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Michele Marzulli
General sociology

Let’s talk about you: what is your background, what do you teach, and what are your research interests?
My name is Michele Marzulli. I am a sociologist and I started working at Ca’ Foscari in 2021 after working in several Italian universities, Trento, Bergamo and Cattolica, where I completed my PhD in Sociology and methodology of social research.
My main research interests are welfare policies, governance of regional health systems, social innovation, especially with reference to the third sector. I have carried out several empirical studies in these sectors as I believe that it is only by starting from observation of reality can hypotheses and interpretations be formulated

What are you most passionate about in your field of research?
I am sure it is important to study the special layout of the European social model. It is an “invention” which has its bases in our history and our cultural roots, but which shows it can adapt to change, following ever original modes. Understanding how and why public institutions, private organizations and the many associative forms interact to respond to new social risks is an intellectual challenge that concerns not only the academic world but also society as a whole. The possibility to understand the problems of the population and to contribute to constructing relevant policies is the ideal aim of all scientific research.

Have you always known that this was going to be your path?
To say the truth, my “life’s career” has not been entirely linear. On the other hand, as some experts of contemporary sociology claim, it has become “normal” to change route, retrace your steps and perhaps begin again: often it is a question of revisiting your biography as a bricolage. In this slightly rhapsodic path, from journalism to IT, I must confess that I have always been interested in what is happening around me: society. This has led me to study social change in a rigorous scientific manner, which is sociology in extreme synthesis, and which seems to me to be a wholly coherent evolution.

What do studying and researching mean to you?
Teaching is important for me. I consider it fundamental to attempt to transmit to students not only knowledge of the past, but also the most recent research results. Therefore, these aspects are always intertwined. However, I do see an important difference. In my work as a teacher, I always attempt to recall the responsibility we have towards our students, on the one hand providing them with an example of  rigorous work ethic, and on the other stimulating their critical thinking. It is precisely because this latter aspect represents a value essential to all scholars’ scientific research. Cultivating doubt means continuing to study reality. And the beauty is that reality often manages to surprise us.

Can you offer any advice to researchers in the early stages of their career?
It is not easy to give young people advice, but I believe it is honest to tell them that the path of research is not an easy one. However, precisely for this reason it is more important to attempt to follow it.
The true difference between those who put forward their legitimate opinions (in any context) and those who do research is the attention required to base each proposition in solid theory and in supporting empirical data. And this is the spirit of research: follow a path and at each fork attempt to take the correct path. Perhaps turning back, changing your mind, changing opinion, but always guided by evidence and by the ability to reflect. This attitude, which in sociology is known also as reflexivity, is the true competence that the spirit of scientific research permits to be constructed. And it is definitely worthwhile.

Last update: 14/02/2024