Measuring Change, Sketching Futures: a Different Approach to Quality-of-Life Studies

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Filomena Maggino
Carolina Facioni

Abstract

The aim of the paper is to show how the variety of approaches to study social change may result in a challenging complexity for the social scientist, starting from the difficulty of defining the concept of “change” itself and managing it through observed data. This is particularly true in presence of complex phenomena, such as those defining and composing the quality of life. What should be pointed out is that quality of life studies not only are focused on the present time but have also long term perspectives. This represents the link between studies on quality of life and forecasting. When applied to the field of quality of life, the typical logical approach to forecasts, based upon inferential statistics, could reveal its limits. Those limits are related to different aspects: e.g., the forms of relationships between different aspects of the phenomenon, which can be linear and non-linear; the dimensionality of phenomenon, which can turn out to be very complex; the causality, which could be direct or indirect; the entity of change, which implies the idea that also small change can have great impact; the perspective of observation, which can be internal or external and local or global. Consequently, the study of change related to quality of life needs, in addition to the traditional statistical tools as well as the tradition of social indicators, a different approach. Although the Futures Studies are not a proper science, nevertheless their approach to social research may ensure the requested accuracy of a scientific forecasting process.

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Author Biographies

Filomena Maggino, Dept. of Statistics, Informatics, Applications “G.Parenti” (DiSIA), University of Florence

Address: 4 Piazza di San Marco, 50121, Florence, Italy.

Email: filomena.maggino@unifi.it

Carolina Facioni, National Institute of Statistics (ISTAT)

Address: 16 Via Cesare Balbo, 00184, Rome, Italy.

Email: facioni@istat.it

How to Cite
Maggino, F., & Facioni, C. (2013). Measuring Change, Sketching Futures: a Different Approach to Quality-of-Life Studies. Sociologie Românească, 11(4), 7-39. Retrieved from http://revistasociologieromaneasca.ro/sr/article/view/2013_4_maggino