84267 - Methodologies of Ethnographic Research (LM)

Course Unit Page


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

Quality education Gender equality Reduced inequalities Sustainable cities

Academic Year 2021/2022

Learning outcomes

At the end of the course, students will know the main methodologies of ethnographic research; they will be able to elaborate autonomous projects and to identify the most suitable methods for every specific research context; they will have acquired the skills to communicate research results effectively.

Course contents

In order to deal with ethnographic work (independent or on commission), in addition to a solid base of theoretical competences, both knowledge of the "tools of the trade" and the ability to interact effectively with individuals and institutions are indispensable. During the course, after an opening section dedicated to an in-depth theoretical study of research methodologies, the basic tools to start fieldwork will be illustrated (drafting of a project, bibliographic research, modalities of interaction with research subjects, ethical aspects, etc.). Subsequently, some privileged methods of investigation will be proposed, with particular focus on interviews (objectives, ethical aspects, positioning, contact with the interviewee, data card).

Attending students will be able, if they wish, to carry out an interview (on a topic agreed with the teacher), and will have the opportunity to discuss the progress of their work in the classroom with colleagues and with the teacher. Students will also be able to carry out, again if they wish, in-depth group work on a topic related to research methodologies and will have the opportunity to illustrate it to their colleagues in class at the end of the course.

Teaching is carried out in a single undivided course.

The first thirty hours of the course will be co-taught with Prof. Roberta Bonetti (Anthropology of Education). The co-teaching method is part of a pilot experiment on the subject of learning and is itself the subject of reflection and research shared with the students.


Attending and non attending students:

  1. Pennacini, C. (a cura di), La ricerca sul campo in antropologia. Oggetti e metodi, Roma, Carocci, 2010
  2. Grilli, S., Antropologia delle famiglie contemporanee, Roma, Carocci, 2019
  3. Pistacchi M. (a cura di), Vive voci. L’intervista come fonte di documentazione, Roma, Donzelli, 2010
  4. Natali, C., “The anthropological recorded interview. Methodological issues and ethnographic examples”, in S. Marchignoli (ed.) 2018, Teaching and University Internazionalization: The E-QUAL Project, Bologna, Bonomo, pp. 117-152 (available on AlmaRE)
  5. Bardasi, N. e Natali, C. (eds.), Io a loro ho cercato di spiegare che è una storia complicata la nostra. Voci, esperienze, testimonianze sulla disabilità all'Università di Bologna, Bologna, Bononia University Press, 2018 (pp. 9-16 e 153-168) (available on the site https://site.unibo.it/real-lab) (n.b.: the first interview question is in response to an editorial requirement, and does not represent an example of a "first question" for interviews, see the article in point 4 of the bibliography).
The programme for non-attending students doesn't require any additional material because non-attendance implies a greater amount of individual studying.

Teaching methods

The course involves lectures on theoretical approaches, interactive lessons in which the research methodologies are discussed, group work, interviews, presentations and group discussions on the results achieved.

Assessment methods

Assessment is carried out through an online oral exam, which is conducted online, in which students are requested to show deep knowledge of the bibliography, critical analytic skills and appropriate linguistic communicative ability.

 Attending students: the evaluation will also take into account any interviews or group work carried out on a topic related to research methodologies. Such interviews and group work do not replace the oral exam, but rather supplement it.

The mark will be assigned taking into account the following evaluation levels:

30 cum laude: excellent performance showing soundness of knowledge, rich discursive articulation and appropriate expression;

30: very good performance, complete and appropriate knowledge, well articulated and appropriately expressed;

29-27: good performance, more than satisfactory knowledge, well-expressed;

26-24: standard performance, essential knowledge, but not comprehensive and/or not always correctly expressed;

23-21: sufficient performance, general but superficial knowledge, often inappropriately expressed showing confused articulation;

20-18: poor performance, with just acceptable expression and articulation with significant gaps;

<18: Insufficient performance, absent or very incomplete knowledge, lack of orientation in the discipline.

Teaching tools

Attending students, from 10 January, are kindly invited to subscribe to the following mailing list in order to receive information about possible variations in lecture timetable and rooms: cristiana.natali.Metodologie-ricerca-etnografica.

Office hours

See the website of Cristiana Natali