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Examine the factors that influence a sociologist on their choice of research methods

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Introduction

Examine the factors that influence a sociologist on their choice of research methods. The main factors that influence a sociologist's choice of research method depend on two different theoretical approaches to the study of society; positivism and interpretivism. Positivism is an approach in sociology that believes society can be studied using similar scientific techniques to those used in the natural sciences, such as physics, biology and chemistry. Interpretivism is an approach emphasizing that people have consciousness involving personal beliefs, values and interpretations that influence the way they act and that they do not simply respond to forces outside them. These two theoretical approaches often use different research methods because they have different assumptions about the nature of society, this influences the type of data they are interested in collecting. Practicality, ethics, theory and subject of study also contribute to the methods used for research. ...read more.

Middle

Instead of collecting statistical information, Interpretivists suggest there is a need to discuss and get personally involved with people in order to get at how they see and understand the world. To do this, sociologists will use qualitative data such as in-depth/ unstructured interviews, participant and non-participant observations, open-ended questions and personal accounts such as diaries and letters. These are more likely to involve small-scale research on a small number of people. Qualitative data is used in research involving detailed, verbal descriptions with an insight to the person's attitudes, values and feelings of individuals, groups and the meanings and interpretations given to events. Other than theoretical issues that influence the choice of research methods used it can also depend on a number of non-theoretical factors. The different research methods vary according to cost and time, the funding given and the time scale will influence what method will be used. ...read more.

Conclusion

If the research topic is of current interest, importance or if the findings may be profitable for financial backers will definitely affect the method used in respect of quality present. A method of research that provides a higher level of quality will be used for research that may be useful to a large number of people like the government, private companies and other researchers. Practicality, ethics, theory and subject of study all contribute to the methods used for research as well as the beliefs of the two main theoretical approaches. Either approach would clearly depend on the type of research that has been conducted. The factors that influence these choices of research methods used would be the market that is been researched in the first place, be it the one that would be reflected more accurately in quantitative values such as numbers of people visiting a certain country within a given time scale. By contrast surveys to assess people's opinions on which party should lead in the next election would be more likely based on the qualitative theory. By Jess Howell ...read more.

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