The Systematic Study Of A Human Society Essay Examples
Type of paper: Essay
Topic: Sociology, Society, Social Studies, Information, Science, Education, Study, People
As a result of a long-term struggle to be called an independent, not contiguous to any other disciplines, sociology was elevated to the level of science. Being a multiple paradigm science, sociology offers a wide field of research whereby it is possible to be always in search of new patterns of social development, relationships between societal systems and their structural study. A broad field of enquiry starts from the studying of the social structure, complex relationships between the members of the society and social institutions which are as glue binds people into a unit that is called society. While sociology has its object of study namely society that is swiftly developing, we can claim about the sociological perspective. Being divided into various branches such as for instance sociology of religion and sociology of politics, sociology takes roots and contributes to the development of other sciences. This can probably provide a secure future for the sociological researches. In order to claim that the results of each or that research are reliable and valid, our attention should be turned to the methods that are used for their conducting. Exactly these instruments called methods that help sociologists to reach an objective knowledge as close as possible and at the same time come from everyday to scientific knowledge can be called as constituent parts of sociology.
With the goal to study the structure of the society more thoroughly sociologists try to implement different designs. Among the top most popular are survey, observational and dealing with already existing material and amount of information (secondary sources). It is definitely hard to judge whether some of them can lead to more valuable results and provide with more reliable information. Nevertheless, the first two research designs are getting more common though sometimes the third design precedes the implementation of each research program. Because of the frequent hypothetical assumptions according to various social problems or events in everyday life, there appears a need to test the hypothesis and check the accuracy of the facts. The more appropriate methods used for the research the more probability to get reliable and valid information.
Among the most commonly known and used methods that correspond to the mentioned above research designs are survey research that is in turn subdivided into questionnaires and interviews, participant observation and secondary/historical analysis. To start with, there exists a certain stereotype within the population that sociologists are those who always conduct surveys on acute issues and offer people questionnaire to fill in. In reality, this method is really the most popular one, though not so easy in implementation. The main goal of this method that seems at first sight universal is to receive information about people’s subjective impression or understanding of something. This information allows social scientists to estimate the human inner motivation of doing in this or that ways and thus visualize the situation according to specific issues in general. But in both types of the survey research the main difficulty consists in deciding which questions to ask and how in order to be competent and receive the most accurate answer if it’s possible. Let’s have a look at both types of this survey method. Unlike the questionnaire that doesn’t require a direct contact between two people and is conducted indirectly, interview on the contrary can be realized via a conversation with the respondent according to a certain plan during which the mentioned above direct contact is mandatory. Depending on the techniques interviews differ considerably and can be divided into free, non-standardized and formalized. The main difference between them is that the free and non-standardized interviews are not supported with detailed questions while the third type should include a detailed design of the whole procedure, the general plan of the supposed conversation and sometimes sequence and structure of the issues and possible options. In cases when there is no need in a long discussion, then telephone interview can be held with the aim to find out people’s opinion (preliminarily stage).
In case sociologists deal with questionnaires, there are distinguished open surveys that consist in giving a complete answer to the given questions and respondents can express their point of view in a free form and closed where the only thing the respondent has to do is to choose the only answer among the provided variants.
Another method in sociology that allows scientists to improve theoretical concepts during the direct interaction between a researcher and a described reality is a participant observation. The “participation” itself means that the researcher appears as an observer (insider) who tries to study the everyday life from inside being involved into the process. With the help of this method it is more possible to get deep and profound knowledge about the object that should be studied. Closeness to the people or culture and traditions that are observed makes this method preferable for scientists even though it sometimes takes much time to reach the necessary results. Moreover, sociologists who use this method face such problems as less representative data and heavy expenses, but instead they get much more valuable first-hand qualitative data. This method can be used not as an alternative to more complex and improved methods but on the contrary as a method that can include techniques of different methods as for example clinical interview or at least analysis of documents. Taking into consideration more general cases, participant observation is based on non-formalized interview, though the fact that there can be used less representative data doesn’t indicate the lack of the theoretic logic. There is undoubtedly no strict measure between the existing formal theory and empirical knowledge but this gives an opportunity for the researchers to consider all methods of data collection as such methods that can create the prerequisites for further development of scientific theories. In this case sociological perspective makes sense, because when we consider that theories are rooted in the reality of a particular social experience, in our everyday life we suppose and predict that this scope of study can be developed in further researches.
In comparison to the two previous sociological methods the secondary/historical method distinguishes with the direct reference to the events in the past in order to educe the current state of society. In addition, the core idea of this method is definitely description and explanation of the similarities and differences that appear within the society and also to find out and identify trends and patterns of development of the rapidly changing society. Moreover, this method was highly evaluated by such titans of sociology as Kont and and Spencer who claimed that comparing the preceding and succeeding states of the society allows to deduce laws based on this development. The slightest differences can become indicators of the fact that the social structures and systems are evolving and sociological perspective consists in revealing the stages of the societal development in the future. This method is sometimes called secondary because of the sources that are used for research and these sources are in most cases: books, manuscripts or records which involve interpreted information and different analyses that were highly assessed at that time but that gradually lose their value.
Sometimes, being an inseparable part of the society people rarely think about the complex mechanism of its functioning. That is why the fact that people are bound with a great number of social institutions seems to be taken for granted. In the process of grasping hidden structure of the external world, people are faced with new levels of reality. The main reason why sociology can be called perspective is that it is developing. This is facilitated by such factors as: sociology as a science has already become universal, a rapid push to an intensive exchange of ideas with foreign countries and deepening institutionalization of sociology as a science. Established norms and relationships in a certain way organize society in concerted actions of a living system, in which everything is distributed in its place and each element performs certain functions. All in all, it seems to be clear that acute social problems are usually superimposed and intertwined as a result forming a large-scale system. Trying to solve these problems through research gives scientists an opportunity to continue finding new catching unknown issues and this process eventually doesn’t end, but turns into a chain of new researches.