Research Methods in Social Sciences

Topics: Sociology, Social sciences, Psychology Pages: 2 (367 words) Published: July 25, 2012
Bridget Somekh
Education and Social Research Institute, Manchester Metropolitan University, UK Erica Burman
Research Institute of Health and Social Change, Manchester Metropolitan University, UK Sara Delamont
Department of Sociology, Cardiff University, UK
Julienne Meyer
St Bartholomew’s School of Nursing and Midwifery, City University, UK Malcolm Payne
St Christopher’s Hospice, London, UK
Richard Thorpe
Leeds University Business School, UK
The authors would like to thank Fazal Rizvi, Professor in
Educational Policy Studies at the University of Illinois, USA, and an Adjunct Professor at Deakin University, Australia,
for providing additional material to strengthen the international perspectives in this chapter.
Key features of research in the social
Bridget Somekh
Research in the social sciences draws on various
long-established traditions. Its origins might, for
example, be said to lie with the Greek philosophers,
Plato and Aristotle, who developed ways of conceptualizing
and categorizing knowledge, truth and human
experience during the fourth century BC.
Fundamentally, social science research is concerned
with people and their life contexts, and with philosophical
questions relating to the nature of knowledge
and truth (epistemology), values (axiology) and being
(ontology) which underpin human judgements and
Empirical social science research – that is research
which involves the collection of data about people
and their social contexts by a range of methods –
draws heavily upon the traditions and practices of
disciplines such as anthropology, sociology, psychology,
history and creative arts. Anthropology contributes
a tradition of participant observation and
interviews, field note-taking and heuristic interpretation
of culture. For example, from Geertz we learn
the importance of reading the cultural meanings in
details of behaviour such as winks, and...
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