3. Research Methods & Analysis

Sociology Notes

(a) Qualitative and quantitative methods. (b) Techniques of data collection. (c ) Variables, sampling, hypothesis, reliability and validity.



Qualitative research focuses on getting a subjective understanding. Generally used for non-positivist sociological studies. It has high validity and low reliabillity.
Quantitative research focuses on getting an objective understanding. Generally used for positivist sociological studies. It has low validity and high reliability.
Techniques of Data collection: surveys, field studies, interviews, census data, content analysis, focus groups, participant observation, etc.

Independent variables are those factors, activities and other phenomena that change or affect the value or level of a dependent variable. A dependent variable in sociology and other social sciences is the effect, the phenomenon affected or changed by other actions or phenomena. Examples of dependent variables in sociology include levels of crime or poverty in neighborhoods, racist attitudes or order within a civil society.


A sample is a subset of the population being studied. It represents the larger population and is used to draw inferences about that population. Ex. an NSSO survey is based on studies conducted on representative samples of Indian society. Microcosm.

Hypothesis is a potentially falsifiable problem statement which sets the agenda for the research being undertaken.

Reliability of a study denotes the chances that it will produce similar results on repetition. Quantitative studies are based on data from a large number of people and are usually high in validity as the data being used is the same.
Validity of a study denotes the chances that the content of the study is true in the field or not.  Validity is the degree to which a measurement instrument, such as a survey question, measures what we think it measures.

Always give methodology with theory and theory with methodology. Quantitative methods - functional theories based on empirical data. Dependency theories.

Qualitative methods - Symbolic Interactionis theories. Ethno-methodological theories.


Problems with participant observation:

Restrictions placed on Andre Beteile from going into the Cherry areas of untouchables during his study of Sripura village. Similarly, Leela Dubey had restrictions placed on her because of her status as a woman.

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