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Sociological Research: Designs, Methods

❶Social research is based on logic and empirical observations.

Case study research

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Types of Sociology

Subject bias is common, because volunteer subjects may not be representative of the general public. Individuals who agree to observation and monitoring may function differently than those who do not. They may also function differently in a laboratory setting than they do in other settings. A social researcher can use case studies, surveys, interviews, and observational research to discover correlations.

In a negative correlation, one variable increases as the other decreases. In a nonexistent correlation, no relationship exists between the variables. People commonly confuse correlation with causation. When a correlation exists, changes in the value of one variable reflect changes in the value of the other. The correlation does not imply that one variable causes the other, only that both variables somehow relate to one another.

To study the effects that variables have on each other, an investigator must conduct an experiment. A number of factors can affect the outcome of any type of experimental research. One is finding samples that are random and representative of the population being studied. Another is experimenter bias , in which the researcher's expectations about what should or should not happen in the study sway the results.

Still another is controlling for extraneous variables , such as room temperature or noise level, that may interfere with the results of the experiment.

Only when the experimenter carefully controls for extraneous variables can she or he draw valid conclusions about the effects of specific variables on other variables. An advantage of this method of research is the opportunity it provides to study what actually occurs within a community, and then consider that information within the political, economic, social, and religious systems of that community.

Removing book from your Reading List will also remove any bookmarked pages associated with this title. Are you sure you want to remove bookConfirmation and any corresponding bookmarks? The first formal Department of Sociology in the world was established by Albion Small - at the invitation of William Rainey Harper - at the University of Chicago in , and the American Journal of Sociology was founded shortly thereafter in by Small as well.

While Durkheim rejected much of the detail of Comte's philosophy, he retained and refined its method, maintaining that the social sciences are a logical continuation of the natural ones into the realm of human activity, and insisting that they may retain the same objectivity, rationalism, and approach to causality.

Durkheim's monograph, Suicide is considered a seminal work in statistical analysis by contemporary sociologists. Suicide is a case study of variations in suicide rates among Catholic and Protestant populations, and served to distinguish sociological analysis from psychology or philosophy. It also marked a major contribution to the theoretical concept of structural functionalism. By carefully examining suicide statistics in different police districts, he attempted to demonstrate that Catholic communities have a lower suicide rate than that of Protestants, something he attributed to social as opposed to individual or psychological causes.

He developed the notion of objective sui generis "social facts" to delineate a unique empirical object for the science of sociology to study. Sociology quickly evolved as an academic response to the perceived challenges of modernity , such as industrialization , urbanization , secularization , and the process of " rationalization ". By the turn of the 20th century, however, many theorists were active in the English-speaking world. Few early sociologists were confined strictly to the subject, interacting also with economics , jurisprudence , psychology and philosophy , with theories being appropriated in a variety of different fields.

Since its inception, sociological epistemology, methods, and frames of inquiry, have significantly expanded and diverged. Durkheim, Marx, and the German theorist Max Weber — are typically cited as the three principal architects of sociology.

Curricula also may include Charlotte Perkins Gilman , Marianne Weber and Friedrich Engels as founders of the feminist tradition in sociology. Each key figure is associated with a particular theoretical perspective and orientation.

Marx and Engels associated the emergence of modern society above all with the development of capitalism; for Durkheim it was connected in particular with industrialization and the new social division of labor which this brought about; for Weber it had to do with the emergence of a distinctive way of thinking, the rational calculation which he associated with the Protestant Ethic more or less what Marx and Engels speak of in terms of those 'icy waves of egotistical calculation'.

Together the works of these great classical sociologists suggest what Giddens has recently described as 'a multidimensional view of institutions of modernity' and which emphasises not only capitalism and industrialism as key institutions of modernity, but also 'surveillance' meaning 'control of information and social supervision' and 'military power' control of the means of violence in the context of the industrialisation of war.

The overarching methodological principle of positivism is to conduct sociology in broadly the same manner as natural science. An emphasis on empiricism and the scientific method is sought to provide a tested foundation for sociological research based on the assumption that the only authentic knowledge is scientific knowledge, and that such knowledge can only arrive by positive affirmation through scientific methodology.

Our main goal is to extend scientific rationalism to human conduct What has been called our positivism is but a consequence of this rationalism. The term has long since ceased to carry this meaning; there are no fewer than twelve distinct epistemologies that are referred to as positivism. The extent of antipositivist criticism has also diverged, with many rejecting the scientific method and others only seeking to amend it to reflect 20th-century developments in the philosophy of science.

However, positivism broadly understood as a scientific approach to the study of society remains dominant in contemporary sociology, especially in the United States. Durkheimian , Logical, and Instrumental. Durkheim maintained that the social sciences are a logical continuation of the natural ones into the realm of human activity, and insisted that they should retain the same objectivity, rationalism, and approach to causality.

The variety of positivism that remains dominant today is termed instrumental positivism. This approach eschews epistemological and metaphysical concerns such as the nature of social facts in favour of methodological clarity, replicability , reliability and validity.

Since it carries no explicit philosophical commitment, its practitioners may not belong to any particular school of thought.

Modern sociology of this type is often credited to Paul Lazarsfeld , [34] who pioneered large-scale survey studies and developed statistical techniques for analysing them. This approach lends itself to what Robert K.

Merton called middle-range theory: Reactions against social empiricism began when German philosopher Hegel voiced opposition to both empiricism, which he rejected as uncritical, and determinism, which he viewed as overly mechanistic. Early hermeneuticians such as Wilhelm Dilthey pioneered the distinction between natural and social science ' Geisteswissenschaft '.

Various neo-Kantian philosophers, phenomenologists and human scientists further theorized how the analysis of the social world differs to that of the natural world due to the irreducibly complex aspects of human society, culture , and being.

At the turn of the 20th century the first generation of German sociologists formally introduced methodological anti-positivism , proposing that research should concentrate on human cultural norms , values , symbols , and social processes viewed from a resolutely subjective perspective.

Max Weber argued that sociology may be loosely described as a science as it is able to identify causal relationships of human " social action "—especially among " ideal types ", or hypothetical simplifications of complex social phenomena. By 'action' in this definition is meant the human behaviour when and to the extent that the agent or agents see it as subjectively meaningful In neither case is the 'meaning' to be thought of as somehow objectively 'correct' or 'true' by some metaphysical criterion.

This is the difference between the empirical sciences of action, such as sociology and history, and any kind of prior discipline, such as jurisprudence, logic, ethics, or aesthetics whose aim is to extract from their subject-matter 'correct' or 'valid' meaning.

Both Weber and Georg Simmel pioneered the " Verstehen " or 'interpretative' method in social science; a systematic process by which an outside observer attempts to relate to a particular cultural group, or indigenous people, on their own terms and from their own point of view.

Relatively isolated from the sociological academy throughout his lifetime, Simmel presented idiosyncratic analyses of modernity more reminiscent of the phenomenological and existential writers than of Comte or Durkheim, paying particular concern to the forms of, and possibilities for, social individuality.

The deepest problems of modern life flow from the attempt of the individual to maintain the independence and individuality of his existence against the sovereign powers of society, against the weight of the historical heritage and the external culture and technique of life. The antagonism represents the most modern form of the conflict which primitive man must carry on with nature for his own bodily existence.

Ward , the first president of the American Sociological Association, published Dynamic Sociology—Or Applied social science as based upon statical sociology and the less complex sciences and attacked the laissez-faire sociology of Herbert Spencer and Sumner.

In , the oldest continuing American course in the modern tradition began at the University of Kansas , lectured by Frank W. An introduction to the study of society Sociology in the United States was less historically influenced by Marxism than its European counterpart, and to this day broadly remains more statistical in its approach.

Weber established the first department in Germany at the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich in , having presented an influential new antipositivist sociology. The Institute for Social Research at the University of Frankfurt later to become the Frankfurt School of critical theory was founded in The contemporary discipline of sociology is theoretically multi-paradigmatic [72] as a result of the contentions of classical social theory.

In Randall Collins ' well-cited survey of sociological theory [73] he retroactively labels various theorists as belonging to four theoretical traditions: Functionalism, Conflict, Symbolic Interactionism, and Utilitarianism. Utilitarianism , also known as Rational Choice or Social Exchange, although often associated with economics , is an established tradition within sociological theory.

