Research methods….

Types of Research in Sociology
1.Positivist Sociology
– Based upon scientific observation
– Empirical evidence objective
2.Interpretive Sociology
– Focused upon the meaning people attach to
their social world
– Verstahen……
3.Critical Sociology
– Focused on need for social change
– Emphasizes social activism
– Rejects idea of value free sociology
Weber’s Concept of Verstehen
sociologist’s role
German word for
• Observe what people do
• Share in their world of
• Appreciate why they act
as they do
Summing Up
Sociological Research Methods
• Research methods….the scientific
procedures sociologists use to conduct
research and develop knowledge about a
particular topic
• Sociologists use a variety of research
– Quantitative data refers to data based on
– Qualitative data that is non-numeric form
(words, pictures)
Basic steps of social research
1. Select a topic
2. Define the problem
3. Review the literature
1. Literature review …. Study of existing
research on topic
4. Formulate a hypothesis
1. … what will data show?
Choose a research method
Collecting the data
Analyze the results
Share the results
1st consideration - objectivity
– Objectivity the ability to conduct research
without the influence of personal bias or
• Personal neutrality
– Value-free sociology – neutral and dedicated
to finding the truth as it is.
– Validity
Research Methods:
Four main methods of sociological
• experiments
• surveys
• Fieldwork and participant observation
• Analysis of existing sources
• Research method for determining cause and
effect under controlled conditions
• Use variables…..Any measurable condition,
event, characteristic, or behaviors - controlled
or observed in a study
• Use variables for measurement …procedure
for determining value of variable
• Shows relationship between two variables
• Operationalization Research variables that
are clearly defined so that they may be
concretely measured.
Correlation is NOT Causation
Cause and effect
• Relationship in which
• Relationship in which two
(or more) variables change
change in one variable
causes change in
• An indication of a
relationship between
• an indication that one factor might be the
cause for another factor
– Positive correlation variables move in same
– Negative correlation variables move in
opposite directions
– Spurious correlation two variables appear
to be related - actually have a different cause
Critical terms in sociological research
• In sociological research one uses variables
– Independent variables ….are deliberately
manipulated in an experiment.
– Dependent variables ….the response to the
manipulated variable
– Control variables … variables kept constant
to accurately test the impact of an
independent variable
Steps of the Experiment
State which variable
is the independent
variable and which
is the dependent
Measure the initial
value of the
dependent variable
Measure the
dependent variable
again to see what
change, if any, took
If the expected change
took place, the
experiment supports
the hypothesis; if not,
the hypothesis must be
Expose the
dependent variable
to the independent
variable (the “cause”
or “treatment”)
• survey an investigation of the opinions or
experience of a group of people by asking
– Questionnaires and interview (questions face
to face)
– Usually targeted at particular populations
– Questions
• neutral
• Open ended
• Close ended
• population….. target groups from which
researchers want to get information
• representative Sample….representative of
• random Sample…chosen arbitrarily from pop
Observation or field research
• Field research is research conducted in a
natural setting
• Ethnography…studying people in their own
environment in order to understand the
meanings they attribute to their activities. A
firsthand, description of a living culture,
based on personal observation.
– Participant observation ….research where
the observers act as person normally in the
– Case Studies investigation of one person or
event in detail
Existing Sources
Analysis of data that has been previously
collected and published
Newspapers, books, public records, media,
social media
Census data
Other demographic data
Using Available Data: Existing Sources
make use of
sources of
• U.S. Census Bureau
• United Nations
• World Bank
• Data form
• Data accuracy
Research Ethics
Sociologists must
be aware that
research can harm
as well as help
subjects and
• Established formal
guidelines for
conducting research
Ethics in research
Ethics a system of values or principles that guide
one’s behavior –
– Get consent of subjects
– treat subjects with respect
– Exhibit integrity
– Follow professional principles
– Let subjects know they may cease participation
at any time.
Evaluating and Sharing Data
• Evaluating and interpreting data are
important parts of conducting research.
• important to accurately interpret and share
data you collect so others can interpret
your results