History of science

A.Y. 2019/2020
Overall hours
Learning objectives
The course aims to introduce students to the logic that guides the design, implementation and critical analysis of an empirical research. The program is divided into three modules: the first deals with the language of social research; the second one explores the "measuring" paradigm, of which poll and survey are the main methods; finally, the third module is devoted to the qualitative paradigm (discursive interview, focus group and ethnography).
Expected learning outcomes
Knowledge and understanding
- to fully understand the articulated field of social science epistemology and social research methodology, whose conceptual devices and tools are used by different disciplines and approaches: philosophical, sociological, political, economic, psychological, pedagogical, etc.
- to address the ethical problems and moral dilemmas that researchers encounter when conducting empirical research
- to transmit the necessary knowledge to understand in depth the conceptual devices involved in scientific knowledge, according to the different theoretical-practical alternatives useful for conducting an empirical research
- to deepen the following methods: the survey, the discursive interview, the focus group and ethnography. For each of them the specific and particular epistemological problems (the problem of the observer, the conventional and contextual nature of the data, etc.), methodological issues (the researcher-participant relationship, the quality of the data, etc.) and technical aspects will be addressed.

Applied knowledge and understanding
- to apply the acquired knowledge to rework ethical and moral problems, conduct empirical research in the philosophical, sociological, political, economic, psychological, pedagogical etc. fields and on this basis to develop critical judgments
- to critically compare the different theoretical-practical methods and related alternatives for conducting an empirical research

Autonomy of judgment
- to develop specific competences that allow the student, basing also on his theoretical and personal preferences, to conduct empirical research taking into account the existing constraints, resources and opportunities of each situation or organization, in order to develop an ad hoc or tailored research.

At the end of the course the student will be able to apply the knowledge learned in the different fields of the discipline, and to adopt the different methodological and research perspectives available.

1. Communication skills
Through the teamwork exercise the students will learn to cooperate in groups. By presenting the findings of their exercise, the students will learn to draw up a report (using PowerPoint or other). In addition, through class presentations they will learn to communicate in public.

2. Ability to learn
The exercise in small teamworks will allow the students to reflexively learn the contents delivered by the teacher in frontal lectures.

3. Knowledge and experience (for attending students)
Attending students who will participate to the teamwork exercise, will have an initial socialization to empirical research. The exercise is an added value, which helps to overcome the limitations of a traditional (frontal) course; in this way the knowledge is also embodied in experience (know versus know-how). In addition, the exercise also offers an empowerment of specific skills, potentially useful for the future: in fact, conducting interviews, coordinating group, communicating in public, working in groups, etc. are often required skills in companies and institutions. The secondary effect of the teamwork exercise is to know each other, to make friends, to train empathy (or the sense of the other), to learn how to coordinate each other.
Course syllabus and organization

Single session

Lesson period
First semester
Course syllabus
The course covers three types of students:
1. those who (in the future) intend to carry out (personally) empirical research of any kind;
2. those who only wish to acquire the ability to analyze and critically evaluate the results of an empirical research (as it appears in books and scientific journals or in mass media);
3. those who want to acquire tools that allow (as a client) to interact with methodological competence with research institutes and agencies.

Some types of these empirical researches are: customer satisfaction, organizational analysis, analysis of the business climate, evaluation research, feasibility studies, personnel research and selection, work flow analysis, the assessment of the potential of human resources (empowerment), etc.
Since the data is not given but constructed by the researcher, the course aims to introduce students to the logic that guides the research design, implementation and critical analysis of empirical research. The program is divided into three parts:
a) learning the language of social research with an overview of the main social research methods and techniques, including
b) the survey (poll) and surveys (survey),
c) qualitative research (discursive interview, focus group and ethnography).

During the course, for attending students, there will be 3 exercises (2 in small groups and 1 individual). In each of them, they will practice a specific research method, suitable to be implemented both in private organizations and public institutions.
Prerequisites for admission
Teaching methods
· Frontal lessons
· Classroom discussions
· teamwork
· Field practice
Teaching Resources
Gobo G. and Mauceri S. (2014), Constructing Survey Data. An interactional approach, London: Sage.

Silverman David (2014), Interpreting Qualitative Data. A guide to the principles of qualitative research, Sage: London, FIFTH EDITION.
Assessment methods and Criteria
· The exam will consist (for all, both attending and non-attending) of a WRITTEN proof, with 1 question for each of the 4 texts.
· The duration of the test will be 80 minutes (20 minutes per question).
· To pass the exam, you must obtain the sufficiency in whole four questions.
· For those not attending, the final grade will be the product of the mean of the marks obtained in each question.
· For attending students (i.e. those who, after having attended at least to 80% of the lessons, will have carried out the three teamwork exercises), the score resulting from the three exercises will be added to the mark of the written test.
Unita' didattica A
SPS/07 - GENERAL SOCIOLOGY - University credits: 3
Lessons: 20 hours
Unita' didattica B
SPS/07 - GENERAL SOCIOLOGY - University credits: 3
Lessons: 20 hours
Unita' didattica C
SPS/07 - GENERAL SOCIOLOGY - University credits: 3
Lessons: 20 hours
Educational website(s)
every Wednesday from 5pm to 8pm: contact giampietro.gobo@unimi.it for an online colloquium, via Microsoft Teams
online, on Microsoft Teams