It was the dominant theoretical stance in American sociology from around to [78] and is associated with several founders of sociology, primarily Herbert Spencer , Lester F. Ward and William Graham Sumner. Contemporary sociological theory retains traces of each of these traditions and they are by no means mutually exclusive. A broad historical paradigm in both sociology and anthropology , functionalism addresses the social structure , referred to as social organization in among the classical theorists, as a whole and regarding the necessary function of its constituent elements.

A common analogy popularized by Herbert Spencer is to regard norms and institutions as 'organs' that work towards the proper-functioning of the entire 'body' of society.

It is in Radcliffe-Brown's specific usage that the prefix 'structural' emerged. Biology has been taken to provide a guide to conceptualizing the structure and the function of social systems and to analysing processes of evolution via mechanisms of adaptation.

Functionalist theories emphasize "cohesive systems" and are often contrasted with "conflict theories", which critique the overarching socio-political system or emphasize the inequality between particular groups. The following quotes from Durkheim and Marx epitomize the political, as well as theoretical, disparities, between functionalist and conflict thought respectively:. To aim for a civilisation beyond that made possible by the nexus of the surrounding environment will result in unloosing sickness into the very society we live in.

Collective activity cannot be encouraged beyond the point set by the condition of the social organism without undermining health. The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles. Freeman and slave, patrician and plebeian, lord and serf, guild-master and journeyman, in a word, oppressor and oppressed, stood in constant opposition to one another, carried on an uninterrupted, now hidden, now open fight, a fight that each time ended, either in a revolutionary re-constitution of society at large, or in the common ruin of the contending classes.

Symbolic interaction ; often associated with Interactionism , Phenomenological sociology , Dramaturgy , Interpretivism , is a sociological tradition that places emphasis on subjective meanings and the empirical unfolding of social processes, generally accessed through micro-analysis. Society is nothing more than the shared reality that people construct as they interact with one another. This approach sees people interacting in countless settings using symbolic communications to accomplish the tasks at hand.

Therefore, society is a complex, ever-changing mosaic of subjective meanings. It is also in this tradition that the radical-empirical approach of Ethnomethodology emerges from the work of Harold Garfinkel. Utilitarianism is often referred to as exchange theory or rational choice theory in the context of sociology.

This tradition tends to privilege the agency of individual rational actors and assumes that within interactions individuals always seek to maximize their own self-interest.

As argued by Josh Whitford , rational actors are assumed to have four basic elements, the individual has 1 "a knowledge of alternatives," 2 "a knowledge of, or beliefs about the consequences of the various alternatives," 3 "an ordering of preferences over outcomes," 4 "A decision rule, to select among the possible alternatives" [88] Exchange theory is specifically attributed to the work of George C. Homans , Peter Blau and Richard Emerson. March and Herbert A. Simon noted that an individual's rationality is bounded by the context or organizational setting.

The utilitarian perspective in sociology was, most notably, revitalized in the late 20th century by the work of former ASA president James Coleman. Following the decline of theories of sociocultural evolution, in the United States, the interactionism of the Chicago School dominated American sociology.

As Anselm Strauss describes, "We didn't think symbolic interaction was a perspective in sociology; we thought it was sociology. Ultimately, "the failure of the Chicago, Columbia, and Wisconsin [sociology] departments to produce a significant number of graduate students interested in and committed to general theory in the years —45 was to the advantage of the Harvard department.

In addition to Parsons' revision of the sociological canon which included Marshall, Pareto, Weber and Durkheim , the lack of theoretical challenges from other departments nurtured the rise of the Parsonian structural-functionalist movement, which reached its crescendo in the s, but by the s was in rapid decline.

By the s, most functionalisms in Europe had broadly been replaced by conflict -oriented approaches [92] and to many in the discipline, functionalism was considered "as dead as a dodo. This third 'generation' of social theory includes phenomenologically inspired approaches, critical theory, ethnomethodology, symbolic interactionism, structuralism, post-structuralism, and theories written in the tradition of hermeneutics and ordinary language philosophy.

While some conflict approaches also gained popularity in the United States, the mainstream of the discipline instead shifted to a variety of empirically oriented middle-range theories with no single overarching, or "grand", theoretical orientation. John Levi Martin refers to this "golden age of methodological unity and theoretical calm" as the Pax Wisconsana , [95] as it reflected the composition of the sociology department at the University of Wisconsin—Madison: The structuralist movement originated primarily from the work of Durkheim as interpreted by two European anthropologists.

