Skip Nav

Introduction to Sociology/Sociological Methods

Sociological Research: Designs, Methods

❶This course will be a mix of seminar and lecture, where we will be focused on understanding how we can use these methods to better meet our goals and answer our research questions. The ideal type analysis and scales of personal values have proved very valuable for descriptive and analytical studies.

Case study research

In The News
Upload and Share Your Article:
Navigation menu

In addition, good research will "look for differences that make a difference" Rule 2 and "build in reality checks" Rule 3. Rule 4 advises researchers to replicate, that is, "to see if identical analyses yield similar results for different samples of people" p.

The next two rules urge researchers to "compare like with like" Rule 5 and to "study change" Rule 6 ; these two rules are especially important when researchers want to estimate the effect of one variable on another e. The final rule, "Let method be the servant, not the master," reminds researchers that methods are the means, not the end, of social research; it is critical from the outset to fit the research design to the research issue, rather than the other way around.

Explanations in social theories can be idiographic or nomothetic. An idiographic approach to an explanation is one where the scientists seek to exhaust the idiosyncratic causes of a particular condition or event, i.

Nomothetic explanations tend to be more general with scientists trying to identify a few causal factors that impact a wide class of conditions or events. For example, when dealing with the problem of how people choose a job, idiographic explanation would be to list all possible reasons why a given person or group chooses a given job, while nomothetic explanation would try to find factors that determine why job applicants in general choose a given job.

Research in science and in social science is a long, slow and difficult process that sometimes produces false results because of methodological weaknesses and in rare cases because of fraud, so that reliance on any one study is inadvisable. The ethics of social research are shared with those of medical research. In the United States, these are formalized by the Belmont report as:.

The principle of respect for persons holds that a individuals should be respected as autonomous agents capable of making their own decisions, and that b subjects with diminished autonomy deserve special considerations.

The principle of beneficence holds that a the subjects of research should be protected from harm, and, b the research should bring tangible benefits to society.

By this definition, research with no scientific merit is automatically considered unethical. The principle of justice states the benefits of research should be distributed fairly. The definition of fairness used is case-dependent, varying between " 1 to each person an equal share, 2 to each person according to individual need, 3 to each person according to individual effort, 4 to each person according to societal contribution, and 5 to each person according to merit.

The origin of the survey can be traced back at least early as the Domesday Book in , [6] [7] while some scholars pinpoint the origin of demography to with the publication of John Graunt 's Natural and Political Observations upon the Bills of Mortality. While Durkheim rejected much of the detail of Comte's philosophy, he retained and refined its method, maintaining that the social sciences are a logical continuation of the natural ones into the realm of human activity, and insisting that they may retain the same objectivity, rationalism, and approach to causality.

What has been called our positivism is but a consequence of this rationalism. Durkheim's seminal monograph, Suicide , a case study of suicide rates among Catholic and Protestant populations, distinguished sociological analysis from psychology or philosophy.

By carefully examining suicide statistics in different police districts, he attempted to demonstrate that Catholic communities have a lower suicide rate than that of Protestants, something he attributed to social as opposed to individual or psychological causes. He developed the notion of objective suis generis " social facts " to delineate a unique empirical object for the science of sociology to study. For Durkheim, sociology could be described as the "science of institutions , their genesis and their functioning".

In the midth century there was a general—but not universal—trend for U. American sociology to be more scientific in nature, due to the prominence at that time of action theory and other system-theoretical approaches. Merton released his Social Theory and Social Structure By the turn of the s, sociological research was increasingly employed as a tool by governments and businesses worldwide. Sociologists developed new types of quantitative and qualitative research methods.

Paul Lazarsfeld founded Columbia University 's Bureau of Applied Social Research , where he exerted a tremendous influence over the techniques and the organization of social research. His many contributions to sociological method have earned him the title of the "founder of modern empirical sociology". From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

For the journal, see Social Research journal. Statistical — quantitative methods Cluster analysis Correlation and association Multivariate statistics Regression analysis Social network analysis Social sequence analysis Surveys and questionnaire Structural equation modeling Survey research Quantitative marketing research Qualitative methods Analytic induction Case study Ethnography Life history Morphological analysis Most significant change technique Participant observation Textual analysis Unstructured interview Mixed methods Archival research Content analysis Longitudinal study Focus group Historical method Semi-structured interview Structured interview Triangulation social science.

