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The Methods Of Research A Sociologist Uses Depends Above All On The Topic Being Studied.

968 words - 4 pages

The methods of research a sociologist uses depends above all on the topic being studied.The purpose of this paper is to explore some of the possible research methods a sociologist might use to study various different topics, each method used depends greatly on the topic studied and will determine the type of results that are achieved. I will investigate a few of these methods and provide an example to show how this method was used and give reasons why. I willOne way to study something; in particular, a group of people; is to use participant observation, this is also called ethnography and many argue that this is the best and most reliable method to research a group, it allows the researcher to view people in their natural setting and to see the actions they take rather than just noting the things they say; which can be very different. However for the study to be true and effective the researcher must be accepted and also trusted by the people he is going to watch which can take time. To overcome this some researchers choose not to tell the subjects what he is doing and this is called a covert study, a good example of this is Phillip Bourgois' (Selling Crack in El Barrio, 2002) investigation into the lives of those dealing and taking cocaine in a city in America. Bourgois was an undercover policeman and he learned many things while 'inside' this group like the fact that many of them went to work but were actually paid with vials of crack cocaine rather than money. Bourgois eventually wrote a book on his findings. However if he had chosen to reveal himself to the group he most certainly would not have been received into the group as openly as he was, given his position in society as a policeman. This possibly would put himself in immense danger, maybe even risking death, but by deceiving the group into thinking he was a friend, someone to be trusted, he was treated as one of them and provided with all the information he needed. There was no other way in which to study these people, except maybe an anonymous questionnaire, but the nature of the people was studied were in poverty and living on the edge of death, they would have no time for trivial matters like filling in a form, and also they would not want to risk exposing themselves and the criminal activities which dominated their lives, for fear of imprisonment, embarrassment or maybe shame.This is not to say though that overt studies do not have their own advantages as Howard Parker (sociology alive, 2001) discovered with his study of young delinquents in the 1970's. Parker's aim was to find out why these children behave as they do, but he saw fit to tell his subjects who he was and what he was...

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