In this context, 'structure' refers not to 'social structure' but to the semiotic understanding of human culture as a system of signs. One may delineate four central tenets of structuralism: First, structure is what determines the structure of a whole. Second, structuralists believe that every system has a structure.

Third, structuralists are interested in 'structural' laws that deal with coexistence rather than changes. Finally, structures are the 'real things' beneath the surface or the appearance of meaning.

The second tradition of structuralist thought, contemporaneous with Giddens, emerges from the American school of social network analysis, [99] spearheaded by the Harvard Department of Social Relations led by Harrison White and his students in the s and s. This tradition of structuralist thought argues that, rather than semiotics, social structure is networks of patterned social relations. And, rather than Levi-Strauss, this school of thought draws on the notions of structure as theorized by Levi-Strauss' contemporary anthropologist, Radcliffe-Brown.

Post-structuralist thought has tended to reject 'humanist' assumptions in the conduct of social theory. The anti-humanist position has been associated with " postmodernism ", a term used in specific contexts to describe an era or phenomena , but occasionally construed as a method.

Overall, there is a strong consensus regarding the central problems of sociological theory, which are largely inherited from the classical theoretical traditions. The first deals with knowledge , the second with action , and the last with time. Lastly, sociological theory often grapples with the problem of integrating or transcending the divide between micro, meso and macro-scale social phenomena, which is a subset of all three central problems.

The problem of subjectivity and objectivity can be divided into a concern over the general possibilities of social actions, and, on the other hand the specific problem of social scientific knowledge. In the former, the subjective is often equated though not necessarily with the individual, and the individual's intentions and interpretations of the objective. The objective is often considered any public or external action or outcome, on up to society writ large.

A primary question for social theorists is how knowledge reproduces along the chain of subjective-objective-subjective, that is to say: While, historically, qualitative methods have attempted to tease out subjective interpretations, quantitative survey methods also attempt to capture individual subjectivities. Also, some qualitative methods take a radical approach to objective description in situ.

The latter concern with scientific knowledge results from the fact that a sociologist is part of the very object they seek to explain. Bourdieu puts this problem rather succinctly: How can the sociologist effect in practice this radical doubting which is indispensable for bracketing all the presuppositions inherent in the fact that she is a social being, that she is therefore socialised and led to feel "like a fish in water" within that social world whose structures she has internalised?

How can she prevent the social world itself from carrying out the construction of the object, in a sense, through her, through these unself-conscious operations or operations unaware of themselves of which she is the apparent subject.

Structure and agency, sometimes referred to as determinism versus voluntarism, [] form an enduring ontological debate in social theory: Discussions over the primacy of either structure and agency relate to the core of sociological epistemology "What is the social world made of? Synchrony and diachrony, or statics and dynamics, within social theory are terms that refer to a distinction emerging out of the work of Levi-Strauss who inherited it from the linguistics of Ferdinand de Saussure.

Diachrony, on the other hand, attempts to analyse dynamic sequences. Following Saussure, synchrony would refer to social phenomena as a static concept like a language , while diachrony would refer to unfolding processes like actual speech. In Anthony Giddens' introduction to Central Problems in Social Theory , he states that, "in order to show the interdependence of action and structure In terms of sociology, historical sociology is often better positioned to analyse social life as diachronic, while survey research takes a snapshot of social life and is thus better equipped to understand social life as synchronized.

Some argue that the synchrony of social structure is a methodological perspective rather than an ontological claim. Many people divide sociological research methods into two broad categories, although many others see research methods as a continuum: Many sociologists are divided into camps of support for particular research techniques. These disputes relate to the epistemological debates at the historical core of social theory.

While very different in many aspects, both qualitative and quantitative approaches involve a systematic interaction between theory and data. Most textbooks on the methodology of social research are written from the quantitative perspective, [] and the very term "methodology" is often used synonymously with " statistics.

The work produced by quantitative researchers is also deemed more 'trustworthy' and 'unbiased' by the greater public, [] though this judgment continues to be challenged by antipositivists. The choice of method often depends largely on what the researcher intends to investigate. For example, a researcher concerned with drawing a statistical generalization across an entire population may administer a survey questionnaire to a representative sample population.

