Xavier Rambla Sociologia

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març 22 2020

La governança de la societat de la informació

Enllaço també aquí les presentacions i els vídeos que  he elaborat per preparar docència online durant el temps de confinament.

Aquests materials formen part de l’assignatura Societat de la Informació, dels graus d’Empresa i Tecnologia i de Gestió Aeronàutica de la UAB.

2_Governança_Part1    Vídeo aquí

2_Governança_Part2 Vídeo aquí


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des. 02 2019

Observar y analizar las políticas sociales

En las prácticas profesionales del Máster de Política Social (UAB) los y las estudiantes participan en un proyecto que una administración pública, una entidad del tercer sector o un grupo de investigación esté llevando a cabo. Esta actividad formativa pretende tender puentes entre la educación académica y el mundo profesional.

En la evaluación de estas prácticas participan el tutor/a de la entidad que recibe al estudiante, y el equipo docente que coordina el módulo docente que corresponde. La primera evaluación se lleva a cabo rellenando un breve formulario con escalas de valoración (de 1 a 5). La segunda requiere elaborar un diario de campo y un breve análisis de la organización.

Los estudiantes aprender a aplicar los conceptos teóricos del máster. En ocasiones, para ello tienen que desempeñar tareas que presuponen un nivel avanzado de técnicas de investigación social. Si esta exigencia les provoca inseguridad, la coordinación académica de las prácticas les ofrece apoyo especializado para que puedan llevarlas a cabo. Además, las prácticas requieren que los futuros profesionales aprendan a desenvolverse en unas organizaciones que son muy distintas a la universidad que imparte el máster. Por este motivo, elaboran un análisis de la organización, el cual además de aplicar conceptos teóricos, afianza su competencia de orientarse en entornos profesionales de muy distinto tipo.

El diario, pues, es una de las principales actividades de evaluación. Al mismo tiempo que los/as estudiantes están desempeñando sus tareas en la organización, es conveniente que vayan tomando notas de varios aspectos significativos. Un buen diario se compone, al menos, de tres tipos de notas:

  • Descripciones de tareas. En lugar de presentar una lista de tareas realizadas, el diario requiere dar un paso más. Las descripciones deben contener información sobre las tareas realizadas así como una breve narración de las circunstancias en que se han ejecutado dichas tareas.
  • Observaciones etnográficas. La etnografía recoge información científica a partir de la observación directa de las acciones sociales. Si bien no es imprescindible que cumplan con los estándares de la investigación, unas observaciones iniciales del contexto de las prácticas proporcionan muchas ocasiones para relacionar los dilemas de la rutina profesional con los conceptos teóricos que se utilizan para comprender las políticas sociales. Los módulos docentes del máster, de hecho, presentan y discuten estos conceptos.
  • Reflexiones sobre los propios aprendizajes. Algunos ejemplos de los posibles temas de dichas reflexiones pueden ser ilustrativos: la distancia entre punto inicial y el punto final, la aplicación de técnicas de investigación social, la revisión de prenociones, el descubrimiento de problemáticas desconocidas, la valoración de las propias habilidades de organizar el trabajo y/o de comunicarlo, o la capacidad de contextualizar la experiencia de colaborar con un equipo. Estos y otros temas pueden inspirar reflexiones muy interesantes.

Para completar con éxito las prácticas, también es indispensable que estos/as estudiantes escriban un breve pero consistente análisis de la organización con la que han colaborado. Un análisis consiste en formular una hipótesis sobre varios aspectos, y en sugerir algunas referencias empíricas que permitan sustentarla. No se trata de demostrar nada ni de completar una investigación propiamente dicha, sino de acreditar hasta qué punto alguien puede formular los juicios más comunes entre los expertos en ciencias sociales. Por supuesto, no es necesario argumentar el fundamento teórico de la hipótesis, y el valor de las referencias empíricas puede ser muy relativo. Un análisis de este tipo simplemente tiene que elaborar un argumento convincente, breve y claro. Varias herramientas ofrecen instrumentos para realizar este análisis.

