Before delving in to the intensity of research methodology let me start with a common scene in your university. You are in your university cafeteria, with a cup of coffee or tea and you begin with stating:
You: “I can’t understand how Justin Bieber or Luis Fonsi can have almost 50 million followers!”
You friend (while taking a sip from the cup): “Can you imagine Disney World is so crowded that it is difficult to get ticket irrespective of seasons!”.
You: Really! Do you find more interest in children’s Disney World than watching and listening to Bieber or Fonsi?
Your friend: Yes, of course. It doesn’t make any sense to me that people stand in front of their hotels only to get a glimpse of them!!!…
You: Ohh… Come on. You’re not a teenage! It’s far better to see a teenage heart throb than to visit childern’s Disney World.”
These simple and apparently benign everyday ‘common’ conversation as well as observation (though ‘common’ things are not ‘so common’ at all) may have deep rooted sociological interpretations. Sometimes these types of conversations turn in to a debate involving aspects like group dynamics, behavioural aspects, mob mentality, crowd control etc. You can take a deep plunge into by posing question like why Justin Bieber or Luis Fonsi are famous and among what type of mass they are famous. A detailed understanding of the answers of these questions may include the analysis of their voice quality, the words of the songs, the way of presentation, the theme of the chosen song etc. Also, if you wish to analyse the like for Disney World you may need to muse on the characters of Disney, why Mickey Mouse is a cartoon celebrity moreover when it is larger-than-life, how people visiting Disney World feel to live inside their favourite cartoons and so on. In both of these cases gender binary can play an important role as well. To find out hidden reasons behind these facts we need to conduct research not only for these cases but also for other fact-finding areas.
While exploring and/or explaining and/ or describing a particular social structure we, sometimes, need to conduct interviews or simply need to be a keen observer. Thus, sociological research primarily depends upon two major designs: conclusions deriving from statistical description and/ or inference (named as quantitative) and/ or systematic review and interpretive framework from systematic observations (named as qualitative). Since sociology deals with society and interprets it in a systematic manner it needs a proper methodology to be addressed as a social science. For a critical analysis of a particular social structure we need to adopt a well-structured research design. We, sometimes, need help from theories also for the analyses. In this manner a well-defined scientific result can be achieved.
If, we take the example of the cafeteria, from where the questions of research generated, we will see few hidden steps are involved in getting the appropriate result
- We need to define specific questions (here the ‘why’ and ‘how’ questions)
- Collecting information and resources (either through statistical data or observations)
- Forming a statement that needed to be proved correct or incorrect (through step no. 2)
- Analysing the data collected or observation made
- Coming up to a conclusion in a statement form
- Showing your result for future references
Thus, a banal observation or statement may lead to a proper scientific study with the help of a methodology that may give the society something new in terms of the analysis of its structure–function, interaction and/ or conflict. A proper methodological skill enhances observation power and subjective insights. The basic difference between casual observation and sociological insight is- in the case of casual observation there is no standardization (in case of any argument between two people whose point is more accurate and/ or whose point we should follow), but a proper methodology gives that observation a research standard. In this manner a common observation becomes a research question with the help of a proper methodology. Thus, methodology bridges the gap between theory and research. So, start thinking critically (as I discussed before in the segment of why study sociological theories https://adamasuniversity.ac.in/why-study-theories-a-sociological-perspective/ ) and establish your critical thinking by adopting a proper methodology.
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