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Francesco Alberoni was born in Piacenza, Italy, on December 31, 1929.

During his university years at the School of Medicine at the University of Pavia, he studied psychoanalysis in addition to statistics under Giulio Maccacaro, and wrote his graduation thesis on witness psychology.

Shortly afterwards he moved to Milan to become assistant to Don Agostino Gemelli and begin research in the field of subjective probability.

In 1963, as adjunct professor of Psychology and Sociology at the University of Milan, he wrote The Powerless Elite, a scientific look at the transformations in the nature of movie-star worship.

This was followed by Consumption and Society, the first book in Italy to deal with the sociology of consumption. In the same period he began his study of collective movements.

He became a full professor of Sociology in 1964 and over the following twenty years taught not only at the University of Milan but also at Trent, Catania, and Lausanne.

His earliest explorations and theories relative to collective movements were published in his book, Nascent States, in 1968.

A full elaboration of his theories, however, would only appear in 1977 with the publication of Movement and Institution. In it, Alberoni explains how any historical process is the result of two forces at work, one utilitarian and economic in nature (the Institution) and the other collective and liberating (the arising mass movement). If the former transforms and innovates society, it is the latter alone which can generate social solidarity. Alberoni returned to these theories yet again in 1989 in his monumental work, Genesis.

In 1979 he published Falling in Love and Loving, which soon became an international best-seller in more than twenty languages.

Two other books about the nature of love feelings soon followed and were equally acclaimed: Friendship (1984) and Eroticism (1986). During the 1990s, Alberoni took a systematic look at the varying types of love, first in Nuptial Flight (1992), then in First Love (1997), and finally in his most complete work on the formation and evolution of the couple, I Love You, (1996), another international bestseller.

Since then, Alberoni has continued his assessment of the myriad of complex and contradictory links between sexuality and love, as he explains in his latest book, Sex and Love, published in 2005.

Widely recognized as an eminent sociologist, Francesco Alberoni is also an accomplished writer. The clear and engaging style which he has used in every book since Falling in Love and Loving and including the most recent Sex and Love, has contributed to innovating the genre of academic writing in Italy; many Italians, furthermore, regularly follow his weekly column in Il Corriere della Sera.

Positions that Alberoni has held or currently holds, beyond that of Professor of Sociology, include:

Member of the Bi-national Committee Olivetti Foundation-Ford Foundation Social Science Research Council (1964-1970)

Past President of the Italian Association of Sociology

Past President of CRS, an Italian research institute that forecasts future cultural and social trends

President of ISTUR, an Italian center of studies on tourism and cultural differences

Ex-Chancellor of the University of Trent Ex-Chancellor of IULM

Past President of the Board of Directors for RAI (Italian State Radio and Television)

University in Milan Director of the Experimental Center of Cinematography Acting

Editorialist for Il Corriere della Sera

Early Life and Training
I was born on December 31, 1929 in Piacenza, Italy. Although I was a model student and real perfectionist at school, I frankly couldn't stand the military-like discipline imposed on schoolchildren by the Fascist regime. In any case, I was a born leader, one who was always inventing games and adventures for the group of boys who usually gathered around me. Because there weren't any books in my house, I only discovered the pleasures of reading after 1945; when the Second World War ended, I took to spending most of my afternoons at the City Library, where I read a great deal of history and philosophy.

I wasn't involved directly in the war—the front was quite far away and the whole conflict had ended by the time I turned fifteen. I returned to find Piacenza buzzing with excitement, and I enthusiastically threw myself into my studies of philosophy and psychology. I had no interest or faith in politics. I was fully aware that the Fascist propaganda of previous years had been a pack of lies. I had known for some time about the horror of the Nazi concentration camps, and, thanks to a friend of mine whose father was a member of the Communist Party and well-informed about its secrets, I also knew all about the repressive killings of peasants, the atrocities committed by the GPU (Soviet Political Police), Stalin's purges, Trotsky's assassination, and the massacre of Spanish anarchists. I had come to see that politics were a terrifying mix of ideology and myth, laced not only with faith and heroism but also cynicism, betrayal, slander, savagery, and cruelty. This youthful experience would later lead me to study the sort of social explosions that generate political parties, revolutions, and oftentimes wars—which is to say, collective movements.

