Researching and Sociology

As we have talked about and our readings have touched on, there are many ways to research. Researching and sociology is not much different than researching for other fields, they all start with a question that leads us to a hypothesis and hopefully a conclusion. Although this is true, studying and collecting data for sociology is a little different still. I think the Open Stax book online puts it in the best terms. “Sociological topics are not reduced to right or wrong facts. In this field, results of studies tend to provide people with access to knowledge they did not have before—knowledge of other cultures, knowledge of rituals and beliefs, or knowledge of trends and attitudes” (Open Stax). As we discussed there are 5 basic fields of study when it comes to sociology; experimenting (not much use in sociology), surveys/questionnaires, ethnography/observation, interviews, archival/secondary analysis, and field research. Under these types of study there are subcategories you could split some of them into, like phone, internet, personal, or mail surveys, or participant and nonparticipant ethnography. We also talked about some of the risks or concerns involving different types of research. Some of the issues we ran into were with surveys, secondary analysis, and possibly with interviews. These issues were mostly that surveys could be skewered or bias or even the way you word them could have an effect on how the respondent answers. With secondary analysis we found that the questions may not match your thesis or directions of study thus changing your research and that some of the data could be missing even. Interviewers run the chance of changing peoples responses or stories or their comfort just by simple things such as outfit choice, gender, age, or even presence. other concerns for studies was the ethical, or moral values. In ethnography is it right to sit down and people watch and take notes on people without their knowledge? But if you told them that you were going to be observing them it could change their behavior and thus changing the outcome of your study. For instance I had an assignment where I was suppose to sit down for an hour and “people watch” and I found things that I observed, that I wouldn’t normally notice, were very interesting but in this case I was a nonparticipant. Being a nonparticipant I had absolutely no contact with anyone so none of the people I was observing knew I would be taking notes on them. Although I do not know nor did I use any personal information or descriptions should I have told these people I was collecting data on their interactions and possibly ruined my study or did I do the right thing by not telling them and not using personal information? There are many opinions on this and we may never reach a conclusion because both sides of this are very important in one way or another.

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