Social Research Methodology and Technique (2008/2009)

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Course code
Maurizio Rizzini
Teaching is organised as follows:
Unit Credits Academic sector Period Academic staff
modulo 1 5 SPS/07-GENERAL SOCIOLOGY Sem. 2A, Sem. 2B Maurizio Rizzini
modulo 2 2 SPS/07-GENERAL SOCIOLOGY Sem. 2B Luca Mori

Learning outcomes

Module: modulo 1
This Course aims to the acquisition by the students of the knowledge awareness around the basic conceptual and methodological instruments, indispensable for an adequate formulation of the scientific research in the field of human and social sciences, in which it is inscribed and to which contributes also the social work.
The Course introduces and explores the paradigmatic and ontological, epistemological and methodological foundations, in extension to the techniques, with punctual references to the historical evolution of the social world’s specific cognitive and transformative enterprise, led from human and social sciences, with particular emphasis on General Sociology and Social Research. Inside, it will be privileged in first instance for didactical purposes, a postpositivist paradigm to facilitate the comprehension through a homogeneous and in a certain way complete path. The reference also intensified, to other paradigms and frames, does not lack, for the impact that that can have on the modeling, methods and research techniques, particularly on the research’s subject-object relation modality (e.g. action-research, participation-research, intervention).

Module: modulo 2
Through an analysis of classical and recent research, the course is aimed at illustrating/demonstrating the application of ethnographic tools to the worlds of welfare organizations, marginality and deviance. The goal is to show to some future social assistants how an ethnographic sensibility could help them in deepening their cultural understanding of the sense of their organizational actions.


Module: modulo 1
In the first part will be treated: pure (or basic), empirical and applied social research and elements for a metatheory of the encounter and actions’ place of the social scientist investigator and/or operator. Emphasis will be given to paradigms, ordering principles, key variables, techniques or technologies of social research and intervention, compared, according to the more important Schools and their development.

In the second: logic and research designs, from the canonical hypothetical-deductive model, to the connection between explanation and understanding, laws, sense and meaning, from the point of view of the human and social actor (Max Weber).
Particular attention will be given to measurability and measurement, from one side, with reference to some basic knowledge of statistics and an introduction to the electronic data processing programs (e.g. SPSS) [see below]; from the other, to the modalities of the cognitive representation and the self-consciousness: images, frames, personal constructs, mental maps, etc., i.e. to the human behaviours’ intrinsic logic.

In the third: basic methods (and techniques), for information collection or data construction:

- mental or verbal questioning;
- field observation [territory] (simple,…, participant);
- iconical analogical visualization tools: e.g. geneogramms, ecomaps;
- checklist;
- interview, questionnaire and Survey research.

In addition, in parallel or in extension, other techniques and tools of research in/for the social work, for formulation, control and the rational and recursive professional work verification, in interaction also with the ‘clients’, will be presented; namely:

- intake and referral forms or outlines, activity logs, the so-called (social) file folder, etc., according to different Records Systems;
- GAS (Goal Attainment Scaling);
- (other) iconical analogical visualization tools: the Visual EcoScan, the Life History Grid, etc.

The wide Bibliography, on which the Course is based, almost all present at the LiSSS’ “E. Bianchi” Library, omitted here for space reasons, will be delivered in the first lessons’ week, commented along and eventually extended following the students’ interests and the publishing of new sources. How much is sufficient for the examination is under the appropriate section below.
Beginning from the first lessons’ week, a mailing list for the Course’s students will be activated, also this academic year, to send various didactic materials: traces and lecture notes, useful integrations, etc.

Examination texts:

General section

- Bailey K. D. (2006), Metodi della Ricerca sociale. Vol. I. I principi fondamentali, Il Mulino, Bologna.
To be read. Questions asked only on measurement and scales.

Specific part

Study of one of the following Handbooks or social research Texts:

- Phillips B. S. (1972), Metodologia della ricerca sociale, Il Mulino, Bologna. Chps, I, II, III, IV; VI, VII, VIII, X, XI, XII.
[It is advisable to read the Chps V, IX, XIII]

- Bailey K. D. (1985), Metodi della Ricerca sociale, Il Mulino, Bologna.
Part I, Part II (Ch. V excluded); Part III (only the Ch. X); Part IV (only the Ch. XIV).

- Bailey K. D. (2006), Metodi della Ricerca sociale, Il Mulino, Bologna.
Vol. II – L’Inchiesta

- Bailey K. D. (2006), Metodi della Ricerca sociale, Il Mulino, Bologna.
Vol. III – I Metodi qualitativi

- Bailey K. D. (2006), Metodi della Ricerca sociale, Il Mulino, Bologna.
Vol. IV – L’analisi e l’intepretazione dei dati

Corbetta P. (1999), Metodologia e tecniche della ricerca sociale, Il Mulino, Bologna.
Part First, Chps. I and II; Part Second Chps. III and V; Part Third Chps. IX and X.

- Guidicini P. (a cura di) (1987), Manuale della ricerca sociologica, F.Angeli, Milano.
Prefazione : Cap. 1° (only to read)
Part I: Chps. 2° e 3°; [It is advisable to read the Chps.4°, 5° and 6°.]
Part II: Chps. 9°, 10° e 11° [It is advisable to read the Chps. 7°, 8°; 13°, 14° and 15°.]
Part III:Chps. 17°, 20° and 21°[Ch.21°: paragraphs 8°, 9° e 10°:(read).]

- Guidicini P. (a cura di) (2002; 2004), Nuovo Manuale della ricerca sociologica, F.Angeli, Milano.
Part Il - Le fonti di rilevazioni dei dati:
9. Il questionario e l’intervista
10. La metodologia dell’intervista
11. Come si fa un questionario

- Niero M. (1995), Metodi e tecniche di Ricerca per il Servizio sociale, NIS La Nuova Italia Scientifica, Roma:
all, the Appendice A Ch. 5°, Ch.10 excepted; [Ch. 9°, paragraphs 9.3./9.3.3. read ].
- Quivy R., Van Campenhoudt L. (1996), Manuale di ricerca per le scienze sociali, tr. it., Borla, Roma:
all, until page 238.

Module: modulo 2
Each research presented will be analysed in terms of its single steps of realisation: field access policies; identity negotiation process between researcher and natives; data collecting strategies; different types of field notes; interpretation of the field material. Moreover, researches results will be discussed in their details, thus trying to make appear those structure presiding over the cultural life of an organization.

Assessment methods and criteria

Module: modulo 1
Oral exam

The vote will be communicated to Prof. Luca Mori who teaches Methodology and Techniques of Social Research II, and averaged with the examination result of his Commission and so registered.


According to the informatics resources, in addition, also this academic year, for the interested students, a module (Credits 1) on the SPSS program, a standard in the electronic data processing, will be held in the computer room's Faculty. Will be utilised, the Buzzi C., Cavalli A., De Lillo A. (2002), Quinto rapporto IARD sulla condizione giovanile in Italia, research file, put on hand kindly from the Iard Institute; if suitable, social services DataBases, some of those places in which the participant students are in practice.

Module: modulo 2
From the reading list, available on the teacher’s web page, students will select - following their her own interests - a section not shorter than 30 pages that will be discussed during the oral test.