Conducting Social Research Online: Empathetic Concern and Sociability

Rita Bichi


As of February 2020, all access to the research field has taken place online out of necessity and, as a consequence of this, it seems that there are many questions which must be tackled by methodological research. The paper will discuss some of these, starting from a focus group experience: what elements of the interview situation change? What comes into play in the dynamics of the relationship that is established? Do the typical dynamics of a focus group also develop, even among people who look at each other from a screen, who only see each other’s faces or little more, and who have never met before? What must the facilitator of the discursive production take into account? The reference is to two important authors, Edith Stein and Georg Simmel. The hypothesis discussed concerns the reduction of the possibility for empathy in the interaction and the affirmation of sociability, which almost seems to fill the space left by empathy.


digital research; empathy; sociability

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