Anthropology archaeology cultural linguistics social Economics microeconomics macroeconomics Geography human integrative History cultural economic military political social Law jurisprudence legal history legal systems Political science international relations psephology public administration public policy Psychology abnormal biological cognitive developmental personality social Sociology criminology demography internet rural urban. Anthrozoology Area studies Business studies Cognitive science Communication studies Community studies Cultural studies Development studies Education Environmental social science studies Food studies Gender studies Global studies History of technology Human ecology Information science International studies Media studies Philosophy of science economics history psychology social science Planning land use regional urban Political ecology Political economy Public health Regional science Science and technology studies Science studies historical Social work.

Humanities Geisteswissenschaft Human science. Skip to main content. Search Enter your keywords. What Investigators Should Know," featuring program ASA on the Issues. With access to more personal data than ever before, police have the power to solve crimes more quickly, but in practice, the influx of More than 5, sociologists will convene in Montreal this August to explore scientific research relating to social inequality and many Community characteristics play a major role in perpetuating teen suicide clusters and thwarting prevention efforts, according to a new Up until now, it has not been easy to study empirically the process of scientific knowledge production because we rarely have access to a Community characteristics play an important role in perpetuating teen suicide clusters and thwarting prevention efforts, according to a new Some people still have doubts as to whether social behaviour is really capable of being treated scientifically.

In Sociology, as we have discussed earlier it is not possible to have the laboratory method because the raw material of sociological investigation is human being for whom it is not possible to live within certain fixed conditions. However, this method has been used with great success over a very wide range of situation and types of behaviour. Sociology does observe the behaviour of the people under conditions in which they live.

However, every possible precaution need be taken to conceal from the subjects that observation is in progress and that measurements are being made. The second stage in the scientific method is recording of all the data obtained in the observation. Recording must be accurate and objective. The sociologist records a situation as observed by him. The third stage in the scientific method is the classification. Once the facts are observed and recorded we must classify them in a certain order.

By classification we arrange our material in such a way that those facts which possess common characteristics are grouped together. Classification thus enables us to correlate the facts that we have collected and established some relationships between them.

Next comes the stage of hypothesis which means giving some sort of possible explanation for the correlation between the acts classified. Classification has enabled us to sift the relevant from the irrelevant. The correlation found between certain events and the study of their nature and mutual inter-action leads us to formulate a provisional explanation of the fact. But it is not necessary that our hypothesis should be correct.

It is to be purified, testing it on similar facts and if it is found to be incorrect it has to be discarded and a new one is to be formulated in its place. This process goes on till its truth is verified. Then comes the last stage of prediction which means that the generalisation established on the basis of observation of facts would be valid in future also if the conditions specified in our principle will, prevail.

The physical science can make true prediction but Sociology can give only rough prediction as its subject-matter is so varied and complex. Sociology thus cannot make direct use of Experimental Method as the human behaviour is too complex and difficult to be brought under controlled condition for observation, comparison and experimentation. Besides, there are not only no scientific aids to tend precision to sociological measurements but the factors which influence social phenomenon, such as human emotions and opinions, are also incapable of being precisely computed.

However, experiments are being made by observing the facts as they actually exist, by classifying them, establishing correlation between them, giving provisional explanations, formulating general sociological principles and trying to make prediction as their basis. As a matter of fact the use of scientific method differs from discipline to discipline according to nature of its subject-matter. Due to the peculiarities of human behaviour scientific method cannot be used to the same extent and in the same sense in Sociology in which it can be used in Physiological sciences.

So, it must be admitted that the hopes of sociology are not as bright as the hopes of physical sciences. Sociology has not yet developed-scientifically proved doctrines. As a matter of fact, the study of sociology is yet limited largely to descriptive analysis. It provides logical description and explanation of important social institutions. These analyses may contain some elements of scientism but they do not provide scientifically verifiable evidence and theories.

