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Quantitative vs. Qualitative Research

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Research in the Social Sciences

Faire de la sociologie: Currently available only in French, this book covers the history of qualitative field methods in French sociology, especially the diffusion of ideas from the United States.

The origins of American social science. A comprehensive study of the history of sociology in America, this book argues that the legitimacy of qualitative research has been tied to the preeminence of various universities, departments, and faculties. A sociology for people. Argues persuasively that ethnographers have a responsibility to impart in their research subjects an understanding of the powerful external forces shaping their everyday life worlds.

Very much in the spirit of what C. Wright Mills referred to as the sociological imagination: The politics of method in the human sciences: Positivism and its epistemological others. Politics, History and Culture. Collection of essays examining how positivism i. Qualitative researchers often have to deal with the critique that their methods do not meet the standards of positivism.

Human science for an action sensitive pedagogy. A short but powerful book offering an accessible introduction to hermeneutic and phenomenological methods. It focuses on the applied aspects of qualitative methods for simultaneously teaching and learning from our subjects. Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content on this page. Please subscribe or login. Oxford Bibliographies Online is available by subscription and perpetual access to institutions.

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Introduction Qualitative research methods have a long and distinguished history within sociology. The first type of research that social scientists use is quantitative research , which is based on numerical data, which can be analyzed using statistics.

This type of research focuses on pinpointing what, where, when, how often and how long social phenomena occur. For example, imagine you wanted to research jaywalking at a certain intersection. If you were to conduct quantitative research, you could count the number of people who jaywalk. Quantitative research includes experiments in which certain variables are manipulated and the outcomes measured.

It also includes studies conducted in the natural world - the U. Census is a good example. Numerical data can be collected through machines, surveys, inventories and more. Again, the numbers can be analyzed using statistics. The analysis can tell us the relationship between certain variables. This leads us into a discussion about the advantages of quantitative research. One advantage is the fact that we can use statistics to extrapolate the data collected in order to predict how people will behave in the future.

For instance, let's say you not only counted the number of people who jaywalked, but also collected other information, such as age and gender. If you recorded 20 people jaywalking, and 15 of them were men, you might predict that a man would be much more likely to jaywalk than a woman. There are certainly other advantages to quantitative studies. Many researchers prefer quantitative methods because they provide objective, hard facts. Variables are easy to identify and results can be generalized to larger populations.

However, there are also disadvantages to quantitative methods. For instance, they can't explain why social phenomena occur - they just quantify the fact that they do. They don't take into account the emotions, motives, imagination, beliefs, etc.

Of course, there's also the fact that not all social phenomena can be counted or measured in quantifiable ways. For instance, how would you describe a funeral ceremony using numbers?

In situations like this, social scientists use qualitative research , which is based on data that cannot be measured or counted, but can be collected and interpreted through observation.

This type of research focuses on why and how social phenomena occur. Instead of numbers that can be analyzed using statistics, the data is in the form of descriptive words that can be examined for patterns or meaning. For example, imagine you wanted to study the behavior of monkeys that live in the zoo.

Using qualitative research, you might watch the monkeys every day and write your observations in a journal. When the study was over, you would go back through the journal to try and find patterns of behavior, such as daily habits. Get access risk-free for 30 days, just create an account. Qualitative research is also called descriptive research because its purpose is to describe social occurrences. It can be conducted in focus groups, interviews or simple observation of social events as they happen in real life.

The data is collected by the researcher himself or herself instead of through the inventories, questionnaires and other means used for quantitative research. This can be both a good thing and a bad thing. The researcher can gain an empathetic understanding of the behavior of others, but the data collection is bound to be subjective and can even include bias.

Due to the personal involvement of the researcher, it's practically impossible to stay impartial. However, qualitative research can provide a wealth of in-depth information and even explain findings from a quantitative study. For example, conducting qualitative research on jaywalking could explain why certain people jaywalk while others do not instead of simply pointing out the fact that they do.

In summary, research in the social sciences occurs in many different forms and can be divided into two basic types: Quantitative research is based on numerical data, which can be analyzed using statistics. In contrast, qualitative research , also called descriptive research, is based on data that cannot be measured or counted, but can be collected and interpreted through observation. There are advantages and disadvantages for each type of research.

Quantitative research can use statistics to extrapolate data and predict how people will behave in the future. However, they can't explain why social phenomena occur - they just quantify the fact that they do. Qualitative research does do this and often incites empathetic understanding. It can provide a wealth of in-depth information and even explain findings from a quantitative study. However, it's common for qualitative research to include bias. To unlock this lesson you must be a Study.

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By creating an account, you agree to Study. Explore over 4, video courses. Find a degree that fits your goals. Qualitative Research In this lesson, we identify the differences between quantitative and qualitative research methods in the social sciences. We also discuss the advantages and disadvantages of each approach. Qualitative Research Quiz Course. Try it risk-free for 30 days.

An error occurred trying to load this video. Try refreshing the page, or contact customer support. You must create an account to continue watching. Register to view this lesson Are you a student or a teacher? I am a student I am a teacher. What teachers are saying about Study. How to Interpret Correlations in Research Results. Are you still watching? Your next lesson will play in 10 seconds. Add to Add to Add to. Want to watch this again later? An Overview of Qualitative Research.

What is Quantitative Research in Sociology? Ethical Concerns in Sociological Research. Research Ethics in Educational Psychology. Selecting a Problem to Research. What is Sociological Research? Strategies for Choosing a Data Collection Technique. The True Experimental Research Design.

What is Qualitative Research? Diversity and Intercultural Communication. Test Practice and Study Guide. In this lesson, we identify the differences between quantitative and qualitative research methods in the social sciences. Research in the Social Sciences Research is an extremely important part of sociology, psychology and all of the other social sciences.

Quantitative Research The first type of research that social scientists use is quantitative research , which is based on numerical data, which can be analyzed using statistics. Quantitative research produces statistics that can be used to predict behaviors.

Qualitative Research Of course, there's also the fact that not all social phenomena can be counted or measured in quantifiable ways. Qualitative research is performed by observation and descriptive note taking. Try it risk-free No obligation, cancel anytime. Want to learn more?


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Qualitative research has a long history in sociology and has been used within it for as long as the field itself has existed. This type of research has long appealed to social scientists because it allows the research to investigate the meanings that people attribute to their behavior, actions, and interactions with others.

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INTRODUCING QUALITATIVE METHODS provides a series of volumes which introduce qualitative research to the student and beginning researcher. The approach is interdisciplinary and.

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Qualitative research methods have a long and distinguished history within sociology. They trace their roots back to Max Weber’s call for an interpretive understanding of action. Today, qualitative sociology encompasses a variety of specific procedures for collecting data, ranging from life history. Qualitative research is also called descriptive research because its purpose is to describe social occurrences. It can be conducted in focus groups, interviews or simple observation of social events as they happen in real life.

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Qualitative Research in Sociology offers a hands-on guide to doing qualitative research in sociology. It provides an introductory survey of the methodological and theoretical dimensions of qualitative research as practiced by those interested in the study of social life. Qualitative Research in Sociology offers a hands-on guide to doing qualitative research in sociology. It provides an introductory survey of the methodological and theoretical dimensions of qualitative research as practiced by those interested in the study of social life.5/5(1).