I would have liked to have studied philosophy at college but the fact of having attended a science-oriented high school (liceo scientifico) ruled this out, so I enrolled in the School of Medicine at the University of Pavia. My ambition was to become a psychiatrist like Sigmund Freud or Karl Jaspers. Luck had it that I became friends with someone who knew an English psycho-analyst, and thanks to this contact I began to read up on this field; by the age of twenty I had devoured all the works of Freud, Abraham, and Melanie Klein. A year later, I gave the first lecture ever made on the subject of psycho-analysis at the University of Pavia. In the last period of my medical training I attended the course that Giulio Maccacaro taught on statistical methods in research, and I also had the honor of studying under Sir Ronald Fisher, who pioneered the field of stochastic statistics. Shortly after graduation, I was invited to present a paper at the Italian Congress of Biometrics. My true vocation, however, remained psychology. Utilizing an array of experimental methods that were ground-breaking for Italy, I wrote my graduation thesis on witness psychology.

Earliest Psychological and Sociological Research
My plan was to leave for the United States as soon as I obtained my degree, but this was not to be. Instead, Don Agostino Gemelli, who headed the most important Institute of Psychology in Italy, asked me to be his assistant. In this period I was able to conduct my research on subjective probability, subsequently published in the Journal of General Psychology , which brought me international fame.

The Sociology of Consumption

And yet something was missing in my life; this exploration of the overlapping confines of empirical research and mathematical theory was not fulfilling my most profound needs. Around the same time that I was realizing this, I accepted the offer from the Bassetti company, a linen and textile manufacturer, to fund a research project about bridal trousseau choices in different regions of Italy. In my research I discovered that country folk—especially the women—wanted to emigrate to the city not because they were starving but because they had figured out that there was a future and well-being to be found there. In addition, these emigrants had no intention of ever returning to their home villages, unlike the generations who had emigrated to other parts of Europe or to America. And they underwent their socialization process ahead of time, in the sense that they were ready for their new urban existence even before getting to the city. This research spurred me to write The Integration of the Immigrant in Industrial Society, published by Vita e Pensiero in Milan in 1958. Shortly afterwards, I started studying the transformations in the nature of movie-star worship. I found that star celebrities were no longer just idealized figures but also "selected objects of collective gossip" in an increasingly internationalized society. (See The Powerless Elite, Vita e Pensiero, Milan, 1960, reprinted by Bompiani, Milan, in 1973.) This body of research represents the start of my work on consumption trends, which would eventually culminate in the publication of the first book in Europe to treat the sociology of consumption, Consumption and Society, published by Il Mulino, Bologna, 1964. The principle thesis here is that consumption is an essential element of social life and must be studied if we want to understand the motivations for human actions. (This idea is accepted as a given by many today but at the time it was quite revolutionary.) Consumption and Society may also be considered as the first book of marketing and advertising.

Studies on Collective Movements

The effects of the upheaval on pre-modern societies caused by the models of Western consumption served as a starting point for my study of collective movements. Contact with a more technologically advanced culture, characterized by superior consumer goods (clothing, weapons, means of transport, etc.), generates a state of ambivalence towards the traditions and values of one's own culture. And ambivalence fosters cultural disintegration. Individual members of the society yield to the temptation embodied in these new goods and customs and stop respecting their own traditions. The norms of social life break down, and social disorder flairs to alarming levels. Once a certain limit to social upheaval is reached, however, a collective movement explosively materializes; though in its initial phrase it eliminates these new cultural models, it eventually will incorpo rate them in a new social order. This is the theory that I developed in the second edition of my book, published in 1967.

