suburban Bicocca neighborhood to the core of the city, and in this way to strengthen and consolidate the relation between the university and the city.

Photo Credit: Simone Barbagallo

Four days of city storytelling to describe its changes through different languages and perspectives, in some of the main representative locations of Milan, with more than 100 experts, social scientists, sociologists, journalists, artists and performers, for a total of 24 free entry appointments. The event, touched many different topics, such as violence, food, gender, ageing, mobility, sharing economy, health, security, job market, sustainability and metropolitan city among others. Not only conferences and workshops but also artistic installations, music and theater performances, that gathered more than 1000 enthusiastic participants. The events was divided into four main macro themes:


  • a creative breakfast with sociologists and practitioners to talk about food policies, a topic of great interest in the current international debate;
  • a seminar at ‘Fabbrica del Vapore’ on the international positioning of the city with the professor Roberto Camagni to reply to the question: is Milan a global city?;
  • two interesting moments to discuss about flexibility, innovation and rights in the cognitive capitalism, with many experts from different fields: the first one at the new headquarter of Giangiacomo Feltrinelli Foundation to reflect on the new forms of self-employment and on the topic of the modern representation, and the second one hosted by Impact hub, one renowned local coworking, to analyze the new spaces of work that are rising in the sharing economy era with a special intervention of the council member Tajani (Labor Policy, Production Activities, Trade and Human Resources)
  • Giangiacomo Feltrinelli Foundation hosted also a round table on the topic of social innovation and on the current state of the sharing economy in Milan with some of the main experts in the city and the participation of local practitioners;
  • the conference ‘Feed the City’ to discuss the relation between city and countryside, the topic of the waste of food, the innovations in agriculture and the political perspectives of the local government in the metropolitan city, hosted at the EU Parliament Headquarters of Milan;
  • a double event inside Trotter Park to discuss of art and politic as transformative practices with the participation of the master Michelangelo Pistoletto (painter, action and object artist, and art theorist) together with experts on public spaces and musicians;

Photo Credit: Simone Barbagallo


  • a conference on the topics of health, prevention, participation, promotion in the city hold at the local Health Care Agency;
  • three events with prisoners at the three Milanese jails to connect the city and the jails and underline the importance of this connection: the first day a music performance of the San Vittore Choir (Memory House of Milan), the second day a theatrical show with the detained of Bollate Jail (Trade Union); and the third day an artistic happening with the Opera detained in collaboration with the Brera Academy (Ex Church of San Carpoforo);
  • a conference to analyze the relation between economic competitiveness and social inclusion with the participation of council members and experts on the topic, to deepen the theme of the social city in the urban agenda and to present the second Report on cities: “ The Urban Agendas in The Italian Cities” by Urban@it;

Photo Credit: Simone Barbagallo


  • three meetings to deep the issue of domestic violence with Caritas Ambrosiana, Rete Antiviolenza Milano and SVS Donna Aiuta Donna Onlus. For the occasion the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II was transformed for a day in a labyrinth as violence metaphor: enter is easy, exit no;
  • a rendezvous to discuss the opportunities for women in the city of Milan with many local success women in different field;
  • a seminar to talk about active ageing with the main local stakeholders and to promote forms of elderly participation;
  • a day voted to young people and their artistic abilities in terms of resilience with the participation of youth involved in the project MiGeneration Lab of the Municipality of Milan.
  • at the presence of the Public Prosecutor of the Republic, Armando Spataro, a moment of reflection on the history of the local criminality and on the perception of citizens with speeches from criminologists, sociologists and journalists, at the ‘Casa della Memoria’ (Memory House of Milan);


Photo Credit: Simone Barbagallo


  • a debate on the topic of mobility to reason of new urban populations, new uses of the cities and new forms of mobility hosted at Spazio Avanzi – Barra A @ Upcycle Milano Bike Café;
  • continuing with the subject of mobility, the Rossignoli Atelier, one of the last place in Milan for the artisanal production of bicycles, hosted a workshop on the history and the evolution of the bike in the contemporary society, its use as geographical tool of exploration and its agonistic dimension, with a closing demonstration of how to assemble a bike.
  • a conference to discuss the creation of the Metropolitan City, its potentialities and risks, with some contributors at the drafting of the Delrio Law and experts on the topic in partnership with the Centro Studi Grande Milano, the Metropolitan City of Milan and the Navigli Institute;
  • The last event of the initiative was an incredible interactive performance with a local theater company (‘Teatro degli Incontri’) that guided 80 participants in the area of Via Padova involving people in finesse acts to re-discover the beauty of the city.

In addition, URBANA proposed also a metropolitan walk “So far, so close: walks in the Bicocca neighborhood” to explore the historical places that marked the life of this industrial area, and to understand its processes of regeneration. The walk was guided by Ph.D Student and researchers in Urban Studies.

As underlined by the Department Director, URBANA powered the subject of the quality of life identifying the needs of the population as well as innovative solutions and it has been the opportunity for many citizens to approach new topics or to deepen old issues. The Vice-Mayor, Anna Scavuzzo (also council member for education, university and research), took part to some of the events and stressed the important role of the universities also outside their doors, as engineer of innovation, research and scientific method underling their ability to text, experiment and activate, together with the local institutions and associations, new ways to make Milan more beautiful, open and  livable.

All the information about the event are available at the link: www.urbana.sociologia.unimib.it


Dal 4 al 7 maggio 2017 Milano è stato un palcoscenico diffuso per la sociologia e le scienze sociali. Il Dipartimento di Sociologia e Ricerca Sociale dell’Università Milano-Bicocca ha infatti promosso ed organizzato, con il patrocinio del Comune di Milano e dello stesso Ateneo, una rassegna per portare la sociologia in città e affrontare i temi del cambiamento urbano, le problematiche sociali e le soluzioni possibili. 24 eventi in 4 giorni con oltre 100 esperti, tra sociologi, scienziati sociali, antropologi, criminologi, giornalisti, performers ecc hanno animato la città coinvolgendo oltre 1000 partecipanti. La rassegna ha rappresentato una grande occasione di conoscenza, confronto e connessione tra l’università e la città.