  • El método DAFO (en inglés SWOT: Strenghts, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) y el análisis sistémico (Systemic Change) sirven para captar la estrategia de una organización. Aplicarlos permite determinar si es más o menos exhaustiva y su potencial para desencadenar cambios sociales.
  • El análisis de políticas públicas (Policy Analysis) invita a formular preguntas sobre los problemas, la agenda de prioridades, las formulaciones de las políticas, su puesta en práctica (o “implementation”) y la evaluación de dichas políticas. El Marco de Análisis de la Gobernanza se inspira en este enfoque para proponer un modelo muy operativo basado en dos ideas fuerza. En primer lugar, define cuatro componentes esenciales de la gobernanza, a saber: los actores, los puntos nodales, las normas sociales y los procesos. En segundo lugar, entiende que la gobernanza es un factor intermedio que influyen en el efecto de una serie de factores sobre una serie de resultados.
  • Las organizaciones no se implican permanentemente en los mismos procesos de trabajo. Por ejemplo, el estado del bienestar espera que una serie de administraciones, empresas y entidades sociales contribuyan de modos muy distintos a financiar, otorgar y gestionar prestaciones económicas; a diseñar, proporcionar y evaluar servicios educativos, sanitarios y sociales; y en definitiva, a proporcionar información para construir sistemas oficiales de indicadores e informes oficiales sobre el funcionamiento de todas estas actividades. Los actores políticos que participan en el estado del bienestar también despliegan actividades propias de los grupos de presión y de los movimientos sociales. Para analizar esta variedad de procesos, la European Foundation for Quality Management (mirad el video desde el minuto 4:40) ha dibujado un gráfico que señala las conexiones principales entre los procesos y el conjunto de la organización. El diagrama explora los factores o “enablers” (estrategia, liderazgo, procesos, red de colaboradores) y los resultados (para las personas, los clientes y la sociedad) de las organización, así como las crecientes ventajas de reformular los factores a la luz de la evaluación de los resultados.
  • El impacto de la investigación puede ser también objeto de análisis. Este impacto es multidimensional y depende de factores sociales como la implicación de los “usuarios” de la investigación. El UK Economic and Social Research Council propone una definición muy operativa de este concepto aquí.

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des. 01 2019

Academic guidelines for the internship programme of GLOBED

When completing the GLOBED master’s degree, students are capable to analyse education policies for global development through the lens of the social sciences as well as to evaluate their contributions to social justice and human development. In addition, they have acquired basic professional skills by conducing fieldwork, doing an internship and writting a thesis. The master fosters learning by both studying and doing at the same time.

The internship programme of GLOBED induces students to perform a varied array of tasks in an organisation where they improve skills such as abstract thinking, practical reasoning and creativity. In addition, the internship requires a few but systematic academic tasks that consist of reporting activity, reflecting on practice and analysing the organisation. These academic tasks bridge theory with professional experience. The academic tasks also trigger a form of professional reflexivity that help students to realise the underlying challenges and cultivate their career- management skills accordingly.

Mostly, the academic component of the internship lies in producing a reflexive journal that includes at least six substantial entries. Some of these entries simply narrate the routine of students in the organisation. Others highlight some aspects that indicate how students learn to perform in this context. A final type of entries draft some insights on the vision, mission, work processes, challenges and emerging changes of the organisation.

Experience goes hand in hand with analysis. Each type of skills feeds the other one. Students learn by going back and forth from one to the other, and back from the latter to the former.

Analysing consists of breaking complex phenomena into smaller parts whose close inspection and whose interconnections induce a deeper understanding of the whole. Although the internship does not expect students to theorise on the models that lead analyses in research, it proposes them to start with very simple and brief summaries and diagrams.

The following list compiles basic presentations of models that have proven helpful in previous editions of the master. These outline the main concepts that inspire the most intriguing and interesting questions:

  1. Policy Analysis invites to ask questions on the problems, the agenda of priorities and the formulations that lead policy-making, as well as on the implementation and evaluation of these policies.
  2. Organisations are not permanently engaged in the same work processes. Significantly, although some international organisations and NGOs have been involved in delivering schooling in many (mostly, low-income) contries, nowadays these organisations also engage in other processes such as lobbying, advocacy and research. The European Foundation for Quality Management (see video since minute 4:40) has developed a diagram that plots the crucial connections between processes and the whole organisation. The diagram explores the connection between the enablers (strategy, leadership, processes, stakeholders) and the results (for people, customers and society) of organisations and the emerging advantages of calibrating the enablers according to feedback on previous results.
  3. SWOT analysis is an easy and instrumental tool to think about strategies. Basically, it requires to identify the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of an organisation. Some models also shed light on strategies insofar as they highlight complexity, non-linear changes and contingencies. This one sets a good illustration.
  4. Finally, some tools analyse the impact of research As mentioned above, research is not only a process of higher education institutions but also a common endeavour of many interantional organisations and NGOs.

