As a rule social
research is used to get as abundant and up-to-date information as possible
which describes various aspects and nuances of the society life activity which
are often hidden from an outside point of view but which are to be taken into
consideration in the practice of political, administrative, economic,
financial, ideological and other types of social management. A most general
type of applied social research may be defined as a system of coherent
methodological, methodical and organizational-and-technical procedures related
to each other by the same objective which is obtaining trustworthy data of the
studies phenomenon or process in order to use such data for social management.
An applied social research consists of four
successive stages which are separated from the point of view of organization
and interrelated – from the point of view of the content:
Methodologicaland methodical preparation of the research;
is non-generalized various data obtained during the research (for example,
answers of respondents to the questionnaire questions, interviews, the
researcher’s records in the survey cards, document analysis cards etc.) which
are subject to further generalization;
Preparation of the
collected information for processing and its computer processing;
Mathematical and content
analysis of the processed information, preparation of a report, making
conclusions and recommendations.
A particular type of a social research depends on the nature of its
objective and set problems.
Three main types of social research are defined in accordance with the
set problems. that are, depending on the depth of the necessary analysis of the
topic, scope and complexity of the problems:
Thesurveillanceresearchsolves relatively simple problems as regards
their content, as a rule, it covers small studied sets and is based upon a
simplified program and reduced methodical tools which in sociology are
understood as a set of documents developed especially for each research and
intended for collection of primary sociological information.
This type of research may be used as a preliminary stage of profound and
wide-scale research or as means of collection of “rough” data as regards the
target of study.
Such need arises especially when the social research object is
insufficiently explored or unexplored. In particular the surveillanceresearch is
successfully applied in order to obtain additional information as regards the
subject matter and object of study, to state more accurately and to correct
hypotheses and tasks, methodical tools and limits of the studied set during a
profound, wide-scale descriptive or analytical researches as well as to reveal
difficulties that may arise during the research.
Fulfilling the abovementioned auxiliary tasks the surveillance research
provides for latest sociological information. In this case we can mention the
express survey as its type aimed at finding out the people’s attitude to
current events and facts (probing of public opinion) and effectiveness of
various events. For example express survey defines satisfaction of the
auditorium with the quality of an attended lecture, content and type of a
lesson. Often it is used to assess the progress and results of social and
political campaigns, in particular, election ones.
Asarule, more easily accessible methods of collection of primary
sociological information (for example, interview or questionnaires survey) that
take little time are used for surveillance research. At the same time if it is
necessary to get more accurate information of the subject matter and object of
a wide-scale research it is appropriate to apply a goal-oriented analysis of
literature and survey of specialists (experts) competent in the studied sphere
or well-acquainted with the object features. To achieve the same goal an active
group interview may be conducted.
The purposes and objectives of descriptive research imply obtaining empirical
data which offers a relatively comprehensive idea of the studied phenomenon and
its structural units. Such research is conducted in accordance with a complete,
detailed program using methodically tested tools. Its reliable methodological
basis allows to group and classify the elements of the studied object as
regards the indicators defined as essential ones for the studied problem.
As a rule the descriptive research is used when a large group of people
displaying various characteristic features is analyzed. It may be staff of a
large enterprise represented by employees of various professions and age with
different work experience, education, marital status etc., population of a
city, district, region, country. In these cases due to defining of relatively homogeneous
groups in the object structure one may do a by-turn assessment, juxtaposition
and comparison of the characteristic features one is interested in and to find
out presence or absence of relations between them.
Analyticresearchis the most profound type of sociological analysis
aiming at finding out the reasons that form the basis of and determine
occurrence, stability or changeability and other characteristic features of the
structural units of the studied phenomenon instead of its simple description.
Due to such purpose the analytic research is characterized by its especial
If during a
descriptive research presence (absence) of relations between some indicators of
the studied social phenomenon is found out the analytic research reveals
whether it is a causal relation.
As long as it is impossible to study one factor
influencing our life defining it as a separate “pure” phenomenon, nearly each
analytic research considers a set of factors later defining the main and secondary
ones, temporary and stable, obvious and concealed (latent), controllable and
Preparation for an analytic research including a
thorough development of the program and tools takes a lot of time. Often the
necessary preliminary data of some aspects of the studied object and subject
matter which enable one to choose the best ways of their further profound
analysis are collected in the course of a surveillance research or descriptive
Judging by methods of information collection the
analytic research is characterized as a complex one. It may apply various types
of survey, analysis of documents, observation which complement each other. Of
course it requires the skill of “interconnection”of data obtained by various
ways, use of certain criteria and their interpretation. Thus the analytic
research differs significantly from the descriptive and surveillance research
in the contents of the preparatory stage and primary information collection
stage as well as in approaches to generalization and explanation of the
The social experiment is an independent type of
analytic research. It is necessary to create an experimental situation by
change (to a greater or lesser degree) of usual conditions of functioningof the
object in which the researcher is interested in order to carry it out. During
the experiment special attention is paid to study of “behavior” of the factors
included in the experimental situation which add new features to the object.