Category Archive for: Sociological research methods

Participant Observation

Participant Observation Sociologists who are interested in observing social interaction as it occurs may use participant observation. Participant observation refers to the process of collecting data while being part of the activities of the group that the researcher is studying. As this definition states, the researcher gains insight into some aspect of social life by participating in what is going on…

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Case Studies

Case Studies Most participant observation research takes the form of a c.lse study, which is often an in depth multifaceted investigation of a single event. person. or social grouping (Feagin, Orum, and Sjoberg. 1991). However, a case study mily also involve multiple cases and is then referred to as a collective oise study (Stake. 1995). Whether the case is single or…

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Ethnography An ethnography is a detailed study of the life and activities of a group of people by researchers who may live with that group over a period of years (Feagin. Orum, and Sjoberg. 1991). Although this approach is similar in some ways to participant observation, these studies typically take place over much longer periods of time. In fact. ethnography…

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Unstructured Interviews

Unstructured Interviews An unstructured interview is an extended, open-ended interaction between an interviewer and an interviewee. Th is type of interview is referred to as an unstructured; or non standardized. interview because few predetermined or standardized procedures are established for conducting  it. Because many decisions have to be made during the interview, this approach requires that the researcher have a high level…

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The Interview and Sampling Process

The Interview and Sampling Process Before conducting in-depth interviews, researchers must make a number of decisions, including how the people to be interviewed will be selected. Respondents for unstructured interviews are often chosen by “snowball sampling.” In snowball sampling; the researcher interviews a few individuals who possess a certain characteristic; these interviewees are then asked to supply the names of others with…

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Interviews and Theory

Interviews and Theory Construction In-depth interviews. along with participant observation and case studies. are frequently used to develop theories through observation. The term grounded theory was developed by sociologists Barney Glaser and Anselm Strauss (1967) to describe this inductive method of theory construction. Researchers who use grounded theory collect and analyze data simultaneously. For example. after in-depth interviews with 106 suicide attempts. researchers in…

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Strengths and Weaknesses of Field Research

Strengths and Weaknesses of Field Research Participant observation research. case studies pornography. and unstructured interviews provide opportunities for researchers to view £1 )IT inside what may not be obvious to an outside observer. They are useful when attitudes and behaviors can be understood best within their natural setting or when the researcher wants to study social processes and change over a period of…

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Experiments An experiment is a carefully designed situation in which the researcher studies the impact of certain variables 011 subjects’ attitudes or behavior. Experiments are designed to create “real-life”situations. ideally  under controlled circumstances, in which the influence of different variables can be modified and measured.

Types of Experiments

Types of Experiments Conventional experiments require that subjects be divided into two groups: an experimental group and a control group. The experimental group contains the subjects who are exposed to an Independent variable (the experimental condition) to study its effect on them. The control grOlip contains the subjects who are not exposed to the independent variable. The members of the two…

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Demonstrating Cause-and-Effect Relationships

Demonstrating Cause-and-Effect Relationships Researchers may use experiments when they want to demonstrate that a cause-and-effect relationship exists between variables. In order to show that a change in one variable causes a change in another, these three conditions must be fulfilled: 1. You must show that a correlation exists between the two variables. CorreIati~n exists when two variables are associated more frequently…

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