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.
Sociologists often begin the research process by asking a question about how or why things happen in this world.
One person says, “It’s weird how Justin Bieber has 48 million followers on Twitter.” Another says, “Disney World is packed year round.” Those two seemingly benign statements are claims, or opinions, based on everyday observation of human behaviour.
Perhaps the speakers had firsthand experience, talked to experts, conducted online research, or saw news segments on TV. “I don’t see why anyone would want to go to Disney World and stand in those long lines.” “Are you kidding?! Students take sides, agreeing or disagreeing, as the conversation veers to topics such as crowd control, mob mentality, political protests, and group dynamics.
In deciding how to design that process, the researcher may adopt a positivist approach or an interpretive approach.
The following sections describe these approaches to knowledge.
” As you begin to think like a sociologist, you may notice that you have tapped into your observation skills.
You might assume that your observations and insights are valuable and accurate.
If the human behaviours around those claims were tested systematically, a student could write a report and offer the findings to fellow sociologists and the world in general.
The new perspective could help people understand themselves and their neighbours and help people make better decisions about their lives.