Qualitative research methods have a long and distinguished history within sociology. Today, qualitative sociology encompasses a variety of specific procedures for collecting data, ranging from life history interviews to direct observation of social interaction to embedded participant observation. In all of these cases, the social scientist directly interacts with those whom he or she is studying. The social scientist attempts to see the world from their perspective and to interpret their practices in a meaningful way.
In fact, scholars such as Howard Becker and Clifford Geertz have argued that the ultimate test of the validity of a qualitative research study is whether it produces an account of social action that would make sense to the actors themselves. As this would imply, the foundational logic underlying qualitative studies differs from that of variable-oriented quantitative research. The latter measures particular properties of social phenomena and then uses statistical models to determine patterns of association among these properties, or variables.
Because these models require a larger number of cases to establish statistically significant associations, quantitative researchers necessarily must sacrifice depth for breadth. Qualitative researchers, in contrast, are comfortable working with a small number of cases, or even a single case. They have at their disposal a variety of assumptions, theories, and methods to produce rich accounts of social life. In addition, qualitative research can offer unique insight into the relationship between microsocial and macrosocial worlds and even global forces.
The following texts offer the interested reader a general introduction to basic principles and debates associated with qualitative research methods. Ross and Abbott situate these methods in historical context. During the first half of the 20th century, ethnographic field research was the gold standard for sociology—especially at the famed Chicago school. The same was true in much of Europe, as Masson describes in the case of France. Katz , Burawoy , and Steinmetz , in turn, defend ethnography against recent critiques that it does not represent a legitimate mode of inquiry according to the standards of positivist science.
That such debates are intertwined with larger moral concerns is demonstrated by Smith and Van Manen , both of which argue that qualitative methods are uniquely suited to study the lives of oppressed and subaltern groups. Chicago sociology at one hundred. The extended case method. Sociological Methods and Research Addresses the question how qualitative researchers can justify, or warrant, their case studies in relation to potentially hostile audiences who adhere to a mainstream quantitative view.
Faire de la sociologie: Currently available only in French, this book covers the history of qualitative field methods in French sociology, especially the diffusion of ideas from the United States. The origins of American social science. A comprehensive study of the history of sociology in America, this book argues that the legitimacy of qualitative research has been tied to the preeminence of various universities, departments, and faculties.
Variables are easy to identify and results can be generalized to larger populations. However, there are also disadvantages to quantitative methods. For instance, they can't explain why social phenomena occur - they just quantify the fact that they do. They don't take into account the emotions, motives, imagination, beliefs, etc.
Of course, there's also the fact that not all social phenomena can be counted or measured in quantifiable ways. For instance, how would you describe a funeral ceremony using numbers? In situations like this, social scientists use qualitative research , which is based on data that cannot be measured or counted, but can be collected and interpreted through observation.
This type of research focuses on why and how social phenomena occur. Instead of numbers that can be analyzed using statistics, the data is in the form of descriptive words that can be examined for patterns or meaning. For example, imagine you wanted to study the behavior of monkeys that live in the zoo. Using qualitative research, you might watch the monkeys every day and write your observations in a journal.
When the study was over, you would go back through the journal to try and find patterns of behavior, such as daily habits. Get access risk-free for 30 days, just create an account. Qualitative research is also called descriptive research because its purpose is to describe social occurrences. It can be conducted in focus groups, interviews or simple observation of social events as they happen in real life. The data is collected by the researcher himself or herself instead of through the inventories, questionnaires and other means used for quantitative research.
This can be both a good thing and a bad thing. The researcher can gain an empathetic understanding of the behavior of others, but the data collection is bound to be subjective and can even include bias. Due to the personal involvement of the researcher, it's practically impossible to stay impartial. However, qualitative research can provide a wealth of in-depth information and even explain findings from a quantitative study. For example, conducting qualitative research on jaywalking could explain why certain people jaywalk while others do not instead of simply pointing out the fact that they do.
In summary, research in the social sciences occurs in many different forms and can be divided into two basic types: Quantitative research is based on numerical data, which can be analyzed using statistics. In contrast, qualitative research , also called descriptive research, is based on data that cannot be measured or counted, but can be collected and interpreted through observation. There are advantages and disadvantages for each type of research. Quantitative research can use statistics to extrapolate data and predict how people will behave in the future.
However, they can't explain why social phenomena occur - they just quantify the fact that they do. Qualitative research does do this and often incites empathetic understanding. It can provide a wealth of in-depth information and even explain findings from a quantitative study. However, it's common for qualitative research to include bias. To unlock this lesson you must be a Study. Did you know… We have over college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1, colleges and universities.
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Find a degree that fits your goals. Qualitative Research In this lesson, we identify the differences between quantitative and qualitative research methods in the social sciences. We also discuss the advantages and disadvantages of each approach. Qualitative Research Quiz Course. Try it risk-free for 30 days. An error occurred trying to load this video. Try refreshing the page, or contact customer support.
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Strategies for Choosing a Data Collection Technique. The True Experimental Research Design. What is Qualitative Research? Diversity and Intercultural Communication. Test Practice and Study Guide. In this lesson, we identify the differences between quantitative and qualitative research methods in the social sciences.
Research in the Social Sciences Research is an extremely important part of sociology, psychology and all of the other social sciences.
Quantitative Research The first type of research that social scientists use is quantitative research , which is based on numerical data, which can be analyzed using statistics.
Quantitative research produces statistics that can be used to predict behaviors. Qualitative Research Of course, there's also the fact that not all social phenomena can be counted or measured in quantifiable ways. Qualitative research is performed by observation and descriptive note taking.
Try it risk-free No obligation, cancel anytime. Want to learn more? Select a subject to preview related courses: Lesson Summary In summary, research in the social sciences occurs in many different forms and can be divided into two basic types: Learning Outcome After this lesson, you'll be able to: Differentiate between quantitative and qualitative research Explain the advantages and disadvantages of each Describe how the two types of research can be used together to study the same issue.
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You are viewing lesson Lesson 5 in chapter 3 of the course:. Intro to Sociology 14 chapters lessons 10 flashcard sets. Theories of Individual Social Sex and Gender in Race and Ethnicity in
Qualitative research has a long history in sociology and has been used within it for as long as the field itself has existed. This type of research has long appealed to social scientists because it allows the research to investigate the meanings that people attribute to their behavior, actions, and interactions with others.
INTRODUCING QUALITATIVE METHODS provides a series of volumes which introduce qualitative research to the student and beginning researcher. The approach is interdisciplinary and.
Qualitative research methods have a long and distinguished history within sociology. They trace their roots back to Max Weber’s call for an interpretive understanding of action. Today, qualitative sociology encompasses a variety of specific procedures for collecting data, ranging from life history. Qualitative research is also called descriptive research because its purpose is to describe social occurrences. It can be conducted in focus groups, interviews or simple observation of social events as they happen in real life.
Qualitative Research in Sociology offers a hands-on guide to doing qualitative research in sociology. It provides an introductory survey of the methodological and theoretical dimensions of qualitative research as practiced by those interested in the study of social life. Qualitative Research in Sociology offers a hands-on guide to doing qualitative research in sociology. It provides an introductory survey of the methodological and theoretical dimensions of qualitative research as practiced by those interested in the study of social life.5/5(1).