By contrast, a researcher who seeks full contextual understanding of an individual's social actions may choose ethnographic participant observation or open-ended interviews. Studies will commonly combine, or 'triangulate' , quantitative and qualitative methods as part of a 'multi-strategy' design. For instance, a quantitative study may be performed to gain statistical patterns or a target sample, and then combined with a qualitative interview to determine the play of agency.

Quantitative methods are often used to ask questions about a population that is very large, making a census or a complete enumeration of all the members in that population infeasible.

A 'sample' then forms a manageable subset of a population. In quantitative research, statistics are used to draw inferences from this sample regarding the population as a whole. The process of selecting a sample is referred to as 'sampling'. While it is usually best to sample randomly , concern with differences between specific subpopulations sometimes calls for stratified sampling. Conversely, the impossibility of random sampling sometimes necessitates nonprobability sampling , such as convenience sampling or snowball sampling.

Sociologists increasingly draw upon computationally intensive methods to analyse and model social phenomena. Although the subject matter and methodologies in social science differ from those in natural science or computer science , several of the approaches used in contemporary social simulation originated from fields such as physics and artificial intelligence. In relevant literature, computational sociology is often related to the study of social complexity.

Sociologists' approach to culture can be divided into a "sociology of culture" and "cultural sociology"—the terms are similar, though not entirely interchangeable. Conversely, cultural sociology sees all social phenomena as inherently cultural.

For Simmel , culture referred to "the cultivation of individuals through the agency of external forms which have been objectified in the course of history". Cultural sociology often involves the hermeneutic analysis of words, artefacts and symbols, or ethnographic interviews. However, some sociologists employ historical-comparative or quantitative techniques in the analysis of culture, Weber and Bourdieu for instance. The subfield is sometimes allied with critical theory in the vein of Theodor W.

Adorno , Walter Benjamin , and other members of the Frankfurt School. Loosely distinct from the sociology of culture is the field of cultural studies. Birmingham School theorists such as Richard Hoggart and Stuart Hall questioned the division between "producers" and "consumers" evident in earlier theory, emphasizing the reciprocity in the production of texts.

Cultural Studies aims to examine its subject matter in terms of cultural practices and their relation to power. For example, a study of a subculture such as white working class youth in London would consider the social practices of the group as they relate to the dominant class.

The " cultural turn " of the s ultimately placed culture much higher on the sociological agenda. Sociology of literature, film, and art is a subset of the sociology of culture.

This field studies the social production of artistic objects and its social implications. Genesis and Structure of the Literary Field None of the founding fathers of sociology produced a detailed study of art, but they did develop ideas that were subsequently applied to literature by others. Durkheim's view of sociology as the study of externally defined social facts was redirected towards literature by Robert Escarpit.

Bourdieu's own work is clearly indebted to Marx, Weber and Durkheim. Criminologists analyse the nature, causes, and control of criminal activity, drawing upon methods across sociology, psychology , and the behavioural sciences.

The sociology of deviance focuses on actions or behaviours that violate norms , including both formally enacted rules e. It is the remit of sociologists to study why these norms exist; how they change over time; and how they are enforced. The concept of social disorganization is when the broader social systems leads to violations of norms. For instance, Robert K. Merton produced a typology of deviance , which includes both individual and system level causal explanations of deviance.

The study of law played a significant role in the formation of classical sociology. Durkheim famously described law as the "visible symbol" of social solidarity. Sociology of law is a diverse field of study that examines the interaction of law with other aspects of society, such as the development of legal institutions and the effect of laws on social change and vice versa.

For example, an influential recent work in the field relies on statistical analyses to argue that the increase in incarceration in the US over the last 30 years is due to changes in law and policing and not to an increase in crime; and that this increase significantly contributes to maintaining racial stratification. The sociology of communications and information technologies includes "the social aspects of computing, the Internet, new media, computer networks, and other communication and information technologies".

The Internet is of interest to sociologists in various ways; most practically as a tool for research and as a discussion platform. Online communities may be studied statistically through network analysis or interpreted qualitatively through virtual ethnography.

