Course Title: Introducing Comparative Studies
Dates: 28/08/2006-30/08/2006
Professor: Maurizio Pisati (University of Milan Bicocca, Italy)

Course Summary:
The purpose of this course is to introduce the logic of comparative research in the social sciences. First, the general logic of social science research will be discussed, with a particular emphasis on the role played by inference in the research process. Subsequently, the comparative method as applied in social science research will be illustrated, focussing on its features and its main variants. Finally, the practice of comparative research will be exemplified drawing from the literature on ethnic residential segregation.

The course will offer:
a) a complete understanding of the logic and the processes of social science research and of the role of inference;
b) the ability to design a comparative research project, choosing between different approaches;
c) understanding of the applications of comparative approach in urban studies.



Title of Lecture

Abstract & Readings



The logic of social science comparative research


This lecture introduces the logic of social science research in general and of comparative research in particular.



King, G., Keohane, R.O. and Verba, S. Designing Social Inquiry, Princeton, Princeton University Press, 1994: pp. 3-33.

Ragin, C.C. The Comparative Method, Berkeley, University of California Press, 1987: pp. 1-33.



Comparative research strategies


This lecture illustrates and contrasts two different strategies of comparative research: case-oriented and variable-oriented.



Ragin, C.C. The Comparative Method, Berkeley, University of California Press, 1987: pp. 34-84.



The comparative analysis of ethnic residential segregation


This lecture illustrates and exemplifies the practice of comparative research in the field of urban studies. Expressly, it is shown how Poulsen and colleagues have tackled the problem of analysing and comparing ethnic residential segregation across different cities.



Poulsen, M.F., Johnston, R.J. and Forrest, J. “Plural cities and ethnic enclaves: Introducing a measurement procedure for comparative study”, International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 26 (2002): pp. 229-243.

Poulsen, M.F., Forrest, J. and Johnston, R.J. “From modern to post-modern? Contemporary ethnic segregation in four US metropolitan areas”, Cities, 19 (2002): pp. 161-172.


Visual sociology in urban research
Erica Barbiani (University of Urbino, Italy)

How can visual sociology contribute to urban research? This lecture will give a first
theoretical introduction on the use of photographs in social research and examine the
methodology of shooting scripts shaped within the framework of grounded theory.

1. Becker., H., Photography and Sociology in “Studies in the Anthropology of Visual
 Communication”. vol. 1, n. 1, 1974.1.  (19 pages).
 2. Suchar. C., Grounding Sociological Research in Shooting Scripts, “Qualitative
 Sociology” n. 20: 33-56, 1997. (23 pages).
3. Suchar. C., Amsterdam and Chicago: Seeing the Macro-Characteristics of Gentrification, in Knowles and Sweetman’s Picturing the Social
 Landscape Routledge, Great Britain, 2004. (10 pages).
 4. Seeing Ethnic Succession in Little and Big Italy, Paper Presented at Urban Spaces and Private Quarters Panel, Technological and Aesthetic (Trans)Formations of Society Conference, Technical University Darmstadt, 12.10.2005-14.10.2005, Darmstadt, Germany (19 pages).


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