What Methods Do Sociologists Use to Conduct Research?

Save

Four methods used by sociologists to conduct research are observation, survey and interview, experiment and secondary analysis. Each of these methods has its pros and cons. An observational study can be a jumping-off point for formulating questions, while an experiment is generally considered the most scientifically sound format. Surveys can assess attitudes and beliefs, while secondary analysis can look at a cluster of studies.

Observation

  • Sociologists often study group behavior by watching and recording what people do. A researcher may sit in the park and record when people choose to sit on an occupied bench. Though the sociologists is careful to be specific in recording choices, gender and age group of the people being observed, she does not do anything to change or influence what happens. Observation is often used to formulate a hypothesis that can later be tested using the experimental method. One hypothesis may be that people tend to choose an empty bench if one is available, and sit as far as possible from a person on an occupied bench.

Survey and Interview

  • When trying to investigate attitudes, observation is not very accurate. A researcher cannot see inside a person’s head to determine their attitudes or beliefs about sharing a park bench. The survey method is often used in this type of investigation, administers with a paper or computer programmed with set of multiple choice and open-ended short answer or essay questions. After the surveys are completed, the sociologist codes the answers and analyzes them with a statistical program. This analysis can determine whether there is a significant difference between the attitudes of one group and another. For example, men may be more accepting toward sharing a park bench with a stranger than women are, or vice versa.

Experiment

  • The experimental method of investigating sociological issues is generally accepted as the most reliable. In this model, one or several hypotheses are formulated and tested by manipulating variables to see their effects on the study participants. If a researcher hypothesizes that people will sit closer or farther apart depending on how well they know each other, he may set up a study in which participants are randomly selected and asked to meet at the park. Unseen, the researcher records the distance between the participants while sitting on a bench together.

Secondary Analysis

  • One method of studying sociological issues is to perform a secondary analysis on studies that have already been conducted. This approach can be controversial because different researchers use different populations, methodologies and statistical tests. However, secondary analysis can spot trends in group behavior that might be missed otherwise, since conducting multiple studies can be costly and time-consuming.

References

  • Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images
Promoted By Zergnet

Comments

You May Also Like

  • What is a Sociologist?

    Sociologists study how groups of people behave and function. Sociology is a branch of social science which also includes psychology, economics, anthropology...

  • Why Use Statistical Tools in Business?

    Statistics enable management to make informed, intelligent and sometimes predictive decisions, but statistical analysis is a complex science. Companies require highly-developed specialized...

  • How to Conduct a Newspaper Interview

    Newspaper interviews are used as the basis for crafting news articles about current events, interesting or unusual topics or delving into areas...

  • How to Design and Conduct Mixed Method Research

    Qualitative research methods provide ways of investigating verbal or written data. These methods are concerned with finding the themes and meanings of...

  • Qualitative Research Methods in Sociology

    The field of sociology employs both qualitative and quantitative research methods to create and confirm sociological theories. Qualitative research methods, as opposed...

  • What Are Two Types of Research Methods in Sociology?

    Sociology is an evidence-based discipline that relies on meticulously collected evidence and thorough documentation. Research conducted provides information and observed patterns relevant...

  • What Are the Most Common Methods of Data Collection That Sociologists Use?

    Sociology is the study of society and the individuals that inhabit it. Sociologists conduct research related to groups of people and organizations....

  • Why Do We Use Angles?

    Angles are used in everyday life by construction workers, surgeons, athletes and military personnel, as each of these careers require familiarity with...

Related Searches

Check It Out

How to Build and Grow a Salad Garden On Your Balcony

M
Is DIY in your DNA? Become part of our maker community.
Submit Your Work!