Moreover, organizational change is catalysed through new media , thereby influencing social change at-large, perhaps forming the framework for a transformation from an industrial to an informational society.

As with cultural studies , media study is a distinct discipline that owes to the convergence of sociology and other social sciences and humanities, in particular, literary criticism and critical theory. Though the production process or the critique of aesthetic forms is not in the remit of sociologists, analyses of socializing factors, such as ideological effects and audience reception , stem from sociological theory and method. Thus the 'sociology of the media' is not a subdiscipline per se , but the media is a common and often-indispensable topic.

The term "economic sociology" was first used by William Stanley Jevons in , later to be coined in the works of Durkheim, Weber and Simmel between and The relationship between capitalism and modernity is a salient issue, perhaps best demonstrated in Weber's The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism and Simmel's The Philosophy of Money The contemporary period of economic sociology, also known as new economic sociology , was consolidated by the work of Mark Granovetter titled "Economic Action and Social Structure: The Problem of Embeddedness".

This work elaborated the concept of embeddedness , which states that economic relations between individuals or firms take place within existing social relations and are thus structured by these relations as well as the greater social structures of which those relations are a part.

Social network analysis has been the primary methodology for studying this phenomenon. Granovetter's theory of the strength of weak ties and Ronald Burt 's concept of structural holes are two best known theoretical contributions of this field. The sociology of work, or industrial sociology, examines "the direction and implications of trends in technological change, globalization , labour markets, work organization, managerial practices and employment relations to the extent to which these trends are intimately related to changing patterns of inequality in modern societies and to the changing experiences of individuals and families the ways in which workers challenge, resist and make their own contributions to the patterning of work and shaping of work institutions.

The sociology of education is the study of how educational institutions determine social structures, experiences, and other outcomes. It is particularly concerned with the schooling systems of modern industrial societies. The study also found that socially disadvantaged black students profited from schooling in racially mixed classrooms, and thus served as a catalyst for desegregation busing in American public schools. Environmental sociology is the study of human interactions with the natural environment, typically emphasizing human dimensions of environmental problems, social impacts of those problems, and efforts to resolve them.

As with other sub-fields of sociology, scholarship in environmental sociology may be at one or multiple levels of analysis, from global e.

Attention is paid also to the processes by which environmental problems become defined and known to humans. As argued by notable environmental sociologist John Bellamy Foster , the predecessor to modern environmental sociology is Marx's analysis of the metabolic rift , which influenced contemporary thought on sustainability. Environmental sociology is often interdisciplinary and overlaps with the sociology of risk , rural sociology and the sociology of disaster.

Human ecology deals with interdisciplinary study of the relationship between humans and their natural, social, and built environments.

In addition to Environmental sociology, this field overlaps with architectural sociology , urban sociology , and to some extent visual sociology. In turn, visual sociology—which is concerned with all visual dimensions of social life—overlaps with media studies in that it uses photography, film and other technologies of media. Social pre-wiring deals with the study of fetal social behavior and social interactions in a multi-fetal environment.

Specifically, social pre-wiring refers to the ontogeny of social interaction. Also informally referred to as, "wired to be social. Research in the theory concludes that newborns are born into the world with a unique genetic wiring to be social. Circumstantial evidence supporting the social pre-wiring hypothesis can be revealed when examining newborns' behavior. Newborns, not even hours after birth, have been found to display a preparedness for social interaction.

This preparedness is expressed in ways such as their imitation of facial gestures. This observed behavior cannot be contributed to any current form of socialization or social construction. Rather, newborns most likely inherit to some extent social behavior and identity through genetics. Principal evidence of this theory is uncovered by examining Twin pregnancies. The main argument is, if there are social behaviors that are inherited and developed before birth, then one should expect twin foetuses to engage in some form of social interaction before they are born.

Thus, ten foetuses were analyzed over a period of time using ultrasound techniques. Using kinematic analysis, the results of the experiment were that the twin foetuses would interact with each other for longer periods and more often as the pregnancies went on. Researchers were able to conclude that the performance of movements between the co-twins were not accidental but specifically aimed. The social pre-wiring hypothesis was proved correct, "The central advance of this study is the demonstration that ' social actions ' are already performed in the second trimester of gestation.

