78160 - Methodology of Political and Social Research (A-E)

Academic Year 2023/2024

  • Moduli: Paola Bordandini (Modulo A-E ) Paola Bordandini (Modulo Gr1-2) Andrea Zoboli (Modulo Gr3-4) Paola Bordandini (Modulo D.Ass)
  • Teaching Mode: Traditional lectures (Modulo A-E ) Traditional lectures (Modulo Gr1-2) Traditional lectures (Modulo Gr3-4) Traditional lectures (Modulo D.Ass)
  • Campus: Bologna
  • Corso: First cycle degree programme (L) in Political, Social and International Sciences (cod. 8853)

Learning outcomes

The course provides an introduction to the major methodological problems faced by students of political and social sciences. It is designed to acquaint students with the opportunities and limits of data-gathering and data-analysing techniques. The objectives are to prevent mechanical, non-critical use of these techniques and to make students aware of the special nature of the subjects of social science analysis: humans, their symbols, values and institutions.

Course contents

The aim of the course is to make students aware of the potential and limits of a wide range of data collection and analysis techniques (e.g. questionnaires, data matrix construction, statistical procedures), increasingly used in political and social sciences and marketing. Students are taught to avoid acritical, mechanical use of these tools and to be aware of the special nature of the study subjects: humans, their symbols, values and institutions.

The first part of the course begins with a study of the epistemological and gnoseological elements of human sciences: the concept of concept, the differences between concepts and propositions, the distinction between physical sciences and social sciences. The second part deals with the logic of social research and survey design: unity of analysis, variables, indicators, sampling procedures and data-matrix construction. The third part focuses on the principles of statistical analysis, ranging from the function of univariate analysis to the logic of multivariate analysis.

The course is organised roughly as follows:

Lectures 10 hours: Introduction – Social science research: different approaches and techniques. 

Seminars 4 hours: Exercises on quantitative and qualitative interviews

Lectures 12 hours: Data-matrix construction: from objects to cases and from properties to variables. Concepts and indicators.

Seminars 6 hours: Exercises on indicators, operational definitions and questionnaire questions

Lectures 10 hours: Uni- and bivariate analysis

Seminars 4 hours: Working groups on research design.

Once the last group of lectures is underway, students will be able to attend three workshops (9 hours) on data analysis using STATA. Attendance of the workshops will be necessary to carry out the last midterm test


Mandatory readings:

1) A. MARRADI (2007), Metodologia delle scienze sociali. Bologna: Il Mulino (except chapters 2 and 10).

2) P. CORBETTA (2014), Metodologia e tecniche della ricerca sociale, Bologna: Il Mulino, chapters 2 (only 2.3 and 2.4) and 11

3) Lecture notes on data analysis (univariate techniques, cross tabulation, regression and correlation, analysis of variance) are available online.

4) One of the following books:

- P. BORDANDINI and R. CARTOCCI (2009), Cipolle a colazione. Bologna: Il Mulino

- P. BORDANDINI and R. CARTOCCI (2020), Cooperazione e cooperatori nell'Italia del risentimento. Bologna: Il Mulino

- R. CARTOCCI (2007), Le mappe del tesoro. Bologna: Il Mulino

- R. CARTOCCI (2011), Geografia dell'Italia cattolica. Bologna: Il Mulino

Further readings:

P. CORBETTA (2014), Metodologia e tecniche della ricerca sociale, Bologna, Il Mulino. Capitoli 5, 7, 13 e 14

Marradi (1995): Esperimento, associazione, insieme non standard, nel seguente sito: https://www.academia.edu/2594303/Esperimento_associazione_insieme_non_standard

Some empirical studies:

P. BORDANDINI e R. CARTOCCI (2020), Cooperazione e cooperatori nell' Italia del risentimento, Bologna, Il Mulino

E. CELLINI, L. BRUSCAGLIONI, B. SARACINO (2016), Dentro i quartieri di edilizia residenziale pubblica. Una ricerca etnografica per studiare la qualità dell’abitare, Milano, Guerini

G. DI FEDERICO e M. SAPIGNOLI (2014), I diritti della difesa nel processo penale e la riforma della giustizia. Le esperienze di 1.265 avvocati penalisti, Padova, Cedam

F. SANTANGELO (2017), La violenza nelle relazioni intime, Milano, Franco Angeli

The teacher reserves the right to modify the list of reading matter before lectures begin.

Teaching methods

Lectures and seminars, exercises and discussion.

Assessment methods

In the exam sessions at the end of the course and in the rest of the academic year, the oral exam will focus on the mandatory readings.

Attending students will be able to participate in an alternative assessment procedure based on three midterm tests: two multiple-choice tests (70% of the evaluation) and one group presentation (30% of the evaluation).

Students will be attending if they have participated in all three tests and have not accumulated more than two absences during the seminars and one absence during the workshops.

Teaching tools

Students will be provided with the slides used by the teacher during the course and support materials for exercises and discussion.

The teaching resources will be uploaded to https://virtuale.unibo.it 

It is advisable to attend the workshops with a laptop on which the STATA software has been installed. The licence details will be provided during the course.

Office hours

See the website of Paola Bordandini

See the website of Andrea Zoboli