Sociology of vulnerability


Vulnerability is an indicator of how modern societies function. It is also an indicator of the disappearance of community or work-related socialization. Vulnerability, which cannot be reduced to inequality, is less a state than a process arising from a potential to get hurt and conditioned by a more or less permanent, and more or less developed, capacity to (re)act. The purpose of this seminar is to study vulnerable groups and their treatment by public action. Focused on student participation, the seminar is based on readings and presentations that students will be expected to make in connection with their own research work.

Recommended Prerequisite(s)

A good command of the basic concepts of sociology; ability to identify sociological theories on inequality; an interest in sociological approaches to injustice.


  • Beck U., La société du risque, Paris, Aubier, 1986.
  • Becquet V., Les « jeunes vulnérables » : essai de définition, Agora, n° 62, 2012-3, p. 51-64, 2001.
  • Brodiez-Dolino A., Von Bueltzingsloewen I., Eyraud B., Laval C. et Ravon B. (dir), Vulnérabilités sanitaires et sociales. De l’histoire à la sociologie, Rennes, PUR, 2014.
  • Castel R., Les métamorphoses de la question sociale. Une chronique du salariat, Paris, Fayard, 1995.
  • Castel R., La montée des incertitudes. Travail, protections, statut de l’individu, Paris, Seuil, 2009.

Educational formula

This class requires students’ participation. The sessions are co-constructed with the teacher, based on the theme that each student will have chosen to work on and present to the class.

Additional information

Class delivered by Joël Zaffran.

In brief

Year Fifth year

Teaching languageFrench

Teaching term Six-monthly

Number of hours 18.0

Teaching activitySeminar

ValidationContinuous assessment

Mandatory teaching