Starting from the 14th week of gestation twin foetuses plan and execute movements specifically aimed at the co-twin. These findings force us to predate the emergence of social behavior: Family, gender and sexuality form a broad area of inquiry studied in many sub-fields of sociology. A family is a group of people who are related by kinship ties: The family unit is one of the most important social institutions found in some form in nearly all known societies. It is the basic unit of social organization and plays a key role in socializing children into the culture of their society.

The sociology of the family examines the family, as an institution and unit of socialization , with special concern for the comparatively modern historical emergence of the nuclear family and its distinct gender roles. The notion of " childhood " is also significant. As one of the more basic institutions to which one may apply sociological perspectives, the sociology of the family is a common component on introductory academic curricula.

Feminist sociology , on the other hand, is a normative sub-field that observes and critiques the cultural categories of gender and sexuality, particularly with respect to power and inequality. The primary concern of feminist theory is the patriarchy and the systematic oppression of women apparent in many societies, both at the level of small-scale interaction and in terms of the broader social structure.

Feminist sociology also analyses how gender interlocks with race and class to produce and perpetuate social inequalities. For example, one recent study has shown that resume evaluators penalize women for motherhood while giving a boost to men for fatherhood. The sociology of health and illness focuses on the social effects of, and public attitudes toward, illnesses , diseases, mental health and disabilities. This sub-field also overlaps with gerontology and the study of the ageing process.

Medical sociology, by contrast, focuses on the inner-workings of medical organizations and clinical institutions. In Britain, sociology was introduced into the medical curriculum following the Goodenough Report The sociology of the body and embodiment [] takes a broad perspective on the idea of "the body" and includes "a wide range of embodied dynamics including human and non-human bodies, morphology, human reproduction, anatomy, body fluids, biotechnology, genetics.

This often intersects with health and illness, but also theories of bodies as political, social, cultural, economic and ideological productions. A subfield of the sociology of health and illness that overlaps with cultural sociology is the study of death, dying and bereavement, [] sometimes referred to broadly as the sociology of death. This topic is exemplifed by the work of Douglas Davies and Michael C. The sociology of knowledge is the study of the relationship between human thought and the social context within which it arises, and of the effects prevailing ideas have on societies.

The term first came into widespread use in the s, when a number of German-speaking theorists, most notably Max Scheler , and Karl Mannheim , wrote extensively on it. With the dominance of functionalism through the middle years of the 20th century, the sociology of knowledge tended to remain on the periphery of mainstream sociological thought.

It was largely reinvented and applied much more closely to everyday life in the s, particularly by Peter L. Berger and Thomas Luckmann in The Social Construction of Reality and is still central for methods dealing with qualitative understanding of human society compare socially constructed reality. The "archaeological" and "genealogical" studies of Michel Foucault are of considerable contemporary influence. The sociology of science involves the study of science as a social activity, especially dealing "with the social conditions and effects of science, and with the social structures and processes of scientific activity.

Merton and Bruno Latour. These branches of sociology have contributed to the formation of science and technology studies. Sociology of leisure is the study of how humans organize their free time. Leisure includes a broad array of activities, such as sport , tourism, and the playing of games. The sociology of leisure is closely tied to the sociology of work, as each explores a different side of the work—leisure relationship.

More recent studies in the field move away from the work—leisure relationship and focus on the relation between leisure and culture. This subfield of sociology studies, broadly, the dynamics of war, conflict resolution, peace movements, war refugees, conflict resolution and military institutions. It is a highly specialized sub-field which examines issues related to service personnel as a distinct group with coerced collective action based on shared interests linked to survival in vocation and combat , with purposes and values that are more defined and narrow than within civil society.

Military sociology also concerns civilian -military relations and interactions between other groups or governmental agencies. Topics include the dominant assumptions held by those in the military, changes in military members' willingness to fight, military unionization, military professionalism, the increased utilization of women, the military industrial-academic complex, the military's dependence on research, and the institutional and organizational structure of military.

Historically, political sociology concerned the relations between political organization and society. A typical research question in this area might be: A major subfield of political sociology developed in relation to such questions, which draws on comparative history to analyse socio-political trends. The field developed from the work of Max Weber and Moisey Ostrogorsky. Contemporary political sociology includes these areas of research, but it has been opened up to wider questions of power and politics.

