Explain the three main sociological perspectives. Use any one perspective to analyze a real world social problem such as homelessness, teenage

Explain the three main sociological perspectives. Use any one perspective to analyze a real world social problem such as homelessness, teenage

pregnancy, high school student dropout rates, crime, drugs, terrorism or divorce.

reference: Chapter 2: Sociological Research in your textbook (pp. 29-43)

Chapter 2:
•2.1 List the empirical methods of sociological research.
•2.2 Describe the steps in the research process.
•2.3 Distinguish between quantitative and qualitative research methods.
•2.4 Evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of various research techniques, including questionnaires, interviews, observations/participant

observations and secondary analysis.


Learning Objectives
2.1. Approaches to Sociological Research
• Define and describe the scientific method
• Explain how the scientific method is used in sociological research
• Understand the function and importance of an interpretive framework
• Define what reliability and validity mean in a research study
2.2. Research Methods
• Differentiate between four kinds of research methods: surveys, field research, experiments, and secondary
data analysis
• Understand why different topics are better suited to different research approaches
2.3. Ethical Concerns
• Understand why ethical standards exist
• Demonstrate awareness of the American Sociological Association’s Code of Ethics
• Define value neutrality
Introduction to Sociological Research
Have you ever wondered if home schooling affects a person’s later success in college or how many people wait until they are in their forties to get

married? Do you wonder if texting is changing teenagers’ abilities to spell correctly or to communicate clearly? How do social movements like Occupy

Wall Street develop? How about the development of social phenomena like the massive public followings for Star Trek and Harry Potter? The goal of

research is to answer questions.
Sociological research attempts to answer a vast variety of questions, such as these and more, about our social world. We often have opinions about

social situations, but these may be biased by our expectations or based on limited data. Instead, scientific research is based on empirical evidence,

which is evidence that comes from direct experience, scientifically gathered data, or experimentation. Many people believe, for example, that crime

rates go up when there’s a full moon, but research doesn’t support this opinion. Researchers Rotton and Kelly (1985) conducted a meta-analysis of

research on the full moon’s effects on behavior. Meta-analysis is a technique in which the results of virtually all previous studies on a specific

subject are evaluated together. Rotton and Kelly’s meta-analysis included thirty-seven prior studies on the effects of the full moon on crime rates, and

the overall findings were that full moons are entirely unrelated to crime, suicide, psychiatric problems, and crisis center calls (cited in Arkowitz and

Lilienfeld 2009). We may each know of an instance in which a crime happened during a full moon, but it was likely just a coincidence. People commonly

try to understand the happenings in their world by finding or creating an explanation for an occurrence. Social scientists may develop a hypothesis for

the same reason. A hypothesis is a testable educated guess about predicted
outcomes between two or more variables; it’s a possible explanation for specific happenings in the social world and allows for testing to determine

whether the explanation holds true in many instances, as well as among various groups or in different places. Sociologists use empirical data and the

scientific method, or an interpretative framework, to increase understanding of societies and social interactions, but research begins with the search

for an answer to a question.
2.1 Approaches to Sociological Research
When sociologists apply the sociological perspective and begin to ask questions, no topic is off limits. Every aspect of human behavior is a source of

possible investigation. Sociologists question the world that humans have created and live in. They notice patterns of behavior as people move through

that world. Using sociological methods and systematic research
within the framework of the scientific method and a scholarly interpretive perspective, sociologists have discovered workplace patterns that have

transformed industries, family patterns that have enlightened family members, and education patterns that have aided structural changes in classrooms.
The crime during a full moon discussion put forth a few loosely stated opinions. If the human behaviors around those claims were tested systematically,

a police officer, for example, could write a report and offer the findings to sociologists and the world in general. The new perspective could help

people understand themselves and their neighbors and help people make better decisions about their lives. It might seem strange to use scientific

practices to study social trends, but, as we shall see, it’s extremely helpful to rely on systematic approaches that research methods provide.

30 Chapter 2 | Sociological Research
This OpenStax book is available for free at http://cnx.org/content/col11762/1.6
Sociologists often begin the research process by asking a question about how or why things happen in this world. It might be a unique question about a

new trend or an old question about a common aspect of life. Once the sociologist forms the question, he or she proceeds through an in-depth process to

answer it. In deciding how to design that process, the researcher may adopt a scientific approach or an interpretive framework. The following sections

describe these approaches
to knowledge.

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