Keywords: Culture, Ethnography, ritual, rite of passage, genre, education, education ritual, graduation, Italy


Aims.The research aims to reconstruct the phases of the new ritual of graduation in Italy to fully understand if there are a variety of social forms and conventions (linked to symbolic aspects) to be satisfied and if there are elements of ambiguity.

Methods.Using ethnographic technique, I chose to develop on the one hand a thick description of the ritual that highlights the "stratified hierarchy of significant structures" (Geertz 1998) while on the other I tried to develop a comparative methodology that takes into account - both temporal and spatial level - of some of the different graduation ritual models that exist and have existed.

Results.  The analysis shows that there is a lack of consistency between the new degree model and the new graduation ceremony model. Furthermore, in the one hand, the liminal theatricality of the rite satisfies the demands of collective catharsis; on the other hand, there are some ambivalences and there is a lack of consistency between the conventions (and its symbolisms) in the ceremony and the university experiences that students could have in Italy.

Lastly, the moral entrepreneurs paid too little attention to the original meanings of the model of celebration from which it draws and its criticality.

Conclusions.Rituals in the educational field are very important socio-cultural forms of production of meanings whose modification could be more satisfactory if there was a greater reflection on the original educational models and if, in this reflection, they were involved
a large number of subjects belonging to different groups.

Author Biography

Giorgia Riconda, University of Milan Bicocca - Piazza dell'Ateneo Nuovo, 1, 20126 Milano MI, Italia.

With a background working as journalist (for more than 6 years), graduate in Political and Social Sciences at University of Turin and now postgradute student at MA in Sociology of the University of Milan-Bicocca. I had two study experiences abroad at the University of Seville in 2014 and Central European University in Budapest in 2018, where I further deepened my interests. My research interests centre around: Sociology of Culture, Sociology of Education, Cultural Studies, Postcolonial and Decolonial Approach, Human Geography, Tourism, Race and Class.


La tesi di laurea (triennale) oggi non si discute più [The final paper (Bachelor) is no longer discussed] (2012). Retrieved from [2017]

Ballarino, Gabriele, e Hans M. A. Schadee (2008). La disuguaglianza delle opportunità educative in Italia, 1930-1980: tendenze e cause [The inequality of educational opportunities in Italy, 1930-1980: trends and causes]. Polis, n. 3/2008

Barone, C. (2012). Contro l’espansione dell’istruzione (e per la sua ridistribuzione) : il caso della riforma universitaria del 3+2 [Against the expansion of education (and its redistribution): the case of the university reform of 3 + 2]. Scuola Democratica 4, n. 1.

Becker, H. S. (1963) Outsiders. Simon and Schuster.

Bernabei, V. (2011) . E sulla tesi adesso non si discute più [And the thesis is now no longer discussed]. Retrieved from [2017]

Bettini, A. (2008). Università, cerimonie addio e la laurea arriva in un minuto [University, ceremonies, goodbye and graduation comes in a minute]. Retrieved from [2017]

Burnett, J. (1969). Ceremony, Rites, and Economy in the Student System of an American High School. Human Organization 28, n. 1.

Ferro, C. (2011). Lauree all'americana a Ca’ Foscari. Discussioni abolite per le triennali [American-style graduation at Ca 'Foscari. Discussions abolished for the Bachelor’s degree]. Retrieved from [2017]

Ferro, C. (2011). Lancio del tocco per 500 in piazza San Marco. Con protesta [Launch of the caps for 500 student in Saint Mark’s Square. With protest]. Retrieved from [2017]

Geertz, C. (1973). The Interpretation of Cultures: Selected Essays. Basic Books.

Griswold, Wendy (1987).A Methodological Framework for the Sociology of Culture». Sociological Methodology 17: 1.

Hall, E. T. (1982). The Hidden Dimension. Anchor Books.

Kuh, G. D., Whitt E. J. (1988). The Invisible Tapestry: Culture in American Colleges and Universities. Wiley.

Lago, A. Dal, De Biasi, R. (2014). Un certo sguardo: Introduzione all’etnografia sociale [A certain look: Introduction to social ethnography]. Gius.Laterza & Figli Spa.

Magolda, P. M. (2003). Saying Good-Bye: An Anthropological Examination of a Commencement Ritual. Journal of College Student Development 44, n. 6.

Moscati, R. (2010). Le trasformazioni dell’università italiana [The transformations of the Italian university]. Scuola Democratica 1, n. 1.

Navarini, G. (1999). Il congresso di Forza Italia: descrizione di una performance rituale [The Congress of Forza Italia: description of a ritual performance]. Rassegna Italiana di Sociologia, n. 4/1999.

Navarini, G. (2003) L’ordine che scorre: introduzione allo studio dei rituali [The flowing order: introduction to the study of rituals]. Carocci.

Quantz, R. A. (1999). School Ritual as Performance: A Reconstruction of Durkheim’s and Turner’s Uses of Ritual. Educational Theory 49, n. 4.

Roesel, Lorenzo (2016). Niente discussione alla laurea triennale? Lo “sconto” che gli studenti non vogliono [No discussion at the three-year degree? The "discount" that students do not want]. Retrieved from [2017]

Tota, A. L. (2003). La comunicazione pubblica del passato. Uno studio etnografico sulla commemorazione della strage di Bologna [Public communication of the past. An ethnographic study on the commemoration of the Bologna massacre]. Rassegna Italiana di Sociologia, n. 1/2003.

Turner, V. W. (1974). The Ritual Process: Structure and Anti-Structure. Penguin Books Limited.

Van Gennep, A. (2013). The Rites of Passage. Routledge.

Wagner-Pacifici, R., Schwartz, B. (1991). The Vietnam Veterans Memorial: Commemorating a Difficult Past. American Journal of Sociology 97, n. 2.

Waters, T. (2003). The problem with valedictorians. Retrieved from [2017]

How to Cite
Riconda, G. (2019). ITALIAN GRADUATIONS DAY: A NEW MODEL OF RITUAL. Journal of Education Culture and Society, 10(1), 200-218.