Research Proposal #8: Qualitative Data Sources for Interpretivist Research

I am proposing to research the changing meaning of various Italian national anthems from 1922 to the present. I would like to find out what discourses explain the differences in the Italian national anthems Giovenezza, Marcia Reale, and Il Canto degli Italiani. This research attempts to explain to readers how actors such as the Italian public and the government portrayed the three different anthems, each sharing similar lyrical meanings and original intentions, in different ways. [1]

The piece that first introduced me to the discourse surrounding the Italian national anthem is The Role of Music in Fascism Propaganda: The Example of the Mussolini Italy by Derya Karaburun Doğan. Doğan analyzed the decision of the Italian fascist party to never formally adopt a national anthem, but to merely employ a tactic of requiring the de facto anthem (Giovenezza) to be played regularly throughout the public. The anthem to the fascists, she argues, represents an appeal to the roots of traditional Italian society and rejection of the monarchical hymn Marcia Reale. The fascists began to require radio stations to play the Giovenezza at the conclusion of every radio show, eventually leading to a national rejection of the long and gaudy Marcia Reale that had concluded radio shows since the beginning of the century.  When the Marcia Reale was officially reinstated in 1945, the anthem had become so despised by the public that it only lasted one year before being removed as the official anthem. Until 2017 when it became official , Il Canto degli Italiani served as the de facto anthem. This gradual narrative adjustment of  Italian anthems began from fascist undertones that still exist today in Italian anthem literature. 

In Italy’s New Patriotism; Putting Pinocchio to work, Barbie Nadeau argued that the entrance of Italy into the European Community created a backlash of sorts, leading to a desire for Il Canto degli Italiani to be officially codified as the de jure anthem. These grassroots organizations mobilized around existing sectarian lines, expanding regional schisms. Il Canto degli Italiani was perceived as a symbol for Italian sovereignty in the wave of European cultural unification  in the early 2000s. Political organizations such as the Liga Nord used the de facto national anthem as a rallying cry in the lead up to general elections, most notably in the recent 2019 election where they gained a majority of seats in the legislature. Organizations such as Liga Nord often conflict with pro-European groups such as Forza Italia, who remained ideologically similar except in regards to their embrace of either European or Italian symbols. [3]



[1] Wayne C. Booth, Gregory G. Colomb, Joseph M. Williams, Joseph Bizup, and William T. Fitzgerald, The Craft of Research (4th ed.), Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2016, 54.

[2]  Derya Karaburun Doğan, “The Role of Music in Fascism Propaganda: The Example of the Mussolini Italy / Faşizm Propagandasında Müziğin Rolü: Mussolini İtalyası Örneği,” Folklor/Edebiyat 25, no. 97 (2019): 229–243,

[3] Barbie Nadeau, “Italy’s New Patriotism; Putting Pinocchio to Work: [Atlantic Edition],” Newsweek, International Ed.; New York, March 17, 2003.


Author: Price

I am a student at the American University School of International Service pursuing a degree in International Affairs.

4 thoughts on “Research Proposal #8: Qualitative Data Sources for Interpretivist Research”

  1. Hi Price,

    Your topic is extremely interesting and not often discussed, so I appreciate your bringing it to light. Your post shows the clear discourse that needs to be researched. I wonder if in your more substantive research to come, you would dive deeper into the discourse that happens between 1946 and the early 2000s when Il Canto degli Italiani was made popular as a symbol for Italian sovereignty. What discourse of the public, or of leaders, made this shift from Giovenezza and Marcia Reale possible? I also would love to see what the anthems actually say and how these words might contribute to the discourse of how Italians view their own sovereignty.

  2. Price, I really like the topic that you chose for this method of research. Researching Italian national anthems is often something that is not spoken about, especially in regard to the relationship it holds with a broader context. It is very clear that you have a good foundation of research about the national anthems and I think that you do a great job explaining the historical context of the anthems. Moving forward, how are you planning on continuing the research? Do you plan on studying the effect that this anthem has on citizens or examining it in context of state? I think you have a really great start to your research here and I look forward to see where your project progresses!

  3. Hi Price! I quite enjoyed the really great context you gave to each of the Italian anthems. I think they make an incredibly interesting subject of inquiry considering how rich and connected they are to Italian history. Going forward, I’m interested in who’s discourse (elite, government, party, wider public) you choose to study. Like what was it about the public’s discourse in 1945 surrounding Marcia Reale that made it only last a year when it returned- how did they demonstrate their distaste for it – or a question similar to that.

  4. Price — you you discuss some very good data sources that would be relevant for an inquiry into representations of things like national identity or patriotism. That is a very good start for this methodology. At the same time, much of your post is still lodged in a neopositivist mindset. As you think about the overall problem statement and the formulation of the question, remember (from Dunn and Neumann) that questions in this methodology usually take the “how…?” or “how possible…?” form that then points to the specific discourses and representations that are puzzling (e.g. “How was it possible that lone mothers came to be represented as immoral and greedy in 1830s Britain?” to use the Carabine example). The middle part of your problem statement (the part that can be restated as a question) is very much a much nepositivist “what caused Y?” question rather than a question focused on how certain constructions of meaning became possible, shared, and/or contested. If you think of the example readings and the advice from Dunn & Neumann, how could you refocus the problem statement and question to align with the focus of this methodology (studying how shared meanings are constructed, reproduced, and challenged)? After you’ve done that, then then think about what an inquiry into how certain shared meanings were constructed and/or contested would mean for how you would read the sources you discuss here. What are the specific representations of your “X” that you find in these texts? What intersubjective meanings are being constructed or challenged?

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