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maig 30 2019

Global governance, institutional design and struggle

Current debates on global governance often revisit an old debate in the social sciences. While some theories argue that good or bad ideas on how to design institutions are the ultimate cause of political developments, other theories insist that this ultimate cause lies in struggle and negotiation. Rational-choice and historical institutionalism represent the two perspectives in political science.

The same type of discrepancy divides experts on global governance nowadays. For instance, Jeffrey Sachs considers that coherent arguments on the potential of the SDGs are capable to make a difference by persuading the elites. In contrast, Aart Scholte highlights a complex array of social relations that condition global governance.

In 2018-2019, the students of Social Change and Globalisation evaluated the insights of these diverging theories. Their work focused on such issues of the global policy agendas as nutrition and education. On the one hand, Nestlé claims that it is producing shared value, while FAO works for achieving the SDGs that concern agriculture and food. On the other hand, GEMS Education claims that its activity fosters access to education, while the Global Campaign of Education warns that private education threatens the right to education.

Global nutrition and education policies entail a number of implications for the social sciences, political philosophy and practical decision-making. This exercise focused on one of these implications. An influential standpoint suggests the following research question: Are the current problems in these areas the consequence of good or bad previous institutional designs? However, another widespread perspective suggests a different research question: Are these problems the outcome of old struggles and negotiations?

Certainly, qualified and sound analyses must draw on the whole array of expert opinions in order to achieve consistent conclusions. However, halfway positions are not convincing simply because their premises are intermediate. Although all  experts assume that both institutional designs and struggles play a role, the order of factors eventually alters the product. If designs set the the pattern, struggles only take place on the flaws of the initial designs. If struggles set the pattern, designs reflect an equilibrium of power. The floor is yours.


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gen. 31 2019

Erik Olin Wright va generar molts recursos pedagògics

El sociòleg Erik Olin Wright ha mort al gener de 2019. Aquest obituari explica força bé la seva enorme obra acadèmica.

A més de les teories i recerques, també ha llegat un veritable repositori de recursos per a la docència universitària. Entre molts, en podem destacar tres:

  • L’obituari remarca la seva recerca sobre l’estructura de classes. Una de les millors maneres d’aprendre ara mateix les bases del debat teòric és el llibre “Si la classe és la pregunta, quina és la resposta?
  • Des dels anys noranta l’experimentació i la recerca sobre la participació ciutadana a la política han crescut considerablement. Al seu llibre “Aprofundint la democràcia” ell va elaborar un dels marcs teòrics més sistemàtics i exhaustius sobre aquest tema.
  • A hores d’ara la sociologia es preocupa de les connexions entre diversos fenòmens socials i les polítiques públiques (policy sociology), el seu curs sobre “Teories de l’estat” sistematitzava una teoria neomarxista sobre aquestes polítiques públiques a partir d’una extensa bibliografia de la sociologia històrica, que està disponible al seu web.

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juny 10 2018

Highlights of GLOBED Internship

GLOBED students undertake three-months internships in international organisations, NGOs, national aid agencies and higher education institutions. This post draws on the reports of the first (2015-17) and second (2016-18) cohorts in order to briefly outline their activities and observations. The post also collects a small repository of tools that are helpful for analysing these institutions.

Learning by doing

  • A few GLOBED students participated in research projects. For instance, the main themes had to do with public-private partnerships, the education of refugees, socio-economic segregation and inclusive sports.

  • Most of them collaborated in writing policy reports and literature reviews for international organisations, NGOs and charities.

  • Some of them were asked to update repositories of documents that may be helpful for practitioners in different professional areas.

  • A few GLOBED students contributed to providing services such as scholarships or social support to students coming from specific target groups.

  • Each edition one or two students collaborated with consultants in the field of educational planning.

A few analytic insights

The Introduction of GLOBED Internship for the third (2017-2019) cohort states that assessment will require completing a journal and producing a brief analysis (see your digital portfolio in Inici-E-Portfoli on the left column of GLOBED General Moodle Room).

The following list points out some insights of the analyses produced by the first and the second cohorts.

  • International organisations (UN and other) significantly contribute to education policies for global development. Thus, their ‘core processes’ (see EFQM model below) normally include building on the capacities of the governments of low- and middle-income countries. But other typical core processes consist of collecting documentation, conducting policy-driven research, providing assistance to national plans, promoting curriculum development, and issuing policy papers are the main activities. For them, a crucial challenge is how to coordinate all these activities as well as how to balance the role of stakeholders.
  • Civil society organisations are involved in international aid, but many of them have engaged in advocacy too. These policy actors are particularly reflexive regarding their vision, their mission and their own potential.
  • Some partners who offer internships deliver services directly, mostly in order to foster the mobility of students. In Europe, there is a growing concern with the international mobility of refugee students. These organisations must respond to huge challenges in order to build a sufficient network of stakeholders. They are also experimenting with on-line learning.
  • Research is becoming a ‘core process’ for many official and civil society organisations involved in education and sustainable development. Not only programme evaluations require a research component, but the participant institutions of GLOBED internship also associate research with many other endeavours, namely: diagnosis, policy review, advocacy and governance (‘by numbers’).