I began to throw myself heart and soul into this new research. I realized that when Max Weber talks about the charismatic head of the nascent state, he is actually describing both the attributes of the leader and of the entire group. The nascent state signals the early beginnings of any collective movement; it can be described as an extremely special emotional and mental state that moves history in a new direction and promises a fresh start to the world. The nascent state leads to a full-fledged collective movement, which over time develops into an institution. Although the institution's aim is the realization of the dream of universal brotherhood, in reality it moves further and further away from such a goal; and when things go beyond a certain level of paralysis, the institution will have to be revitalized by the appearance on the scene of a new collective movement. This constitutes the Great Collective Cycle, as I explain in my book, Issues in Sociology, published by Editrice la Scuola, Brescia, in 1967. The following year, I determined that the same properties of the nascent state also characterize what is in appearance a drastically different phenomenon—the experience of falling in love. I explore this theory in Nascent States,published by Il Mulino, Bologna, in 1968.

When, solicited by Tom Burns, I expounded these theories in a book on consumption for the Penguin Education Series, they created a scandalous uproar. Nevertheless, I refused to modify them, and, furthermore, for the next ten years I declined to participate in the activities of the International Association of Sociology, for which I had served as chief coordinator for the Mass Communications sector. Instead, I retired to Catania, where I wrote my theoretical book on collective movements, Movement and Institution, which was published by Il Mulino, Bologna, in 1977, revised and republished by Il Mulino in 1981, and subsequently translated into English and published by Columbia University Press, New York, in 1984.

My Academic Career
My academic career during this twenty-year span was the following: adjunct professor of Psychology at the University of Milan in 1960, adjunct professor of Sociology in 1961, and then full professor of Sociology (again at the University of Milan) in 1964. I became a member of the Bi-national Committee Olivetti Foundation-Ford Foundation Social Science Research Council, then served as Chancellor of the University of Trent from 1968 to 1970. During the seventies, I taught at the University of Lausanne, the University of Catania, and then again back at the University of Milan (1978).

Research and Consultant Work in the Field of Communication Strategies
From the time of that first project for the Bassetti Company onwards, and even more frequently after the publication of Consumption and Society, I conducted numerous research projects concerning the sociology of consumption for such leading advertising firms as CPV, BBDO, and McKann Erikson, as well as for business giants like Pietro Barilla and Piero Bassetti (for whom I charted the marketing of both the Piumone (duvet) and the Perfetto line of sheets). I did further work for Anna and Carlo Bonomi at Postal Market and Miralanza, for Giuseppe Stefanel when the moment came to launch his store chain, and for Nicola Trussardi, who needed help with business communication strategies. Along with Manfredi, Maestri, Allodi, and Mambelli, I was one of the creators of Barilla's Mulino Bianco bakery brand, the advertising campaign for which I followed up to just a few years ago. I was part of the Imagine Commission for the Rinascente and then the Standa department stores. I worked with Diego Della Valle on the Tods project, with Vittorio Merloni for Ariston-Indesit, and with Franco Moschini for Frau. It was this long experience in communication strategies that led me to create the first Italian university degree program in Public Relations, and subsequently the first Faculty of Communications and Entertainment, both of which were destined to become part of the University of Languages and Communications IULM in Milan. This experience also stood me in good stead when I took over the direction of the Experimental Center of Cinematography and when I became a member of the Administrative Board of the RAI (Italian Public Radio and Television). In addition to these activities, I began as of 1973 to write a weekly column for Il Corriere della Sera, which continues even today.

Studies on the Nature of Love

In 1979 I published How Love Ignites with Garzanti Editore in Milan. The book further developed and expanded on the ideas and theoretical model that I had come up with ten years earlier. As before, I was maintaining that the experience of falling in love was in essence the nascent state (or "ignition state") of a collective movement made up exclusively of two people; this time, however, I explored the subject in great detail, using as much as possible the language of love stories rather than the abstract jargon of psychoanalysis or sociology. This book, which was rigorously scientific and at the same time innovative in its linguistic slant, was an international best-seller that was translated into twenty languages; after over ten editions, moreover, it is still in print. I used the same approach when writing Friendship in 1984, as I did with Eroticism, where I compare male and female eroticism, in 1986 (Garzanti, Milan). Both these books met with similar acclaim.

