Socioanthropological studies for integration and social security
Study-unit Code
In all curricula
Massimiliano Minelli
  • Massimiliano Minelli
  • 36 ore - Massimiliano Minelli
Course Regulation
Coorte 2021
Academic discipline
Type of study-unit
Obbligatorio (Required)
Type of learning activities
Attività formativa monodisciplinare
Language of instruction
The course will examine the main strategies of qualitative social research, promoting the development of specific skills concerning methods and techniques of ethnography. Ethnography, considered as a "theoretical-practice", is examined in its main methodological steps: design, observation, field notes and diary, interviews, data analysis and narratives in the construction of the monographic text, Grounded Theory, case studies and extended case method.
Reference texts
- Cappelletto F. (Ed.), Vivere l'etnografia, Seid Editori, Firenze, 2009.
(or as suggested alternative: Pavanello M., Fare antropologia. Metodi per la ricerca etnografica, Zanichelli, Bologna, 2010).
- Tarozzi M. Che cos’è la grounded theory, Carocci, Roma, 2008.

One of the following books:
- Bourgois P. - Schoenberg J., Reietti e fuorilegge. Antropologia della violenza nella metropoli americana, DeriveApprodi, Roma, 2011.
- Fassin D., La forza dell'ordine. Antropologia della polizia nelle periferie urbane, Edizioni La Linea, Bologna, 2013.
- Taussig M., Cocaina. Per un'antropologia della polvere bianca, Paravia Bruno Mondadori Editori, Milano, 2005.
- Taussig M., Il diavolo e il feticismo della merce, DeriveApprodi, Roma, 2017.

Texts in English as suggested alternatives:
Atkinson P. - Coffey A. - Delamont S. - Lofland J. - Lofland L. (Eds.) Handbook of ethnography, Sage Publications, Los Angeles - London - New Delhi - Singapore, 2007.

And a text chosen from the following:
Biehl J., Vita: a life in a Zone of social abandonment , University of California Press, Berkeley, 2005.
Bourgois P. - Schonberg J., Righteous dopefiend. Homelessness, addiction, and poverty in urban America, University of California Press, Berkeley - Los Angeles, 2009.
Fassin D., Enforcing Order: An Ethnography of Urban Policing, Polity Press, Cambridge, 2013.
Educational objectives
This teaching provides the basic knowledge on qualitative research, and promotes the acquisition of epistemological and methodological skills in the area of ethnography. Teaching is aimed at the development of research projects, with a high degree of autonomy and competence. The students will acquire the following main skills: knowledge of the qualitative methods; knowledge of the relationship between anthropology, sociology and ethnographic research; knowledge of the tools and techniques for the interpretation of the socio-cultural processes. The main skills that allow to apply the acquired knowledge are: ability to define the research problem and to adopt effective and innovative methodological choices; ability in data analysis and reporting research results; ability to effectively combine socio-anthropological interpretation and social intervention, in dialogue with social actors.

In order to be able to understand and to tackle the course, which has a critical and reflexive orientation toward the field research, the student must have basic knowledge concerning the theories of social sciences and the history of cultural anthropology. This precondition is valid both for attending or not attending students.
Teaching methods
The course is organized as follows:
- lecturers on all subjects of the course;
- laboratory activities and discussion groups;
- ethnographic video-materials that will complement the lectures; - ethnography in urban area and discussion of the problems tackled during different phases of investigation: to this end, it will be created a research team composed by the course participants.
Other information
During the course, in addition to research materials and to the projection of ethnographic audiovisuals, will be provided more bibliographic information. Not attending students are warmly recommended to contact the teacher in office hours, in order to speak about the exam program.
Learning verification modality

Oral examination consisting in a discussion-interview on the topics covered during the lectures and the issues present in recommended texts. Attending students will integrate the oral examination with a discussion of a written paper, in which the candidate will present and interpret the ethnographic data produced during the course. The acquired skill in ethnographic writing, essential for training in qualitative research methodology, is evaluated as exemption from part of the overall teaching load. The test aims to ensuring the levels of knowledge and understanding, as well as synthesis and aptitude for critical analysis of the ethnographic data achieved by the student. Moreover, the interview will check that the student is able to communicate with method, property of language and of exposure. The duration of the test varies depending on the performance of the test itself and begins, usually, with a question concerning the fieldwork-experiences acquired by the student during the course.
Extended program
The course will examine the main strategies of qualitative social research, promoting the development of specific skills concerning methods and techniques of ethnography. Ethnography, considered as a "theoretical-practice", is examined in its main steps of design, investigation and interpretation, during the field work. The first part of the course outlines a framework of the qualitative research in social sciences, giving particular attention to the fieldwork experience: especially its interactive, processual and reflexive features. It is proposed an exploration about ethnography through an analysis of research methods and forms of inscription in the making of fieldwork. Specific issues will be considered: the relations between “construction of the object” and “definition of the field”, developing the “research design”. In this way, the main steps of ethnographic research will be reviewed: the definition of the problem, the research design, access to the field and ethnographic interactions, the writing of the field-notes and the diary, qualitative interviewing and life history, analysis and interpretation of data, writing reports and final texts, the interactions between anthropological work and positioning during the fieldwork. In the second part, it is proposed a monographic path on the relationship between social research and case studies in urban anthropology. To this aim, will be explored the relationship between researcher, urban context and case study, showing the peculiar historical and processual features of social research: “situational analysis”, “case studies”, “extended case method”. In order to experience directly the analysis of social situations, students will be involved in group practice, based on direct observation in urban areas and on an ethnographic exploration of daily practices.
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