Research design in Cultural Sociology

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Optional for the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th year students of the PhD Programme in "Political Science and Sociology"

Optional for the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th year students of the PhD Programme in "Transnational Governance"


In this intensive 20-hour-long research design colloquium, doctoral students in their first, second and third year, whose dissertations include media, communication and sociology of culture components present a chapter in progress of their dissertation and receive feedback from peers and instructors. Organized in three daylong meetings, the colloquium allocates two respondents per student, who receive extensive feedback for approximately 45 minutes each. Each time slot is divided in three subsections: students present their research project for 8 minutes, respondents have 7 minutes each to provide feedback, and the remaining time is devoted to an open discussion with the instructors and the rest of the student body. Students are required to upload their materials at least one week in advance. Whereas first-year students upload a research proposal, second- and third-year students upload a chapter in progress (or a related article) and a five-page summary of their dissertation project.


Educational aims

The aim is to provide a common space to the PhD students of the first three years, working on comparative politics, political communication and cultural studies, to present and discuss the development of their thesis projects to an audience made of professors, post-doctoral fellows as well as of their peers. Besides improving reciprocal knowledge and potential networking, the research design course aims at discussing, with reference to the specific projects, the main steps in the development of a research design: from the selection of the central research questions, to their theoretical framing, the case selection, the choice of the empirical methods of investigation, the challenges of fieldwork, and the analysis and presentation of the results. Involving participants at different stages of their academic experiences, the seminar also offers the opportunity to develop PhD’s skills in not only discussing, but also constructively contributing to each other research, both during the sessions and in successive informal, face-to-face or small groups, occasions, that are in part already ongoing and that we hope to stimulate further.