Sociology and qualitative methods

A.Y. 2019/2020
Overall hours
Learning objectives
The course aims to provide students with knowledge about sociology and research methods, and to understand their relevance in the different fields of philosophy and other disciplines: from politics to social engineering; from human resources management to robotics; from anthropology to economics; from philosophical counseling to market and applied research.
Hence, the course delivers knowledge about the main theories, their epistemological and methodological features, and the essential bibliographic tools of the discipline, necessary to understand and analyze social situations, group interactions, dyadic relationships, and usable in different realms and professional activities: training, social research, market research, philosophical, entrepreneurial and business consulting.
Expected learning outcomes
Knowledge and understanding
- knowledge of the relationship between sociology and research methods;
- understanding the usefulness of sociology in the different fields of philosophy, humanities and applied research;
- knowledge of the main theories, their epistemological and methodological features, and the bibliographic essential tools of the discipline, necessary to understand and analyze social situations, group interactions, dyadic relationships;
- to know the interactional approach and the ethnographic method.

Applied knowledge and understanding
- capacity to approach general issues (relevant to the different fields of application of the discipline) through an appropriate methodological perspective, in order to design an empirical research;
- to apply (through teamworks of attending students) a specific method (the ethnographic one), suitable for studying both private organizations and public institution.

Autonomy of judgment
- to develop skills that allow individual students, based on their theoretical and personal preferences, to conduct a research considering the constraints, resources and opportunities existing in each setting observed.

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
Sociology is the scientific study of society. It is a social science that studies the phenomena of human societies, with the aim of understanding social action (and investigating its causes and effects) in relation to the contexts, individuals and the social groups. The dialogue between sociology and philosophy has developed on various fronts: analytical philosophy and the philosophy of language; epistemology and the philosophy of science; phenomenology, hermeneutics and political philosophy.
The initial lessons of the course are devoted to an introduction to sociology and the presentation of some interactionist (or microsociological) approaches, such as Symbolic Interactionism, Durkheimian structuralism (Goffman), Ethnomethodology.
Then we will enter the methodological part, which will focus on the language of social research (concepts, terms and referents, hypotheses and theories, indicators, variables and indexes, research design, sampling, association, cause and effect relations, understanding, description and explanation of a social phenomenon).
Finally, three research methods and techniques (ethnography, discursive interview, focus group) will be presented among the most used in qualitative social research. Generally speaking, "qualitative research" is defined as the set of methods that are not part of the measuring paradigm.
If they wish, attending students will be able to go deeper into the ethnographic method through a practical teamwork exercise, a sort of first socialization to empirical research to capture the experience of doing research.
Prerequisites for admission
Teaching methods
Teaching methods:
· Frontal lessons
· Classroom discussions
· teamwork
· Field practice
Teaching Resources
Silverman, David (2015), Interpreting Qualitative Data, London: Sage, fifth edition

Gobo, Giampietro e Molle, Andrea (2016) Doing Ethnography, London: Sage
Assessment methods and Criteria
The exam will consist of a WRITTEN proof, with 1 question for each text of the 2 texts.
The duration of the test will last 90 minutes (then 45 minutes per question).
To pass the exam, you must obtain the sufficiency in both 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 al least to the 80% of the lessons, will have carried out the exercise) the score resulting from the exercise 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
every Wednesday from 5pm to 8pm: contact for an online colloquium, via Microsoft Teams
online, on Microsoft Teams