Essay on Research Methods

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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. 

There are various methods sociologists use to carry out a research on society. The two common forms are quantitative and qualitative research methods. I will begin by analysing the meanings behind the words, qualitative and quantitative. Quantitative methods are used by people that support the use of scientific investigation, it usually includes numerical statistical methods; the purpose is to expand and utilize mathematical techniques, conjecture and hypothesis. In contrast to this the qualitative research method. This is usually used by sociologists that support the use of humanistic research. It differs from quantitative methods in the sense that, qualitative research methods depend on specific reasons behind the way some people in society behave. Using the qualitative method however, they are prone to ask questions like, ‘why?’ or ‘how?’ compared to the quantitative data which would more likely ask straight forward questions like, ‘what?’ or ‘where’. In qualitative methods the research usually focuses on small samples instead, unlike quantitative research on the other hand,...
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