29218 - Methods and Techniques of Social Research

Course Unit Page


This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.

No poverty Sustainable cities

Academic Year 2021/2022

Learning outcomes

At the end of the course, the student: - has the basic knowledge on the methods and techniques of social research; - is able to distinguish the different phases of sociological research on the territory; - knows the characteristics of the main available sources of information, both quantitative and qualitative; - knows and are able to apply methods of analysis and reading of the needs of the territory.

Course contents

The course is organized in blended modality. The number of students allowed in class is determined on the basis of class capacity and by the health and safety provisions that deal with the pandemic emergency. In case more students want to attend classes in presence than permitted by the rules, a system of shifts will be organized so to allow students to participate. Regardless of the health-related conditions and the specific organization of the course, students will be able to follow the lessons of the entire course remotely on MS TEAMS.


The course, divided into two parts, will highlight and discuss the relevance of the knowledge of techniques and methods of social research on the territory in order to read both the needs arising within the territory and the resources and social capital offered by the local context. The relevance of the knowledge of the socio-territorial context in the design of a social intervention will be emphasized.

The first part of the course will show how to project the drawing of empiric research pointing out the most important phases of any research and with particular attention to the origin of information, using the study of M.L. Small on a poor neighbourhood in Boston as a reference. The course will explain the difference between direct and indirect, quantitative and qualitative sources. Subsequently the concept of indicator and index, will be treated with particular attention, futhermore the course will focus on costruction of questionnaries and first steps of data processing.

In the second Part, classic sociological researches will be introduced. Particular attention will be paid to qualitative methods and tecniques: participing observation, biographic approach, life history.



M. Castrignano', voci: "Disegno della ricerca empirica", "Intervista e questionario", "Fonti dell'informazione", "Elaborazione dell'informazione"; G. Gasperoni voci: "Indicatore", "Campione", "Relazioni tra variabili" in P. Guidicini, M.La Rosa, G.Scida' , (a cura di), Enciclopedia tematica aperta Sociologia, Jaca Book, Milano, 1997;

A. Marradi, Metodologia delle scienze sociali, Il Mulino, Bologna, 2007, (capp. 5, 6, 7, 8,);

J. Madge, Lo sviluppo dei metodi di ricerca empirica in sociologia, Il Mulino, Bologna, 1966 (capp.I, II, III e VI)

M. L. Small, Villa Victoria. Poverta' e capitale sociale in un quartiere di Boston, FrancoAngeli, Milano, 2011

Teaching methods

frontal lessons

Assessment methods

A final oral exam that consists in a conversation about the texts previously indicated. The oral test want to assess the learning of methodology of social research and technique contents discussed during the course. Appropriate language with the specific nature of the discipline, and the ability to deepen and put into connection with each other the main issues addressed in the course will result in assessments of excellence. Correct language, mnemonic knowledge of contents and partial ability to link the themes covered will produce discrete valuations. Inappropriate language, the presence of some training gaps but achieving a minimal body of knowledge on the topics covered will result in assessments sufficient. Lack of guidance within the themes addressed in the exam readings, inappropriate language, and training gaps will result in negative evaluations.

Teaching tools

Powerpoint presentations

Office hours

See the website of Marco Castrignanò

See the website of Alessandra Landi