Analysis toolkit

European Framework for Quality Management

Systemic Change

SWOT Analysis

Social Impact of Research


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oct. 28 2017

Analysing HEIs and educational IOs and NGOs for global development: some tools

GLOBED is an Erasmus+ master on Education Policies for Global Development (link). In their second year students undertake an internship in Higher Education Institutions (HEIs), International Organisations (IOs) and Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) who work in this area. This activity is assessed according to the feedback of on-site mentors as well as to the quality of their journal and their analysis of the organisation. This post takes stock of a few tools that may be helpful for this organisational analysis.

The European Framework for Quality Management is extremely useful to account for the complexity of these organisations. Years ago, HEIs simply provided education, but nowadays many are also engaged in research, knowledge transference and international cooperation. International Organisations have significantly reviewed their mission for the last decades. The array of activities they labelled as “educational planning” when the UN were created has noticeably widened. Finally, the common representation of NGOs as service providers for vulnerable target groups has also been transformed. Currently, not only NGOs undertake ressearch and advocacy, besides service provision, but they have also started a wide-ranging debate on their vision and mission.

Normally I just use this diagram to explore the potential of organisations. It basically suggests some questions as the following ones:

– Which are the core processes ? Does the organisation need to implement any key support, secondary processes to complete the core ones?

– How does the organisation define its institutional strategy (e.g. its mission)?  How do the main stakeholders intervene in defining this strategy? Is leadership a significant factor for the functioning of the organisation’

– To what extent are the strategy and the processes aligned? Does this alignment contribute to improve the results?

Sometimes organisations are involved in such a basic but demanding endeavour as defining their strategy. Strategy is crucial in a rapidly changing context. A quick look at the evolution from MDGs to SDGs simply shows to what extent the context of HEIs, IOs and NGOs working for global development has been transformed. The emergence of new philanthropists has exacerbated the trend.

SWOT analysis is an easy and instrumental tool to think about strategies. Basically, it requires to identify the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of an organisation. Some models also shed light on strategies insofar as they highlight complexity, non-linear changes and contingencies. This one sets a good illustration.

Finally, specific tools to analyse the impact of research are in the making. Recent debates have focused on the impact of HEIs, who were the main agents of research a few decades ago. But clearly IOs and NGOs are launching their own research programmes. So, accounting for the demonstrable effects of research both within and outside the academia has become a new focus of interest.


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abr. 20 2017

Reflective journals in higher education: some observations

Personal journals have been a literary genre for a long time. In higher education, reflective journals have been used in order to raise awareness of the specifics of professional activity, for instance, medical interviews with patients, qualitative social research, or teachers self-assessment of classroom practices.

In general, reflective journals may be helpful to develop the higher-order learning outcomes. For instance, Bloom’s taxonomy distinguishes remembering, comprehending, applying, analysing and synthesizing. Remarkably, journals induce students to analyse evidence which could otherwise be taken for granted without recognising its importance. This tool also requires students to elaborate their own synthesis of a case or a particular situation.

In this entry I want to comment on three contributions of electronic journals to higher education. In other words, I want to write down some contributions of blended learning in this area.

