Social Research

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:


1)     Methodologicaland methodical preparation of the research;

2)     Collectionofprimarysociologicalinformationthat 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;

3)     Preparation of the collected information for processing and its computer processing;

4)     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:

·        Surveillance Research

·        Descriptive Research

·        Analytic Research



Surveillance Research


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.


Descriptive Research


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 usefulness.


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 non-controllable ones.


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 research.


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 results.


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.

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