• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Outline some of the main differences between quantitative and qualitative Research methods. (1000 words)

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

EMMA SMITH SOCIOLOGY - SOCS 101 - SEMESTER A SEMINAR GROUP C- Thursday 2-3pm 2A) Outline some of the main differences between quantitative and qualitative Research methods. (1000 words) The discipline of sociology dates back to the end of the 18th century, and for many, it seems a difficult term to accurately define. It covers a wide range of topics such as poverty and gender to race and relationships, and its focus is on understanding the modernised, and industrialised world, which has developed throughout this time. Sociology enables us to take a step back and look at things which are familiar to us in a new way. Methodology and theories give us the ability to see things from a new perspective. The term 'methodology' defines the theory and analysis of how research should proceed. Any good research should have a basis in science, and the factor that distinguishes sociological arguments from common sense is systematic knowledge, which is developed through rigorous research processes. In doing research, people are trying to produce knowledge that is accurate; a description of some aspect of the world that is as close as possible to how it actually is. They also try to make sure that this knowledge is objective and value-free, meaning that the information must be gathered in a way that limits the chances of the researcher influencing or distorting the information. 'The ultimate goals of research are to formulate questions and to find answers to these questions. ...read more.

Middle

Qualitative research focuses on experiences and meanings and because of the importance that is placed on interpreting behaviour, it is linked with Interpretativism. This type of approach is associated with Max Weber, and just as Durkheims methodology is underpinned in his research, the same can be said for Weber. Weber's general approach was 'Verstehen', and this means the empathetic understanding of the subject. Linked with the Interpretativist approach, is the use of the 'ideal type', and Weber spoke of this method in his book 'The Methodology of Social Science' (cited in Marsh, 2000). The ideal type method is designed to increase objectivity. The idea of this method is for the researcher to construct a model of the area of study, picking out what they consider to be the most salient features. Then, once the research has been carried out the ideal type model can be brought back out and be used as a comparative method to analyse preconceptions on the subject against the truth. Another key difference between quantitative and qualitative methods is the scale of the chosen subject. The techniques used in qualitative methods usually involve studying large numbers, whereas with qualitative research the focus is on smaller scale research. And with this, there is less emphasis on making generalizations about society, with more time being spent understanding the actions and motivations of selected groups. Ultimately, whilst both qualitative and quantitative research methods are used in the study of sociology to produce information on various aspects of society, the forms that this information may take can be very different. ...read more.

Conclusion

Although not all feminists are against quantitative research, many believe that qualitative methods are more sensitive towards females; so on the whole feminists could be classed as a group who often do not use both methods complimentarily. The one negative point that is cited as regards the use of both techniques is that whilst it may provide more conclusive information, a lot more work is involved. Corner and Wilson-Barnett reported in 1992 on the use of triangulation in a longitudinal study. This was based on the educational experiences of newly qualified nurses, and they decided to use triangulation to resolve an argument with their funding body - as they required a quantitative design whilst the nurses themselves wished to include a qualitative assessment, so that they could identify their educational needs. The authors concluded that ' triangulation contributes to a more detailed understanding of the nurses needs but it was at the expense of a considerably increased workload for the researcher'. (Corner and Wilson-Barnett: 1992 cited in McKenzie, Powell, and Usher: 1997) So it can be reflected on as to whether this may be a criticism or drawback of using triangulation for research methods. Fundamentally, it seems using qualitative and quantitative methods complimentarily, rather than exclusively can provide researchers with many advantages. Whilst it may mean more work for those involved, it has been used in many studies. It is believed that using multiple methods in the investigation of a phenomenon provides researchers with the most complete picture, and research seems to be ultimately pluralistic in that it may be necessary to gather information by whatever means possible to give a deeper insight into the subject. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our University Degree Social Theory section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Here's what a teacher thought of this essay

3 star(s)

Again, a low grade 3/high grade 2 essay. There is no consideration really of the second part of the question - why they might be considered 'mutually exclusive'. This would require a bit of consideration of competing epistemologies, which are only mentioned as a throwaway comment.

Marked by teacher Grace Thomas 24/04/2012

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related University Degree Social Theory essays

  1. The effects of social class on participation in sport

    and status (social capital), often acquired at birth. The upper classes have these resources in abundance. According to Barker (2002) it 'acts as a social relation within a system of exchange that includes the accumulated cultural knowledge that confers power and status'. This concept is heavily exploited by the upper class as they often use their sporting and

  2. The traditional semantic theory known as descriptivism holds that "sense" determines "reference".

    In that situation II) is informative while I) is not. Frege further supports his theory with Propositional Attitude Attributions which basically build on the same notion as above. Since it is possible that a person attributes one attitude to one of the co-referents and a different attitude toward the other one, even though they

  1. Outline and critically review the principal arguments in The Kuhnian View by Haines-Young and ...

    To help people understand the paradigm switch Kuhn uses a 'Gestalt Diagram'. A gestalt diagram is a visual illusion in which an object is at one time seen as one thing, and at another time seen as something else. The two interpretations can not be seen at the same time but having seen both the observer can switch between them.

  2. TO WHAT EXTENT IS THE FUNCTIONALISTS PERSPECTIVE ON SOCIAL STRATIFICATION USEFUL TO THE STUDY ...

    At first in slavery it was just the whites at the top and black slaves at the bottom. But in the time of indentureship when the East Indians came there has been a struggle for who is better, the blacks or the East Indians.

  1. Discuss Marx's Theory of Value by Focusing on Abstract and Concrete Labour.

    Ricardo agrees with Smith that value is determined by two factors; 'value in use' and 'value in exchange', but he rejects the importance of 'value in exchange' and instead concentrates on 'value in use'. This is because according to Ricardo nominal wageis in fact, the price of real wage.

  2. Discuss the scientific nature of sociology.

    It employs such concepts as social organization, culture, roles, values, symbols, and ritual. Modern sociology uses several methods, including controlled experimentation, participant observation, and statistical analysis, this is sociology in its scientific nature. It covers a variety of traditions and theoretical views, including functionalism (a view of society as a

  1. Counselling theory. In this essay I shall analyse the philosophy of the humanistic person ...

    * Rollo May: an American existential psychologist. * Abraham Maslow: an American professor of psychology. * Kurt Goldstein: Were a German Jewish neurologist and psychiatrist who was a pioneer in modern neuropsychology. The person centred model of counselling has its origins within Humanistic psychology and the phenomenological approach (Carl Rogers 1902-1987)

  2. Body Image Issues through the Sociological Imagination. In this paper I will be exploring ...

    so much impact on the society through the billboard, television and magazine advertisements. The main purpose of this is for health companies to sell their products to help people achieve what they think is beauty. With the media being used more than ever before, especially now with Internet, media corporations

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work