  1. Reflective journals are useful for students and lecturers to discuss fieldwork observations in qualitative social research. Writing journals for this purpose has been a common practice for a long time. By accounting for the researchers’ observations and feelings, this technique expects to control for bias, and mostly, to construct theories through a constant dialogue with empirical evidence. Since electronic journals allow students and lecturers to share observations and feedback in a same space, they help both parties to think of the whole research process step by step. This is a promising intellectual exercise as well as careful, detailed and transparent method of academic assessment.
  2. This tool is also instrumental to report on professional internships. Normally, internships are assessed by final reports issued by both mentors in the workplace and academic supervisors. These reports mostly take into account to what extent the student fit into the placement and was able to make interesting suggestions both from the professional and the academic point of view. Electronic journals provide another opportunity to enhance these discussions and the ulterior learning insofar as they allow students and supervisors to discuss everyday experiences. This discussion may detect any problems disrupting fit for a variety of reasons (e.g. expectations, roles, miscommunication, unexpected emotional reactions). At the same time, a continous dialogue requires students to ground their specialised judgement of the experience on a huge variety of small details that otherwise would be easily overlooked.
  3. Finally, reflective journals open new opportunities for widening the array of relevant learning outcomes in the midst of academic cultures which are systematically centered on lecturing. Lecturing is a teaching instrument which may be as useful as any other one, but for complex historical reasons it has become the only one in some academic cultures. Then, it compels lecturers to elaborate on their personal view of topics. If students are to prove they attended the lectures and made sense of them, they are also implicitly required to adhere to this view. Only an excellent communication and a strong trust would allow for some room for explicit discrepancy in a written exam that assesses a series of lectures. In this context, reflective journals posit new occasions for debate and require both lecturers and students to take account of each other’s views and understandings. While lectures may be complemeted by question and answer sessions, this is normally a complementary activity after a long one-way transmission of information and professional judgements. However, if properly designed and scheduled, reflective journals may alleviate face-to-face sessions from this burden and open new spaces for different teaching and learning activities.

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març 12 2017

Gestionar innovacions en la societat del coneixement

La “societat del coneixement” es caracteritza per un seguit de canvis socials que combinen processos visibles a les escales geogràfiques local, estatal i global. Per especialitzar-se en la gestió empresarial, la gestió pública o la intervenció social a través del tercer sector, una persona ha de comprendre fenòmens com ara l’enormitat de les finances, la configuració de cadenes globals de valor, la formació de sistemes regionals i estatals d’innovació, o bé la importància estratègia de la gestió del coneixement i la formació de xarxes urbanes globals.

Com s’aprèn a gestionar les innovacions en aquest context? Certament cal adquirir i aplicar un ventall de coneixements teòrics de diverses branques de les ciències socials. Però no n’hi ha prou. El panorama és prou complex perquè un/a professional necessiti sovint expressar la seva opinió experta sobre diversos temes. I això només s’aprèn amb una pràctica ben orientada per la teoria. A més a més, és imprescindible organitzar el propi treball amb autonomia, i comunicar idees amb eficàcia.

És molt difícil de desenvolupar aquests aprenentatges si la docència universitària consisteix tan sols a donar i rebre classes magistrals, i proposar i resoldre exercicis. Aquesta pauta normalment implica que els estudiants reparteixen la seva atenció entre llargs períodes de molt baixa intensitat i un o dos moments de màxima tensió en les corresponents èpoques d’exàmens. En canvi, per adquirir i aplicar coneixements teòrics alhora que hom aprèn a formular judicis especialitzats, organitzar-se i comunicar, cal tot un altre plantejament del treball de docència i aprenentatge. Per això és necessari prestar un nivell mitjà d’atenció a un ventall d’activitats durant tres o quatre mesos, i en tot cas baixar la guàrdia quan tan sols es tracta de completar els informes que ja s’han anat esbossant al llarg d’aquest temps. El gràfic adjunt perfila les dues pautes (corba-atencio).

Per tant, a més de classes magistrals i exercicis, aquesta mena d’aprenentatges requereixen altres eines. L’aprenentatge basat en problemes, l’elaboració de diaris, el b-learning i la participació en relacions intergeneracionals poden ser alguns instruments molt apropiats per assolir aquesta fita.


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oct. 17 2016

Aprenentatge basat en problemes i assessorat per persones grans

Els dies 7, 14, 21 de novembre i 12 de desembre els estudiants de l’assignatura Societat de la Informació, del Grau d’Empresa i Tecnologia, comentaran els seus treballs acadèmics sobre les innovacions socials digitals amb un grup de persones interessades. Es tracta d’una experiència d’aprenentatge basat en problemes que s’obre al públic a fi d’articular l’expertesa professional i tècnica dels estudiants amb el sentit comú dels usuaris a qui podria fer servei. Alhora, és una manera de provar noves formes de col·laboració de la universitat amb la societat civil.

El professor Xavier Rambla, del Departament de Sociologia, demana als estudiants que analitzin quin problema esperen resoldre un seguit d’innovacions socials digitals, i esbrinin quin impacte podrien provocar sobre diversos grups socials. Els estudiants han de documentar-se, formular les seves hipòtesi, i analitzar l’evidència empírica que puguin trobar. Amb la seva participació, el programa Aprendre amb la Gent Gran, del Districte de Sants-Montjuïc de Barcelona, continua la seva trajectòria de col·laborar amb les universitats amb la perspectiva de fomentar les relacions intergeneracionals.


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