In the years that followed, I continued to study the nature and evolution of love feelings. In Nuptial Flight (Garzanti, Milan, 1992), I took at close look at pre-adolescent and adolescent crushes on film stars, and then at the general feminine tendency to seek out superior love objects. I then proceeded to make a systematic account of varying types of emotional ties, as well as of the formation and evolution of the couple in I Love You (Garzanti, Milan, 1996), an international bestseller. Following this, I returned to my investigation of how children and adolescences experience friendship and falling in love in my book, First Love (Rizzoli, Milan, 1997), and I took issue with the theories about love advanced by Sartre, De Rougemont, Bataille, and René Girare in The Mystery of Falling in Love (Rizzoli, Milan, 2003). To complete this comprehensive work, I turned to a systematic study of the one outstanding issue—that of the various links between sexuality and love, which with the title Sex and Love will be published by Rizzoli in the fall of 2005. In short, this makes for eight books which delve progressively deeper into the limitless facets of love.

At the same time, however, my research on collective movements continued. I completely rewrote Movement and Institution in 1986 in order to smooth out certain rough spots relative to my theories about the fundamental experience of the nascent state, the difference between the nascent state and nirvana, the concept of democracy, and what I term "Cultural Civilizations". I made the mistake of entitling it Genesis (Garzanti, Milan), since no one ever refers to this work by any title except the old and outdated Movement and Institution. Since then, I have written only brief essays on the subject of collective movements, a number of which were included in The Sources of Dreams (Rizzoli, Milan, 2000), later re-entitled more appropriately My Theories and My Life .

Culture-Oriented Business Ventures

In 1986 I let myself get involved in a university business venture. At the time, my wife Rosa Giannetta was an assistant professor at the University Institute of Modern Languages (IULM) in Milan, whose director was a friend of mine, Alessandro Migliazza. Determined to create a full-fledged university faculty, Migliazza enlisted my wife's help in convincing me to transfer my professorship from the State University of Milan over to the IULM, which at that time was housed in a rented space of only 3000 square meters. Shortly upon my arrival, I created the degree program in Public Relations, with an eye to satisfying the potentially immense demand of those years. It turned out to be a highly profitable success—so much so that we decided to build a new facility elsewhere. I found the ideal location to be the bit of land owned by the Milanese construction magnate Salvatore Ligresti, in the vicinity of the new Romolo metro station. Roberto Guiducci drew up the architectural project, my wife took care of the building permits and urban zoning requirements, and Ligresti got it all built in record time and at a very low cost. In no time at all, the marvelous new facility was ready. Having by then established two faculties, one for Communications and Entertainment and the other for Modern Languages, I created the University of Languages and Communications IULM. I convinced the University Board of Directors to buy up all available surrounding land—property which would sky-rocket in value in the years to come. When I myself became Chancellor of the IULM, I continued this policy of buying up land and constructing the buildings required by our ongoing expansion. We added three degree programs during those years: in Communications, Tourism, and Language Interpretation. These efforts kept my wife and me occupied for over ten years.

Over the course of 1999 and 2000, I fell seriously ill. In this same period, IULM University President Carlo Bo suddenly resigned, indicating someone else as his successor. When I regained my health anreturned to the IULM, I found that my personal vision for the university's future development was no longer viable. I resigned from my position, comforted by the knowledge that the University was on safe financial ground thanks to its immense property holdings. In Rome, I assumed the directorship of the Experimental Center for Cinematography, a wonderful institution rightly renowned all over the world, and subsequent to that, I also became a member of the Board of Directors of RAI-TV.

Works of Philosophy and Moral Philosophy

My active life and many experiences have stimulated me to write books on such subjects as human relations in the business world, power relationships, and the dynamics of daily life. I'd like to mention in this regard The Public and the Private (1987), The Envious (1991), Optimism (1994) - which was successful worldwide and a top best-seller in Japan, Find the Courage (1998), Hope (2001), and The Art of Commanding (2002).

A complete rendering of my work, however, should also include the following books of a philosophical nature: The Reasons for Good and Evil (Garzanti, 1981), The Tree of Life (Garzanti, 1982), Altruism and Morality ( which Salvatore Veca and I co-authored; Garzanti, 1988), and Values (Rizzoli, 1993).

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