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. Research work provides legitimacy to the sociological work.
- Widely used by the early sociologists.
- Mostly used in Positivism and Non-Positivism.
- These methods use a systematic and scientific investigation of quantitative properties of a phenomenon.
- Data collection is the primary aim and they use an inductive approach.
- Quantitative data is easy to represent through tables, graphs, pie charts and other curves.
- Various types of quantitative methods are Statistics, Multivariate Analysis, Surveys, Structured Interviews, Sampling, etc
- Durkheim used this in his theory of Suicide.
- More objectivity
- Easy measurement
- No expertise required
- Easy to check validity and reliability
- Reproducibility is higher
- Less useful if sample size is more
- Cannot be used for non-observable attributes
- Not descriptive
- Only little information available
- It is the examination and interpretation of observations for the purpose of discovering underlying meaning and patterns.
- Help in discovering meanings, patterns, symbols, motives, etc.
- Deductivism is often used as the basic approach.
- Weber pioneered interpretivist approach and used Verstehen and Ideal Types.
- Types of qualitative methods are Observation method, Structured interviews, Focus group discussion, Case studies, etc
- Gives the whole picture
- Data collection is flexible
- Widens the scope of sociology
- Thorough analysis
- Requires expertise
- Trained investigator
- Checking validity and reliability is difficult
- Cumbersome if sample is large
- Methods are the ways of conducting research.
- Data collection and analysis are twin objectives of any methods.
- Broadly, there are quantitative and qualitative methods.
- Attempts were made to reconcile the differences between two broad methods.
- Eg : Hybrids like Socio Logic by Michel Mann in 1980s and Triangulation Method by Norman Denzin