Sociological methods


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Types of research

Descriptive research - aims to only descrive what is being studied to gather information and to increase our knowledge of the social world.

Explanatory research - starts with description but goes on to look for the causes of social phenomena. It looks for the causes of problems, social or sociological.

Action research - actively involved in planning and introducing some change of policy and practice in a particular setting and then studying the impact of the change as it happens in order to evaluate its effects.

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Types of approaches

Positivist - this argues that social phenomena are as real and objective as natural phenomena and that sociologists should study only what they can objectively see, measure and count. It further argues that sociologists should use methods that produce quantitative data, aim to avoid personal involvement and produce value-free evidence - not influenced by the personal views of the researcher.

Interpretevist - this argues that social phenomena are different from natural phenomena and that pepole are active, conscious beings who act with intention and purpose. Social researchers need methods that enable them to investigate these shared understandings, generating qualitative data.

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