Sociology and social research (2018/2019)

Course code
Luca Mori
Teaching is organised as follows:
Unit Credits Academic sector Period Academic staff

Learning outcomes

Knowledge and understanding
- Knowledge and understanding of the determinants of bio-psycho-social well being (with particular regard to the main social problems often faced by social workers)
- Knowledge and understanding of the main process of social change

Ability to apply knowledge and understanding
- Ability to place users problems in the wider social dynamics
- Ability to project and conduct researches on social problems and social needs of a specific territorial area
- Ability to recognize the main causes of people needs and distinguish among their social, familiar and personal roots.

The course has a twofold goal. Firstly it aims to provide student with the knowledge and understanding necessary to analyze from a sociological perspective the processes of social changes with particular regard to those relevant for the profession. By the end the students will be able to understand how personal problems have deep social roots and how they often depends on complex mechanisms of social production of deviance. Secondly the course provides the basic knowledge related to the methods and techniques of social research with attention to the applicative aspects in the context of social service work. The aim is to provide future social workers with the tools to critically read and set up social research in their areas of expertise and to formulate interpretations / explanations empirically founded.


The course introduces the different patterns of social research, illustrating its typical phases, investigation techniques, collection / detection / co-construction of data and information, data analysis (descriptive statistics) and information (qualitative analysis of content), the spendiness of research, the sense of research in social service environments. The course does not require specific prior knowledge. The course does not require specific prior knowledge. Lesson Schedule 1. General introduction to social research paradigms. 2. Quantitative Research (Approaches, Theories, Survey Techniques). 3. Qualitative research (approaches, theories, investigation techniques). 4. Research applications for some social service issues. 5. Social Search in the Web: Tools, Potential, Limits.
The course will be dedicated almost exclusively to the work of the Canadian sociologist Erving Goffman. Afetr having briefly illustrated the structuralist roots of Goffman's sociology, we will take into considerations those papers that face directly the analysis of individual self. Through their examination, will shed light on the process of social construction of individuals identity. More precisely, we will understand how personal dignity and personal demeanor depend on the capacity of the subjects to conforms to precise social norms. The lack of respect of these rules give rise to mechanisms of marginalization and stigmatization. PREREQUISITES: To fully understand the contents of the course it is not needed any particular knowledge. CONTENTS: Social facts; the ritual construction of selfhood: face-work; the ritual languages of deference and demeanor; équipes and social construction of reality; backregion and frontregion; three forms of individual identity: virtual identity, actual identity and personal identity; stigma as a form of identity incongruence; the discredited and the discreditable; Stigma and moral careers; stigma acceptation as a form of marginalization and social exclusion; The interaction order as a social order sui generis.

Assessment methods and criteria

Examination consists of two distinct parts. First part. Written exam: 3 open questions about the topics of the lessons and the texts indicated in the program. Examination concerns: - understanding of the main concepts discussed in the course; - clarity of exposure; - the ability to critically analyze methodological choices; - the ability to propose appropriate research strategies to a concrete case. Part Two: production of a research protocol according to pre-established format (delivered by the teacher and illustrated during the lessons) on subjects consistent with the profession of the Social Worker. The protocol must be the result of work in small groups. Intermediate / intermediate tests (partial or total) of the first test may be agreed upon. The final vote will be given by the average of the votes obtained in the two trials.
The final exam consists of a written test. The candidate will have to answer to 3 open questions in 2 hours of time. Three questions will deal with the topics presented and discussed during the lessons. The third question will try to elicit the critical analysis skills of the candidates. The students will be asked to develop a personal reflection on some topics treated during the course (a comparison, a critical comment, an empirical exemplificaton, etc.) Evaluation criteria: - The degree of comprehension of the discipline; - the degree of comprehension of the single concepts; - the capacity of presenting theoretical problems; - the mastery of the disciplinary lexicon; - the capacity to connect different topics; - the capacity to provide powerful empirical exemplification of the theoretical concepts discussed.

Reference books
Author Title Publisher Year ISBN Note
Oprandi N. Focus group. Breve compendio teorico Emme Erre 2001
Goffman E. Il rituale dell'interazione Il Mulino 1988
Niero M. Introduzione alla progettazione e alla pratica della ricerca sociale Guerini Scientifica 2005 8881071908
Goffman E. La vita quotidiana come rappresentazione Il Mulino 1997
Durkheim É. Le forme elementari della vita religiosa Meltemi 2005
Durkheim É. Le regole del metodo sociologico. Sociologia e Filosofia Edizioni di Comunità 1996
Goffman E. L'ordine dell'interazione Armando 1998
Lonardi C. Raccontare e raccontarsi. L’approccio biografico nelle scienze sociali QuiEdit - Verona 2006
Goffman E. Stigma Ombre Corte 2003