Major Research Methods in Sociology
Method Characteristics Advantages Disadvantages
Survey Selecting a representative sample of people and asking them to fill out questionnaires, interviewing them in person or on the phone Self-administered questionnaires inexpensive and useful: greater response from subjects in personal interviews: phone interviews convenient Questionnaires not returned” personal interviews costly in time and money: phone interviews discourage subjects’ cooperation Observation Observing subjects’ activities as a detached outsider or as a participating member identifying or concealing oneself as a researcher to subjects Provides firsthand experiences with natural, real life situations: useful for developing new theories Findings largely relevant to one particular case: not generalizable to other cases or useful for testing theories Experiment Manipulating variables to determine their influence on subjects in the field or laboratory Relatively easy to test theories by determining the relationship between independent and dependent variables Observer’s presence in the field may influence subjects: subjects may not behave the same outside laboratory as inside Analysis of existing data Secondary analysis involves studying someone else’s quantitative data: content analysis entails examining and converting qualitative into quantitative data Both secondary and content analysis save much time and money: content analysis also unobtrusive to subjects and uniquely suitable for historical research Both secondary and content analysis not sufficiently valid and reliable because interpretation of data tends to be subjective.
From the point of countries, politicians will perceive the ongoing situation as a wake-up call with regard to lower birth rates, more demands on houses, and more energy consumption. Firstly, more single households mean more single persons, and the population will shrink in the wake of falling number of married couples. Secondly, more houses are required to fulfill the need of individuals, which cause cities even more densely populated. London is a famous example; the number of houses has been stimulated by 48% over the past five years, and 80% of them are for singles. Finally, the consumption of electricity and gas will soar when more people choose to live on their own, and it will further pose a threat to our livelihood.