Free Research Methods In Sociology And Anthropology Essay Example
Type of paper: Essay
Topic: Study, Education, Anthropology, Culture, Information, Researcher, Sociology, Social Studies
In studying the social sciences, of sociology and anthropology, research is required as is in all the other sciences. The requirement in gathering data to develop a hypothesis and various methods of research are available in the completion of the analysis. Sociology and anthropology have similar methods of exploration since both involve studying the people in society, past and present. To develop a deeper understanding of the value in the use of different approaches, two descriptions from sociology, and two from anthropology are presented. Lastly, a method from each respective subject is compared and contrasted to increase comprehension of the research methodologies.
There are many options for collecting information in developing a theory on a sociological study; however, our focus remains on the survey method and direct observation method for the paper.
The survey method is a series of questions designed in correlation with the subject of inquiry. The questions can be simple yes or no style questions, or open-ended question. Researchers develop the questions with an objective in mind that the answers are intended to help determine. These surveys are provided in various formats- on paper, over the internet, through the phone, or in person.
Direct observation, as the name suggests, involves the direct physical presence of the researcher to collect facts. In this situation, entering into an environment with unsuspecting participants, the researcher aims to obtain unbiased information through the observation of behaviors. For this reason, the individual who is responsible for watching should be cautious to avoid interacting with the subjects.
Justification for use of the survey method as a reliable research option is founded on the probability theory. The information gathered from questioning the sample group is an indicator of the consensus of the entire population. Regardless of criticism of the survey method, it has been used for decades. Use of the survey method in research is beneficial in saving time, money, and when designed well, a high level of accuracy (Bailey, 1994).
In moving onto the area of cultural anthropology, one must take note that the foundation for anthropology differs slightly from the usual social sciences because aspects of the humanities are intermingled in the study. More importantly, research is also a part of exploring cultural anthropology, so two research methods used in cultural anthropology are presented. Cultural immersion (indirect observation method) and interviewing are approaches to collect data in studying cultural anthropology.
The indirect observation method of cultural immersion requires the researcher to mesh with the environment that he or she is monitoring. In this style of information gathering, the subjects of the study should have no knowledge of the observance so that changes in participant behavior do not interfere with the data gathered. Otherwise, the facts collected will not be as accurate as they would be when participants behave naturally. In this style of research, the researcher may find themselves living among people he or she is studying. Varying degrees of participation may be involved for the sake of precision in the findings of the study (Bernard & Gravlee, 2014).
Interviewing individuals as an option for exploration can also be beneficial. This method allows the researcher to ask focused questions for concrete answers. The possibility of inaccuracy caused by influence of the researcher’s perspective are less likely when questions are directly answered by the subjects studied. On some occasions, the interviewer has been indirectly observing the culture he or she is studying prior to developing interview questions to establish a firmer understanding of the culture.
The interview method can be a highly accurate data collection option, especially if the researcher has become immersed in the culture prior to his or her developing the questions relevant to the study. As the researcher has had the opportunity to involve him or herself through indirect observation in conjunction with the advantage of asking direct questions of subjects, validity of information gathered is increased.
Differences and Similarities of Research Methods
The brief overview of the examples provided on research methods used in sociology and cultural anthropology provide an insight into the process of collecting data for developing theories. One can see that similarities exist in the various styles of research that are interchangeable used in both sociology and anthropology.
In reference to the examples of the direct observation method and indirect observation method both similarly require the partaking of the researcher in examining the participants he or she is gathering information. However, the difference between the two is the manner in which the researcher has placed him or herself in the study. In the direct observational method, the focus is observing particular behaviors of unknowing participants, while on the contrary in the indirect method an extended immersion may be required by the researcher.
For the survey and interview methods, a series of questions are developed with the aim of learning more about the group or behavior of the study. The biggest contrast in the survey versus interview process is the types of questions to ask, as well as the execution of the task. Surveys are less detailed and personal, but interviews could be very particular and intimate in nature.
In conclusion of the discussion of research methods used in sociology and cultural anthropology, one can see that research is a fundamental process in any field of science. Often the methods overlap and are similar in the various subjects, but the manner in which the data are collected depend on the nature of the study.
Bailey, K. (1994). Methods of social research (4th ed.). New York, New York: The Free Press.
Bernard, R. H., & Gravlee, C. C. (2014). Handbook of methods in cultural anthropology (2nd
ed.). Lanham, Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield.