Qualitative And Quantitative Research Methods In Sociology Pdf

qualitative and quantitative research methods in sociology pdf

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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.

Published on June 12, by Pritha Bhandari.

Organizing Your Social Sciences Research Paper

Sociologists examine the world, see a problem or interesting pattern, and set out to study it. They use research methods to design a study—perhaps a detailed, systematic, scientific method for conducting research and obtaining data, or perhaps an ethnographic study utilizing an interpretive framework. Planning the research design is a key step in any sociological study.

When entering a particular social environment, a researcher must be careful. There are times to remain anonymous and times to be overt.

There are times to conduct interviews and times to simply observe. Some participants need to be thoroughly informed; others should not know they are being observed. This is called the Hawthorne effect —where people change their behavior because they know they are being watched as part of a study. The Hawthorne effect is unavoidable in some research.

In many cases, sociologists have to make the purpose of the study known. Subjects must be aware that they are being observed, and a certain amount of artificiality may result Sonnenfeld That option is not available to a researcher studying prison behaviors, early education, or the Ku Klux Klan. In situations like these, other methods are needed.

All studies shape the research design, while research design simultaneously shapes the study. Researchers choose methods that best suit their study topics and that fit with their overall approaches to research. Every research method comes with plusses and minuses, and the topic of study strongly influences which method or methods are put to use. As a research method, a survey collects data from subjects who respond to a series of questions about behaviors and opinions, often in the form of a questionnaire.

The survey is one of the most widely used scientific research methods. The standard survey format allows individuals a level of anonymity in which they can express personal ideas. Questionnaires are a common research method; the U.

Census is a well-known example. At some point, most people in the United States respond to some type of survey. The U. Census is an excellent example of a large-scale survey intended to gather sociological data. Not all surveys are considered sociological research, however, and many surveys people commonly encounter focus on identifying marketing needs and strategies rather than testing a hypothesis or contributing to social science knowledge.

A good contrast to these are the Nielsen Ratings, which determine the popularity of television programming through scientific market research. American Idol uses a real-time survey system—with numbers—that allows members in the audience to vote on contestants.

Sociologists conduct surveys under controlled conditions for specific purposes. Surveys gather different types of information from people. While surveys are not great at capturing the ways people really behave in social situations, they are a great method for discovering how people feel and think—or at least how they say they feel and think. Surveys can track preferences for presidential candidates or reported individual behaviors such as sleeping, driving, or texting habits or factual information such as employment status, income, and education levels.

A survey targets a specific population , people who are the focus of a study, such as college athletes, international students, or teenagers living with type 1 juvenile-onset diabetes. Most researchers choose to survey a small sector of the population, or a sample: that is, a manageable number of subjects who represent a larger population. The success of a study depends on how well a population is represented by the sample.

In a random sample , every person in a population has the same chance of being chosen for the study. According to the laws of probability, random samples represent the population as a whole.

For instance, a Gallup Poll, if conducted as a nationwide random sampling, should be able to provide an accurate estimate of public opinion whether it contacts 2, or 10, people. After selecting subjects, the researcher develops a specific plan to ask questions and record responses.

It is important to inform subjects of the nature and purpose of the study up front. If they agree to participate, researchers thank subjects and offer them a chance to see the results of the study if they are interested. The researcher presents the subjects with an instrument, which is a means of gathering the information. A common instrument is a questionnaire, in which subjects answer a series of questions. For some topics, the researcher might ask yes-or-no or multiple-choice questions, allowing subjects to choose possible responses to each question.

This kind of quantitative data —research collected in numerical form that can be counted—are easy to tabulate. In those cases, the answers are subjective and vary from person to person. How do plan to use your college education? Why do you follow Jimmy Buffett around the country and attend every concert? Those types of questions require short essay responses, and participants willing to take the time to write those answers will convey personal information about religious beliefs, political views, and morals.

Some topics that reflect internal thought are impossible to observe directly and are difficult to discuss honestly in a public forum. People are more likely to share honest answers if they can respond to questions anonymously.

This type of information is qualitative data —results that are subjective and often based on what is seen in a natural setting. Qualitative information is harder to organize and tabulate. The researcher will end up with a wide range of responses, some of which may be surprising.

The benefit of written opinions, though, is the wealth of material that they provide. An interview is a one-on-one conversation between the researcher and the subject, and it is a way of conducting surveys on a topic.

Interviews are similar to the short-answer questions on surveys in that the researcher asks subjects a series of questions. However, participants are free to respond as they wish, without being limited by predetermined choices.

In the back-and-forth conversation of an interview, a researcher can ask for clarification, spend more time on a subtopic, or ask additional questions. In an interview, a subject will ideally feel free to open up and answer questions that are often complex. There are no right or wrong answers. The subject might not even know how to answer the questions honestly. A researcher needs to avoid steering or prompting the subject to respond in a specific way; otherwise, the results will prove to be unreliable.

And, obviously, a sociological interview is not an interrogation. The work of sociology rarely happens in limited, confined spaces. Sociologists seldom study subjects in their own offices or laboratories.

Rather, sociologists go out into the world. They meet subjects where they live, work, and play. Field research refers to gathering primary data from a natural environment without doing a lab experiment or a survey. It is a research method suited to an interpretive framework rather than to the scientific method. To conduct field research, the sociologist must be willing to step into new environments and observe, participate, or experience those worlds.

In field work, the sociologists, rather than the subjects, are the ones out of their element. The researcher interacts with or observes a person or people and gathers data along the way. Sociological researchers travel across countries and cultures to interact with and observe subjects in their natural environments.

Field work is optimal for observing how people behave. It is less useful, however, for understanding why they behave that way. Much of the data gathered in field research are based not on cause and effect but on correlation.

And while field research looks for correlation, its small sample size does not allow for establishing a causal relationship between two variables. Business suits for the day job are replaced by leis and T-shirts for a Jimmy Buffett concert. Some sociologists study small groups of people who share an identity in one aspect of their lives.

Almost everyone belongs to a group of like-minded people who share an interest or hobby. Scientologists, folk dancers, or members of Mensa an organization for people with exceptionally high IQs express a specific part of their identity through their affiliation with a group.

Those groups are often of great interest to sociologists. Some of them have taken fandom to the extreme, making Parrothead culture a lifestyle. In , Parrotheads and their subculture caught the attention of researchers John Mihelich and John Papineau.

The two saw the way Jimmy Buffett fans collectively created an artificial reality. They wanted to know how fan groups shape culture. What Mihelich and Papineau found was that Parrotheads, for the most part, do not seek to challenge or even change society, as many sub-groups do.

In fact, most Parrotheads live successfully within society, holding upper-level jobs in the corporate world. What they seek is escape from the stress of daily life. At Jimmy Buffett concerts, Parrotheads engage in a form of role play. They paint their faces and dress for the tropics in grass skirts, Hawaiian leis, and Parrot hats.

In that sense, Parrothead culture is less about individualism and more about conformity. Being a Parrothead means sharing a specific identity. Many Parrothead fan groups have performed good works in the name of Jimmy Buffett culture, donating to charities and volunteering their services. However, the authors suggest that what really drives Parrothead culture is commercialism. Buffett made a lucrative career for himself by partnering with product companies and marketing Margaritaville in the form of T-shirts, restaurants, casinos, and an expansive line of products.

Some fans accuse Buffett of selling out, while others admire his financial success. Mihelich and Papineau gathered much of their information online. In conducting studies about pockets of culture, most sociologists seek to discover a universal appeal.

Research Methods

Qualitative research is a type of social science research that collects and works with non-numerical data and that seeks to interpret meaning from these data that help understand social life through the study of targeted populations or places. People often frame it in opposition to quantitative research , which uses numerical data to identify large-scale trends and employs statistical operations to determine causal and correlative relationships between variables. Within sociology, qualitative research is typically focused on the micro-level of social interaction that composes everyday life, whereas quantitative research typically focuses on macro-level trends and phenomena. Qualitative research has a long history in sociology and has been used within it for as long as the field has existed. This type of research has long appealed to social scientists because it allows the researchers to investigate the meanings people attribute to their behavior, actions, and interactions with others. While quantitative research is useful for identifying relationships between variables, like, for example, the connection between poverty and racial hate, it is qualitative research that can illuminate why this connection exists by going directly to the source—the people themselves.

The simple answer is that without it, our knowledge of the social world is limited to our immediate and limited life-experiences. Without some kind of systematic research, we cannot know the answer to even basic questions such as how many people live in the United Kingdom, let alone the answers to more complex questions about why working class children get worse results at school or why the crime rate has been falling every year since So the most basic reason for doing social research is to describe the social world around us: To find out what people think and feel about social issues and how these thoughts and feelings vary across social groups and regions. Without research, you simply do not know with any degree of certainty, what is going on in the world. However, most research has the aim of going beyond mere description. Sociologists typically limit themselves to a specific research topic and conduct research in order to achieve a research aim or sometimes to answer a specific question.

Home Consumer Insights Market Research. Different socio-economic groups belonging to different parts of a county think differently. Various aspects of human behavior need to be addressed to understand their thoughts and feedback about the social world, which can be done using Social Research. Any topic can trigger social research — new feature, new market trend or an upgrade in old technology. Select your respondents. Social Research is conducted by following a systematic plan of action which includes qualitative and quantitative observation methods. Social Research contains elements of both these methods to analyze a range of social occurrences such as an investigation of historical sites, census of the country, detailed analysis of research conducted to understand reasons for increased reports of molestation in the country etc.

Social research methods : qualitative and quantitative approaches

Sociologists examine the world, see a problem or interesting pattern, and set out to study it. They use research methods to design a study—perhaps a detailed, systematic, scientific method for conducting research and obtaining data, or perhaps an ethnographic study utilizing an interpretive framework. Planning the research design is a key step in any sociological study. When entering a particular social environment, a researcher must be careful. There are times to remain anonymous and times to be overt.

Quantitative methods emphasize objective measurements and the statistical, mathematical, or numerical analysis of data collected through polls, questionnaires, and surveys, or by manipulating pre-existing statistical data using computational techniques. Quantitative research focuses on gathering numerical data and generalizing it across groups of people or to explain a particular phenomenon. Babbie, Earl R. The Practice of Social Research. Your goal in conducting quantitative research study is to determine the relationship between one thing [an independent variable] and another [a dependent or outcome variable] within a population.

Qualitative and quantitative methods in health: definitions, differences and research subjects. Universidade Estadual de Campinas. Campinas, SP, Brasil. The interest and accomplishments in qualitative research have been increasing in health.

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An introduction to quantitative research

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For example, qualitative methods can be applied in conjunction with quantitative ones (see Chapter 14 “Mixed Methods Research” in this volume).

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