Such questions are more likely to be studied qualitatively. The study of social movements and their effects has been especially important in relation to these wider definitions of politics and power.

Political sociology has also moved beyond methodological nationalism and analysed the role of non-governmental organizations, the diffusion of the nation-state throughout the Earth as a social construct , and the role of stateless entities in the modern world society.

Contemporary political sociologists also study inter-state interactions and human rights. Demographers or sociologists of population study the size, composition and change over time of a given population. Demographers study how these characteristics impact, or are impacted by, various social, economic or political systems. The study of population is also closely related to human ecology and environmental sociology, which studies a populations relationship with the surrounding environment and often overlaps with urban or rural sociology.

Researchers in this field may study the movement of populations: Demographers may also study spread of disease within a given population or epidemiology. Public sociology refers to an approach to the discipline which seeks to transcend the academy in order to engage with wider audiences. It is perhaps best understood as a style of sociology rather than a particular method, theory, or set of political values. This approach is primarily associated with Michael Burawoy who contrasted it with professional sociology, a form of academic sociology that is concerned primarily with addressing other professional sociologists.

Public sociology is also part of the broader field of science communication or science journalism. In a distinct but similar vein, [] applied sociology , also known as clinical sociology , policy sociology or sociological practice , applies knowledge derived from sociological research to solve societal problems.

The sociology of race and of ethnic relations is the area of the discipline that studies the social , political, and economic relations between races and ethnicities at all levels of society. This area encompasses the study of racism , residential segregation , and other complex social processes between different racial and ethnic groups. This research frequently interacts with other areas of sociology such as stratification and social psychology , as well as with postcolonial theory.

At the level of political policy, ethnic relations are discussed in terms of either assimilationism or multiculturalism. The sociology of religion concerns the practices, historical backgrounds, developments, universal themes and roles of religion in society.

The sociology of religion is distinguished from the philosophy of religion in that sociologists do not set out to assess the validity of religious truth-claims, instead assuming what Peter L. Berger has described as a position of "methodological atheism". Max Weber published four major texts on religion in a context of economic sociology and social stratification: Confucianism and Taoism , The Religion of India: Contemporary debates often centre on topics such as secularization , civil religion , the intersection of religion and economics and the role of religion in a context of globalization and multiculturalism.

The sociology of change and development attempts to understand how societies develop and how they can be changed. This includes studying many different aspects of society, for example demographic trends, [] political or technological trends, [] or changes in culture. Within this field, sociologists often use macrosociological methods or historical-comparative methods.

In contemporary studies of social change, there are overlaps with international development or community development. However, most of the founders of sociology had theories of social change based on their study of history. For instance, Marx contended that the material circumstances of society ultimately caused the ideal or cultural aspects of society, while Weber argued that it was in fact the cultural mores of Protestantism that ushered in a transformation of material circumstances. In contrast to both, Durkheim argued that societies moved from simple to complex through a process of sociocultural evolution.

Sociologists in this field also study processes of globalization and imperialism. Most notably, Immanuel Wallerstein extends Marx's theoretical frame to include large spans of time and the entire globe in what is known as world systems theory.

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An introduction to research methods in Sociology covering quantitative, qualitative, primary and secondary data and defining the basic types of research method including social surveys, experiments, interviews, participant observation, ethnography and longitudinal studies.

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Six of the most popular sociological research methods (procedures) are the case study, survey, observational, correlational, experimental, and cross‐cultural methods, as well as working with information already available.

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Types of Sociology Not all universities approach sociology the same way, and the new science evolved differently depending on where it was taught and who was teaching it. The two major types of sociology that emerged were qualitative sociology and quantitative sociology. The realm of sociology currently outlines four different types of research methods when conducting research for hypothesis or theories. According to Macionis (), these four research methods of sociological investigation are experiments, surveys, participant observations, and the use of existing sources (p).

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Sociologists examine the world, see a problem or interesting pattern, and set out to study it. They use research methods to design a study—perhaps a detailed, systematic, scientific method for conducting research and obtaining data, or perhaps an ethnographic study utilizing an interpretive framework. Sociology Research is a subcategory of Social Sciences Research. Read the description and explore the various fields of sociological research. Study the examples to see what others have done.