A physical scientist disallows his feelings dominating or influencing the subject in hand. But since social action— the subject matter of Sociology is complex and variously interpreted; it becomes difficult for a sociologist to maintain objectivity in its analysis. Objectivity needs scientific attitude, consistent thinking, stark pursuit of accurate data, stubborn determination to analyze the facts, analysis of cause and effect, open mind free from any kind of bias, like or dislike, and penetrative insight for deep observation.

It is not easy to obtain objectivity. Sociologists, always experience constraints imposed deliberately or informally, consciously or unconsciously upon them by the society. But that does not mean the abandonment of the objective of a generalising sociology. Although strict objectivity may not be attained, however, it is possible for a discriminative student of sociology to attain a reasonable amount of objectivity which will be consistent with logical and systematic thinking.

The Historical Method consists of a study of events, processes and institutions of past civilizations for the purpose of finding the origins or antecedents of contemporary social life and thus of understanding its nature and working.

History and Sociology are so much inter-related that some of the sociologists like G. Howard regard history to be past Sociology, and Sociology present History, it is evident that our present forms of social life, our customs or ways of living have their roots in the past and they can, therefore, be best explained when they are traced back to their sources.

This can be possible only with the help of History. Social heritage is another name for history. But this method cannot help us in studying all the problems of Sociology. The scope of Sociology cannot be limited to the study of facts provided by History. The historical facts, as contained in life histories, diaries, etc.

Further, the historical facts also run the risk of not being studied objectively by the interpreters. The Historical Method, therefore, was being not wholly adequate and dependable for the study of social phenomenon, calls for the employment of other methods for enquiry into field of sociology. The main task of Sociology, as we have seen, is to ascertain relations and inter-relation between different aspects of social life.

Sociology cannot make proper use of the experimental method and all its various stages of observation, classification, hypothesis, generalisation etc. But a sociologist can surely experiment in the laboratory of the world by employing the Comparative Method. Similarly, Weber also finds direct relation between the practical ethics of a community and character of its economic system.

But the application of this method is not as simple as it may appear. The first difficulty in the application of this method is that social units have different meanings in different countries. The institution of marriage, for instance, has different meanings for the people of India and for westerners. We consider it as an indissoluble sacred bond of union between husband and wife whereas the western people take it as a union of loose type breakable at the will of either party.

Sociology makes use of Inverse Deductive Method on a large scale. This method was advocated by J. Mill and involves the following procedure:. In the first place, it assumes that there is relation between different elements of social life. As we have mentioned above, Taylor had applied this method to the comparative and statistical study of the institutions connected with the family among the primitive peoples and showed that the practice of mother-in-law avoidance is co-related with the custom of matrilocal residence.

Similarly, it has been suggested that there is some relationship between industrialisation and capitalism, between urbanisation and disintegration of the family, between war and class differentiations and so on.

The rise of nobility and the extensive development of serfdom appear to be correlated with the growth of the economic system.

Undergraduate Courses

Main Topics

Privacy Policy

An introduction to research methods in Sociology covering quantitative, qualitative, primary and secondary data and defining the basic types of research method including social surveys, experiments, interviews, participant observation, ethnography and longitudinal studies.

Privacy FAQs

Sociological Research: Designs, Methods Sociologists use many different designs and methods to study society and social behavior. Most sociological research involves ethnography, or “field work” designed to depict the characteristics of a population as fully as possible.

About Our Ads

Although claims and opinions are part of sociology, sociologists use empirical evidence (that is, evidence corroborated by direct experience and/or observation) combined with the scientific method or an interpretive framework to deliver sound sociological research. They also rely on a theoretical foundation that provides an interpretive. Filter by Custom Post Type. Home» Sociology» Research Methods in Sociology. Research Methods in Sociology.

Cookie Info

Sociological knowledge has a strong empirical core, meaning that sociologists’ statements from research are based on data or evidence. Sociologists employ a variety of research methods that may follow the scientific method to evaluate formal hypotheses, or be more humanistic and focus on ways people themselves understand and describe their social worlds. Introduction to Sociology/Sociological Methods. From Wikibooks, open books for an open world Qualitative methods of sociological research tend to approach social phenomena from the Verstehen perspective. Rather than attempting to measure or quantify reality via mathematical rules, qualitative sociologists explore variation in the natural.