Assess the position that in sociological research quantitative research methods are superior to qualitative research methods. Sociologists have a number of different types of research that can be used to acquire data. They can be traced back to Max Weber (1864) regarded as the founder of interpretivism, was opposed to the idea that human behavior is exactly quantifiable. Human behavior is based on the idea that social interaction is surrounded by consciousness action and unpredictability (emotions and feelings). For intrepertivists the social world consists of and is constructed through meanings; for example attending school on a daily basis helps to recreate the structure of education. On the other hand Auguste Comte (1798) is largely regarded as the founding father of positivism; who studied social behavior in ways similar to those used by natural scientists to study behavior in the natural world. Social systems consist of structures that exist independently of individuals.
They represent behavior at the intuitional level of society and people experience structures as forces that push persons to behave in ways that shape individual behavior choices. For example the rules of language, structure the way persons socially interact. In social sciences there are two types of research methods’ quantitative and qualitative. They are very popular in the fields of sociology because the need to study society and the people living in and institutions within societies encourage growth and change in both micro and macro systems. The word “quantitative” express data that is subject to measurements and numbers; it’s basically employ data that is objective generalized and statistical. Durkheim (1895) believes that the analysis of statistical data can indicate both cause and correlation. For example the difference between neighboring states in terms of attitude towards state government, would mostly utilize a quantitative research design which would offer comparison and statistics to demonstrate the differences between both states. The general idea of quantitative research is to get information that can be inferred to large populations of people, in this instance it is general favored because they allow for the collection of factual data.
On the other hand qualitative research would not serve this type of inquiry well (the example above regarding attitude towards state government). In order to conduct qualitative research with large populations of people is difficult. The idea of qualitative research is to interview or observe a small group of people to be able to determine what that specific group is experiencing. Therefore the information gathered would not be able to generalize to a large population such as across two states because the sample size would be to small and intimate. However for intrepretivists, “facts’ about behavior can be established, but these facts are always context-bound; they will not apply to all people at all times, in all situations. They may not even apply to different people in the same situation.
Therefore persons should not directly interact with the people they are studying since this might influence their behavior (non-participant observation is acceptable, but participant observation is more problematic). Quantitative research methods are acceptable because they tend to offer higher potential levels of reliability than qualitative research methods, not necessarily superior. On the other hand qualitative research methods have to reflect the fact people consciously and unconsciously construct their own sense of social reality. Conversely; quantitative research methods indicates no personal, state of a person emotions and feelings; unrepresentative samples can sometimes be drown, thus leading to inaccurate and invalid information. Although not compulsory, it is extremely beneficial to use qualitative and quantitative research methods during a research to produce efficient outcomes.
Qualitative and quantitative research methods will obtain results that are through, logical, and realistic is several ways. There is no particular rule for which research methods to use in sociology. Like sociologists, try to utilize methods that is ideal for research by obtaining effective results. In sociology, different theories will tend to prefer different data collection methods. For example Barker (1984) research of the unification church, or moonies lead Barker to understand the group because of the use of statistical (quantitative) data and in-depth explanation (qualitative).
In some instances, a qualitative research method proves to be more appropriate than a quantitative upon the nature of the subject under investigation. For example if the researcher wants to understand a rape victims’ point of view, an unstructed questionnaire would yield more valid results than say a social survey. However feminist theory often makes use of qualitative research methods to better describe intimate and personal accounts of marginalized women in societies. Remember that both quantitative and qualitative analysis have proved useful and within respective fields and individual studies.
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