Entering the field: ethical and methodological reflections
Periodo di svolgimento
Info sul corso
Suggested to 2nd year students of the PhD Programmes in "Political Science and Sociology and in "Transnational Governance"
Optional for the 4th and 5th year students of the MA Programme in "Political and Social Sciences"
The goal of this seminar is to provide 2nd year PhD students with a space for discussion, elaboration and learning regarding the planning and implementation of their fieldwork. Similarly to what the “After fieldwork” seminar does for the latter stage of the PhD, this seminar aims at discussing how to prepare and conduct qualitative fieldwork. The course aims at providing PhD students in the early stages of their fieldwork with ethical and methodological guidelines and knowledge about approaches and practices to guide their research on the field.
The first 10 hours of the seminar hours will be dedicated to methodological reflections on qualitative interviewing, ethnography/participant observation and other field-based methods, discussing how to negotiate access to the field, how to sample participants, how to deal with anonymity and informed consent, and so on. The remaining 10 hours will be dedicated to ethics and risk management in qualitative research. In these hands-on sessions, students will learn to develop an ethical self-assessment, draft an informed consent form, elaborate a risk assessment, and reflect upon potential mitigation strategies to face challenges stemming from fieldwork. The structure of the seminar will be based on the attendee’s own research work and needs, providing the possibility to discuss both with the two teachers and with colleagues, the ethical and methodological implications of their planned fieldwork.
The course will have a mixed structure, keeping together three different elements: discussion on theoretical and empirical research on the ethical and methodological implications of qualitative fieldwork, hands-on instructions on how to deal with specific issues before and during the fieldwork, and discussion of the PhD students’ plans regarding their own fieldwork. To that end, active participation is required. PhD candidates interested in taking part in the course are invited to send a short text (max 1500 words) which elucidates the ethical dilemmas, security concerns and methodological issues they expect to encounter in their doctoral research. This is necessary to adjust the course to the needs of participants. Attendees are expected to complete the readings ahead of the course, engage in active discussion during each session, and participate in both the writing phase and collective discussion in class. Sessions 1 and 2 will be mostly introductory and theoretical, sessions 3 and 4 will be based on the presentation and discussion of fieldwork-related issues regarding each student’s project, while sessions 5 to 8 will be mixed.
PhD students will be evaluated based on their active participation in class, and the professors will determine whether they have passed or failed the course. PhD students who opt to write a term paper for this course should consult the professor in advance and agree on a topic.
1) Introduction to field research: ethnography
Thursday January 11th, 2024, Simone del Pollaiolo room, 2pm-4pm
Bernhard, Russell H. (2006). Research Methods in Anthropology. Qualitative and Quantitative Approaches (4th ed.) (Lanham/New York: Altamira Press); Chapter 13: Participant Observation.
Jensen, K., & Auyero, J. (2019). Teaching and Learning the Craft: The Construction of Ethnographic Objects. Research in Urban Sociology, 69–87.
2) Introduction to field research: qualitative interviews
Thursday January 18th, 2024, Simone del Pollaiolo room, 2pm-4pm
Blee, K. M. and Taylor V. (2002) “Semi - Structured Interviewing in Social Movement Research” in B. Klandermans and S. Staggenborg (eds), Methods of Social Movement Research. University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis, pp. 92 – 117.
Bosi, L. (2022) “Life-history interviews” in Marco Giugni and Maria Grasso (eds.) Oxford Handbook of Political Participation. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 284-297.
3) Preparing for fieldwork: 1st part (discussion)
Thursday January 25th, 2024, Simone del Pollaiolo room, 2pm-5pm
4) Preparing for fieldwork: 2nd part (discussion)
Thursday February 1st, 2024, Simone del Pollaiolo room, 2pm-5pm
5) Power and ethics in social sciences: ethical guidelines for research
Thursday February 8th, 2024, Simone del Pollaiolo room, 2pm-5pm
Milan, S. (2014) “The ethics of social movement research” in della Porta (ed) Methodological Practices in Social Movement Research, Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 446-464
Piccio, D. R., and A. Mattoni. 2019. “Ethics in Political Science Research.” in R. Iphofen Handbook of Research Ethics and Scientific Integrity, Cham: Springer International Publishing, pp. 873-889
Jordan, J. and Moser., S. (2020) “Researching migrants in informal transit camps along the Balkan Route: Reflections on volunteer activism, access, and reciprocity” Area 52 (3) pp. 566-574
6) How to prepare an ethical self-assessment
Thursday February 15th, 2024, Simone del Pollaiolo room, 2pm-4pm
European Commission (2021) How to complete your ethics self-assessment guide https://ec.europa.eu/info/funding-tenders/opportunities/docs/2021-2027/common/guidance/how-to-complete-your-ethics-self-assessment_en.pdf
European Commission (2021) Ethics in Social Sciences and Humanities https://ec.europa.eu/info/funding-tenders/opportunities/docs/2021-2027/horizon/guidance/ethics-in-social-science-and-humanities_he_en.pdf
7) Informed Consent Form: when to use it and how to elaborate it
Thursday February 22nd, 2024, Simone del Pollaiolo room, 10am-1pm
Iphofen, R. (2019) “Key topics in research ethics” in R. Iphofen Handbook of Research Ethics and Scientific Integrity. Cham: Springer International Publishing, pp. 203-212
Sutrop M. and Louk, K. 2019. “Informed Consent and Ethical Research” in R. Iphofen Handbook of Research Ethics and Scientific Integrity. Cham: Springer International Publishing, pp. 213-232
8) Risk management and mitigation strategies: How to prepare and use risk assessments
Thursday February 29th, 2024, Simone del Pollaiolo room, 10am-12pm
Lefebvre, S., Masterson D.T.R, and Francesco Strazzari. 2020. Chapter 2: “Before the field”, in Grimm, J., Koehler, K., Lust, E. M., Saliba, I., & Schierenbeck, I. Safer field research in the social sciences: A guide to human and digital security in hostile environments. Sage, pp. 15-38Beals E., Osama D. and Alessandra Russo. 2020. Chapter 3. “In the field”, in Grimm, J., Koehler, K., Lust, E. M., Saliba, I., & Schierenbeck, I. Safer field research in the social sciences: A guide to human and digital security in hostile environments. Sage, pp. 39-68
This syllabus may be subjected to changes until the beginning of the course. This version was uploaded on September 30th, 2023.
By the end of the seminar, students will have developed the necessary ethical and methodological tool to approach qualitative fieldwork.