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University of Trento

General information

The Department of Sociology and Social Research – the first such Department in Italy – was founded at the University of Trento within the Faculty of Sociology in 1967, tying together long-standing cultural, organizational and scientific traditions in the field of the social sciences.

The Department is a multidisciplinary entity containing, as of November 2003, 46 tenured academics (16 Full Professors, 14 Associate Professors, and 16 Assistants Professors), 8 postgraduate or postdoctoral fellows, 4 research assistants, and 2 administrative staff.

The Department has consistently carried out cutting-edge research projects, often within larger international comparative studies. This research activity has often relied upon innovative techniques of field research such as panel studies, content analysis and, more recently, network analysis.

The Department has successfully attracted both national and international funds in 23 highly competitive application processes. These have included submissions to the Ministry of University and Scientific and Technological Research and to the European Commission.

Research program

Research activities have traditionally centred around five major themes:

The Department’s tradition in empirical research is supported by the constant development of data archives for the Social Sciences. Particular attention has been paid to applied research, responding to a demand coming from various local, national and international institutions, in the fields of education, labour market policies, the social condition of the younger generations, social policies, political participation, opinions and values, and local welfare.

The Department coordinates several joint research projects in collaboration with other university departments, both national and international, in the field of applied sociology and social sciences. Examples are the project on Social Capital and Economic Performance at Local Level, the Italian Household Panel Survey (fourth wave), the European Social Survey, the Online Bibliography of Italian Sociology, the Europeanization of Italian Politics and Society, the European and Italian Values, and European Values Study (EVS).

The Department is associated with the European Consortium for Political Research (ECPR), based at the University of Essex, the European Consortium of Sociological Research, based at the Nijmegen University, and to the Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR), hosted by the University of Michigan, through a joint initiative with the department of Sociology and Social Research of Milano-Bicocca.

The Department is administratively responsible also for the activities of the inter-faculty Jean Monnet European Centre, which disseminates information and sponsors research on the European Union. The Jean Monnet Centre manages two important comparative projects funded by the European Union (Fifth Framework Program): a) Racism and Xenophobia and Institutional Discrimination in Europe; and b) Organised Civil Society and European Governance.

The Department is presently coordinating three Ph.D. programs, jointly promoted with other institutions of higher education. It is also member of inter-university consortia administering three additional Ph.D. programs coordinated by other members of the consortia.

The Doctoral Programs coordinated by the University of Trento are: a) Doctoral Program in Sociology and Social Research (director: Prof. Mario Diani). Established in 1980, this was the first such program in Italy. This inter-university program includes, the University of Trento, the University of Bologna, the University of Florence, the University of Milano-Bicocca, and the Istituto Cattaneo of Bologna; b) Doctoral Program in Information Systems and Organizations (director: Prof. Silvia Gherardi). Established in 2000, this doctoral program is administered jointly with the Ecole Normale Supérieure de Cachan, Paris and the University of Bologna; c) Doctoral Program in Epistemology and the Sociology of Knowledge (director: Prof. Antonio Scaglia). Established in 2001, this Ph.D. program is jointly administered by the University of Trento and the University of Paris IV (Sorbonne).

The Doctoral Programs in which the University of Trento participates as member of a consortium are: a) Comparative and European Politics, coordinated by the University of Siena; b) Political Sociology, coordinated by the University of Florence; c) Italian Studies in a Social Perspective (Italianistica), coordinated by the University of Trieste.

The Department hosts the editorial board of a bilingual journal Annali di Sociologia/Soziologisch Jahrbuch, which is published by the Associazione Italo-Tedesca di Sociologia/Italienisch-Deutsche Gesellschaft für Soziologie.

The Department also publishes a working paper series Quaderni del Dipartimento di Sociologia e Ricerca Sociale.

The Department hosts the Italian Data Archive for the social sciences (IDAss). IDAss is a specialized national resource centre housing a collection of computer readable data sets and programs in social sciences. Through this centre, the Department of Sociology and Social Research, in collaboration with the Faculty of Sociology, collects, standardizes and disseminates data to undergraduate and graduate students through-out Italy. Founded in 1997, IDAss now houses several hundreds datasets coming from major governmental data series, both national (Labour Force Survey, Italian House-hold Consumption, Indagine Istat Multiscopo, Bank of Italy Household Survey, etc.) and international (Eurobarometer, European Household Panel, International Social Survey Programme, World Value Survey, European Value Survey, etc.), as well as from important studies from academic (Italian Social Mobility Survey, Italian Household Panel) and private institutions (National Survey on Youth Conditions, National Election Surveys, Exit Pools).

In 1996 the Department built a laboratory with 24 workstations for CATI (Computer Aided Telephone Interviews). This laboratory has not only research purposes but also methodological (the study of questionnaire construction and question design) and teaching purposes (the acquisition of interview techniques by the students of the faculty).