Assess the relative importance of the different factors that affect sociologists' choice of research methods and of topics to investigate

923 WordsOct 12, 20134 Pages
There are different factors that influence sociologist's choice of research. Sociologists have to firstly decide what particular area or topic they want to study, in order for them to carry out their research. When sociologists choose a topic, there are two types of sources available to the sociologists, they are Primary and Secondary. Primary is the data collected by the researchers themselves, usually in the form of questionnaires or interviews. Secondary is the data that is already available e.g. official statistics, diaries, historical documents etc. The researcher then has to decide what type of method they will use for their research. The topic chosen for research will indicate the method to be used e.g. voting would involve the…show more content…
The job of sociologists is to uncover the social laws that govern human behaviour. When they collect information about the social world, they usually subscribe to a scientific model known as the hypothetico-deductive approach. This is the model that natural science employs in, for example, laboratory experiments. Stage 1 - Phenomena are observed. Stage 2 - A testable hypothesis (an educated guess) is constructed to explain the phenomena. Stage 3 - Empirical data (factual information) is collected in a systematic way. Stage 4 - The data is interpreted and analysed to see whether it confirms or refutes the hypothesis. Stage 5 - If the hypothesis is confirmed time and time again, it becomes a theory. If the data refutes the hypothesis, the scientist should reject or revise it, and begin the data-collection process again. The major scientific method in the natural sciences used for collecting data is the laboratory experiment. In Sociology, the major scientific method used by positivists is the social or sample survey, which incorporates the use of the questionnaire and/or structured interview. Positivists also advocate the use of some types of secondary data, particularly official statistics. However, Interpretivist (anti-positivist) sociologists are sceptical about sociology’s scientific status. They argue that human behaviour is not the result of

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