Qualitative research in social organization

A.Y. 2020/2021
Overall hours
Learning objectives
The module provides students with the theoretical and methodological competencies necessary to analyse social organisations with qualitative research methods.
One of the main objectives of the module is to understand the challenges and complexities associated with qualitative research, and to offer students the opportunity to learn an appropriate use of qualitative research methods in order to analyse, with a cultural approach, both organisations and social phenomena. In particular, the course aims to prepare students for the conduct of a research exercise (through participant observation or face-to-face interviews) and the subsequent presentation of the empirical material collected. More generally, the module aims to develop the skills that allow students to define research objectives, to autonomously identify research questions, and to choose consistent methodological approaches and techniques for the analysis of specific organisational and social processes. For this purpose, the main methods of data collection - interviews, participant observation, focus groups - and the main ethical issues in carrying out qualitative research will be illustrated. These are further developed through lectures supported by slides and video-recorded lessons, and by a research exercise to be conducted by students.
Consistently with the general objectives of the Degree in which it is included, the course of Qualitative research in social organisations aims to provide students with theoretical and methodological competences for analysing organisational and social contexts in contemporary society.
Expected learning outcomes
At the end of the course Qualitative research in social organisations, students are expected to have acquired competences and skills related to: (i) the main epistemological perspectives underlying qualitative research; (ii) the main phases of an empirical research in social organisations; (iii) the choice and use of a methodological approach and of research techniques to study organisational and social contexts. The expected learning outcomes also include the acquisition of adequate communication skills, particularly regarding the use of the specific language relating to the theoretical and methodological aspects of a cultural approach to the study of organisations. These skills will also be developed through the independent work of students and the writing of a written essay, in which the ability to argue will be tested both with regard to the interpretation of the organisational and social phenomena discussed during the lectures, and with regard to the choice of research tools learned. The final assessment aims to verify the expected learning outcomes in relation to the process of knowledge transfer and the ability to critically discuss concepts, theoretical and methodological perspectives regarding the topic of qualitative research in social organisations as illustrated during the course.
Course syllabus and organization

Single session

Lesson period
First trimester
The course is scheduled for the first trimester. In agreement with the organisation of the SPES courses within the current health situation, the lectures will be recorded and held in asynchronous mode. The slides with audio commentary and videos of the lectures will be made available on the Ariel page of the course. Due to the health emergency, the assessment modalities have been modified (from written in the presence to the writing of a written essay at a distance). Since the course is held in asynchronous mode, in this edition there are no differences between attending and non-attending students. Students are advised to always check the alerts on the Ariel site of the course.
Course syllabus
The course provides students with the theoretical and methodological competencies necessary to analyse social organisations with qualitative research methods. The lectures are organised in three parts for a total of 6 credits. The first part of the course deals with the construction of a qualitative research design: from the elaboration of the research question to the choice of cases and methods. The second part illustrates the main qualitative research methods: the qualitative interview, the ethnographic method and the focus group. The last part of the course proposes some possible paths of research, also through the discussion of empirical researches conducted in different organisational and social contexts. A research exercise is also planned, with the aim of understanding the main phases of a research: the design of the study, the construction of the research tools, the field work and the presentation of the collected empirical data.
Prerequisites for admission
There are no requirements for prior knowledge and skills.
Teaching methods
The lectures are recorded and held in asynchronous mode. Each week slides with audio commentary or videos of the lectures will be made available on the Ariel page of the course. The intervention of external researchers is foreseen with the aim of providing students with examples of qualitative research recently carried out within organisational and social contexts. It is also planned to conduct a research exercise on a topic chosen by the students, who will illustrate the addressed research question, the selected empirical context and the research technique they decided to adopt.
Teaching Resources
- Cardano, M. (2011). La ricerca qualitativa. Bologna: Il Mulino (cap. 1 - La ricerca qualitativa; cap. 2 - Il disegno della ricerca qualitativa; cap. 4 - L'intervista discorsiva; cap. 5 - Il focus group).

- Poggio, B. (2004). Mi racconti una storia?: il metodo narrativo nelle scienze sociali. Roma: Carocci (cap. 4 - L'apprendimento come pratica narrativa; cap. 5 - Narrare nelle organizzazioni; cap. 7 - Esempi di ricerca).

- Bruni, A. (2010). Etnografia Organizzativa. In Fabbri, T. (ed.) Organizzazione: concetti e metodi. Roma: Carocci, pp. 455-468.

- Gherardi, S., Murgia, A., Poggio, B. (2011). Donne, genere e lavoro, in G. Gosetti (ed.) Lavoro e lavori. Strumenti per comprendere il cambiamento. Milano: Franco Angeli, pp. 164-176.
Assessment methods and Criteria
Achievement for the course will be assessed by a written essay (10 pages - font Times New Roman 12; line spacing 1.5) in accordance with the learning outcomes and will involve the achievement of the students in:
- Evidencing the ability and understanding needed to illustrate the epistemological and methodological approaches discussed in the lectures;
- Demonstrating the ability to critically engage with a research exercise, aimed at learning how to conduct qualitative research in organisational and social contexts.
The text must be composed of four parts: 1) illustration of the topic to be addressed and the research question to be answered; 2) description of the empirical context in which it was carried out and of the criteria for choosing the interviewees; 3) argumentation of the research method used; 4) presentation of the main findings of the research exercise. Finally, it should include: the consulted bibliography; the used interview guide; the consent form.
The written essay should be delivered by email to the teacher and the course assistant on the day of the assessment. The first assessment takes place immediately after the end of the course.
SPS/07 - GENERAL SOCIOLOGY - University credits: 6
Lessons: 40 hours
Professor: Murgia Annalisa
Wednesday 11.00-14.00
Please, get in touch via email to schedule a meeting