Methodologies for the Social Sciences I
Period of duration of course
Compulsory for the 1st year students of the PhD Programme in "Political Science and Sociology"
Compuslory for the 1st year students of the PhD Programme in "Transnational Governance"
The aim of this course is to discuss main approaches to political science and sociology, the principal steps in designing research, and some methods for data collection. In this sense, it aims at introducing all main choices that needs to be addressed in the preparation of the April prospectus.
Taking into account the diverse national and disciplinary background of first year research, the seminar attempts to develop some common knowledge, without losing the richness of plurality. The seminar as a whole, as well as the individual sessions, aim at critically contrasting the advantages as well as problems of the various strategies in the construction of scientific knowledge.
In the second part, some specific research designs will be presented and researchers will be asked to present their own work in progress within chosen sessions.
Session 1. A pluralist perspective: An introduction
November 6, 2-5pm
This session introduces some most important debates related to ontologies, epistemologies and methodologies in the social sciences, with attention to the interactions between the three. A pluralist perspective is then discussed.
Chapter 1. Introduction by Donatella Della Porta and Michael Keating
Chapter 2. How Many Approaches in the Social Sciences? An Epistemological Introduction, by
Donatella Della Porta and Michael Keating
Session 2. Concepts, theories and case-selection within a pluralist perspective
November 13, 2-5pm
This session introduces some main steps in the development of a research design, moving from the research question to theoretical grounding and conceptualization as well as case selection and methods choices.
Chapter 4. Causal Explanation, by Adrienne Héritier
Chapter 10. Concepts and Concept Formation, by Peter Mair
Chapter 11. Comparative Analysis: Case-Oriented versus Variable-Oriented Research, by Donatella della Porta
Session 3. Research designs in a pluralist perspective
November 20, 2-4pm
Chapter 15. The Design of Social and Political Research, by Philippe Schmitter
Chapter 16. Comparing Methods and Approaches. Some Concluding Remarks, by Donatella della Porta and Michael Keating
Session 4. Norms and ethics in research (with Hans-Joerg Trenz)
November 20, 4-6pm
This session addresses some main ethical concerns in empirical research addressing ethical dilemmas during field work, as well as the public use of research results.
Chapter 3. Normative Theory and Empirical Research by Rainer Bauböck
Stefania Milan, The ethics of social movement research, in D. della Porta (ed.), Methodological Practices in Social Movement Research, Oxford University press.
Second part: 10 hours
In the second part, PhD students will present their own work in progress with the support of slides: each PhD student will be allocated a time slot of 45 minutes that will include a maximum of 15 minutes presentation and 30 minutes of in-class discussion and feedback by the instructor (Lorenzo Bosi and Hans-Jorg Trenz) and their colleagues.
Session 4. Presentations and discussion of research projects
13 December, 10-13 and 15-18
Session 5. Presentations and discussion of research projects
15 December, 9-13
The seminar stems from SPS department’s commitment to methodological pluralism and informed debate. Specifically its aims are:
- To provide an overview of approaches in the social sciences, in order to help students to choose their own approach for the thesis, to justify this approach, and to situate it within the discipline;
- To ensure that PhD graduates become fully literate social scientists, able to read and understand work written within different traditions and approaches;
- To introduce researchers to the main issues of debate and contention in the methodology of social sciences and to demystify some of this debate, identifying commonalities, historic continuities, and genuine differences;
- To give first year researchers a common experience and socialization and to encourage them to discuss their own work across sub-disciplines and methodological approaches.