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Sociology | Class 11 | Research Methods in sociology


Sociology covers known issues more than any other field. We all live in society, therefore we're familiar with social groupings, organisations, norms, relationships, etc.

Sociology helps us comprehend issues that affect us as individuals and as members of larger organisations.

Sociology studies people's lives. Sociologists want to know not only what a bystander observes, but also the participants' beliefs and attitudes while studying friendship, religion, or market trading. Sociologists try to see the world as their subjects do.

Sociological study offers data, information, etc. Each has its own meaning, yet they all relate to 'proof' Evidence supports a claim. It's also information from multiple sources. Research provides sociological data.

Some methodological concerns

We begin by considering how sociologists attempt to generate knowledge that can be called scientific.

Objectivity and subjectivity in sociology

To be objective about anything, we must disregard our personal feelings or ideas towards it. The term'subjective,' on the other hand, refers to something that is founded on personal values and preferences.


  • Social scientists investigate the world in which they live - the social realm of human relationships. This poses unique challenges to objectivity in a social science like sociology.

  • First and foremost, there is the obvious issue of partiality. Because sociologists are also members of society, they will have all of the same loves and dislikes as everyone else.

  • When investigating a caste or religious community other than her own, for example, the sociologist may be influenced by opinions toward that community prevalent in her own past or present social context.

How do sociologists protect themselves from these dangers?

  • By severely and repeatedly questioning one's own ideas and sentiments regarding the research topic.

  • Self-reflexivity: viewing the work from an outsider's perspective and viewing the research through the eyes of others. However, no matter how self-reflective the sociologist is, there is always the chance of unconscious bias.

To address this issue, sociologists expressly disclose aspects of their own social history that may be significant as a potential source of prejudice on the topic under investigation. This warns readers to the danger of bias and gives them the opportunity to mentally 'compensate' for it while reading the research paper.

  • By actively assuming the viewpoints of people being studied.

  • Making comprehensive record of what is being done, all procedures carried out, and formal citation of all sources of proof.


  • Subjectivity refers to mental information that belongs to the thinking subject rather than the object of thought.

  • People attach meaning to their actions, and while conducting sociological study, the researcher must recognise this and seek to interpret those meanings.

  • Sociological research is guided by ideals that are cultural artefacts, and the status of knowledge varies by culture due to its subjective nature.

  • When conducting social research, the sociologist should not ignore the subjectivity of the social world; rather, he or she should use it to interpret meanings that will provide answers to the research questions.

Multiple methods and choice of methods

It is hardly unexpected that there are different methodologies in sociology, given that there are multiple truths and multiple perspectives. There is no single path to social truth.

Each strategy has advantages and disadvantages. Arguing about the superiority or inferiority of various methods is thus pointless.

Quantitative vs qualitative research

Quantitative research is concerned with variables that can be counted or measured. Example-survey.

Qualitative research is concerned with more abstract and difficult to quantify variables such as attitudes, emotions, values, and so on. Interview, observation, content analysis of paintings, ads, and so on are some examples.

Primary research vs. secondary research

Primary research is intended to generate new or 'primary' data. Interviews yield main data.

Secondary research is based on'secondary' or already collected data (in the form of documents or other records and artefacts). Secondary material collected in archives is frequently used in historical methods.

Survey method

A survey is a type of quantitative macro research. Questionnaires are the primary method of data collecting in surveys. It is an attempt to present a condensed view of the same subject.

(a) It is used to gather data about people's views, beliefs, and behaviour.

(b) it entails gathering standardised data from the population being investigated. (c) standardised information is acquired by asking all respondents the same questions in the same order.

Advantages of survey

  • It enables generalisation of results for a large population by investigating only a tiny sample of the population.

  • using a survey, one can study with manageable investments of time, effort, and money.

  • Despite being selective, the sample survey is able to produce a generalizable result by utilising the discoveries of a branch of statistics known as sampling theory.

A similar contrast is made between approaches that research observable behaviour and those that study non-observable meanings, values, and other interpretive factors.

Another way to categorise methods is to separate those that rely on secondary or already existing data (in the form of documents or other records and artefacts) from those that are designed to generate new or 'primary' data. Thus, most historical approaches rely on secondary information available in archives, whereas interviews yield primary data, and so on.

Another approach of categorising is to distinguish between'micro' and'macro' methods. The former are intended to be used in small intimate settings, typically with a single researcher; consequently, interviews and participant observation are considered micro techniques. Macro methods are ones that can handle big-scale research with a huge number of respondents and investigators.

Whatever classification method is used, it is crucial to remember that it is a question of convention. The distinction between different types of approaches does not have to be especially sharp.

The nature of the research issue being addressed, the researcher's preferences, and time and/or resource restrictions usually dictate the method of choice.


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