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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.
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.
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. Methodology in sociology refers to the scientific way that a researcher chooses to test a social theory or concept. Sociological methods include the same methods used in other social science disciplines, such as experimentation, observation, surveys, quasi-experiments, content analysis and focus groups.
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. 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.