Are you a student of sociology who is about to start working on his dissertation? Yes? It is good to know that you are finally approaching the end of your degree and being a sociologist. It is facile to say by the tongue that you are becoming a sociologist. Do you know what perspectives, methods, and theories are in practice in sociological research? Probably not. So, how can you complete your dissertation without knowing this? Yes, it is almost impossible.
Keeping your current knowledge in mind, today’s article is all about discussing the perspectives, research methods, and theories that you can use in sociological research. However, before that, let’s briefly explain what this research is. So, let’s start today’s discussion with the following question.
What does it mean by sociological research?
Sociology is a very broad field, and it has so many branches. Due to this, it is very difficult to define it generally. However, a more comprehensive and general definition of this research is The systematic study of people, social phenomena, social issues, or institutions using some measurement techniques. The measurement techniques can be surveys, focus groups, observations, ethnography etc.
What are the different perspectives in sociology research?
Sociologists analyse different social phenomena at different levels from various perspectives. From making generalisations about society to developing concrete interpretations, sociologists study society deeply from every perspective. These days sociologists employ three different perspectives to study a phenomenon. A brief description of each perspective is as follows:
1. Symbolic interactionist perspective
The first perspective that today’s sociologists use in sociological research is the symbolic interactionist perspective or symbolic interactionism. It is a micro-level perspective in which the researcher studies each minor detail of society. He studies how people interact with each other in their routine life. This sociological perspective matches greatly with the theory of Max Weber. The theory state that individuals act accordign to their interpretation of the world.
2. The functionalist perspective
It is the second perspective used mostly in sociological research. According to this perspective, each aspect of society is interdependent. Each aspect of society contributes to society’s functioning as a whole. For example, the govt builds educational institutions where students get free education. In turn, the students give taxes, and govt again spends those taxes on its people. It is how society works, and the perspective of functionalism is all about this.
3. The conflict perspective
Lastly, the conflict perspective is the third perspective being used in today’s sociology research. This perspective is primarily originated from Karl Marx’s writing on class struggles in society. The two above-mentioned perspectives explain the positive side of society. However, this conflict perspective tends to shed light on the negative side. It explains how society changes with time through conflicts.
What are various research methods used in sociology research?
Sociological research is the study of social life, dynamics, and social causes. To measure all these things, properly planned research needs to be conducted. The knowledge of various research methods that you can employ is also necessary. Hence, a brief description of the various research methods in the form of bullet points is as follows:
- Social Surveys. It is the most commonly used research method in sociology. This research method involves the use of a structured questionnaire. The questions in that questionnaire are designed to gather information about the society. The research participants in such a method are normally a part of that society.
- Interviews. The second most important technique is the interview technique. In this research method, the researcher develops a set of questions and asks those questions to research participants in a face-to-face fashion. The interview can be structured, unstructured, or semi-structured.
- Ethnography and observation. Ethnography and observation are more or less similar research methods in sociological research. Observation is about observing the sample in his natural habitat or in an environment other than that. However, ethnography is purely related to observing the sample in his natural habitat.
- Experiments. Experimentation is another technique used in sociology. By using this research method, the researcher tries to understand the cause-and-effect relationship between variables in a controlled environment. It is not a very popular technique in sociology; however, used by most researchers.
Hence, these are some of the research methods that you can use to conduct sociology research. You may face problems in developing questions for your survey. For this, consider your audience and some other tips from your fellow researchers. However, taking a masters dissertation help can also be beneficial.
Various theories that you can use in sociology research
After learning different perspectives and research methods mostly used in sociological research, let’s now move forward to the common theories. Although the three main theoretical perspectives have been described above, a brief description of the other two is as follows:
1. Social action theory
Social action theory is a critical theory in sociology. This theory states that society is a blend of interactions and meanings interpreted by its members. This theory explains human behaviour in society at a very smaller scale. For example, you wash your car daily after coming back from the office. This act of yours is a social action because it is done consciously. This theory was developed by a great sociologist of all time Max Weber.
Marxism is a political and social theory developed by great sociologist Karl Marx. This theory encompasses Marx’s conflict theory and theory of economics. It combines both these theories and explains the relationship between society and the economy. The class struggle and revolution are also the products of Marxism theory. This theory mainly criticises capitalism and shows its relationship with society.
Conclusively, writing a sociology dissertation and conducting sociological research is not an easy thing to do. It requires you to have a knowledge of different theoretical perspectives and research methods commonly practised in sociology. The main theories are mentioned above. Moreover, a brief description of research methods is also given above. So, read the full article and know how to conduct sociology research effectively.