Sociology provides us with knowledge of the social world. It studies everyday life, social divisions, social change, characteristic ways in which sociologists approach these - de-familiarizing. Research methods are never neutral, they are always depending on outlooks. Research methods with the results they provide are social products.
Appreciation and evaluation of sociological texts needs the knowledge of how those texts were produced. Key to good sociology is whether the research criteria other people can inspect. What is known? values, beliefs and perception brought into what is known, how are they known?
documentary and visual material
facts / values
The authority is best guaranteed by adopting scientific approach - from natural sciences - study in objective manner. Observation, measurement and the establishment of universal laws of cause and effect. Direct observation, scientists remaining detached from their object of study. Limited number of variables in closed system (no interference from the outside - facts kept separated from values). By manipulating the variable and observing the effects on another variable, they can conclude that there is relationship between variables. If this can be repeated, then the outcome can become scientific law.
difficulty achieving experimental closure, ecological validity
cosntructing measures, establish relationships between variables via statistics
Mostly associated with positivists. Have lot in common with qualitative methods - both can be understood as involving in the production of knowledge in social context. Socially produced, usually as statistics. Criticized for assumed neutrality and evidence being treated as factual and objective and people being treated as numbers. Researchers combine range of methods -statistical data with quantitative survey data. Quantitative analyses have helped rational decision making, basis for solution to all kinds of problems, such solutions are regarded as neutral and disinterested, but in fact predisposed and interested.
The objects - people - are different from those found in natural sciences and therefore different methods should be used. Positivists impose researchers own values and meaning. Qualitative methods offer access to the actors’ point of view. They seek to study and understand the social world from the inside - starting from actors point of view.