METHODS OF SOCIOLOGICAL ENQUIRY
IGNOU BSOC 134 Solved Free Assignment
BSOC 134 Solved Free Assignment July 2023 & January 2024
Q. 1. What do you mean by social research? How is it different from ‘common sense’?
Ans. Social science research is an act of re-examining the social world with the goal of better understanding or explaining why or how people behave. P .V.
Young defines social research as “the systematic method of discovering the new facts or verifying the old facts, their sequences, inter relationship, causal explanations and the natural laws which govern them.”
Stephenson says social research as “a manipulation of things concepts or symbols for the purpose of generalizing to extend correct and verifying knowledge, whether that knowledge aids in the construction of a theory or in the practice of an art.”
Social research involves defining and redefining problems; formulating hypothesis or suggesting solutions; collecting organising and evaluating data, making deduction and making conclusions; and at last carefully testing the conclusions to determine whether they fit the formulated hypothesis.
Social research includes methods and tools and techniques of research, which helps us to draw causal relationships, inter-relationship between variables and testing of hypothesis.
Social research involves learning something new about the social world. Social research helps us in adding new knowledge by supporting or disagreeing with the existing knowledge.
Common sense varies from person to person since opinions are not the same among a group of people. Sociology is closely related to commonsense as it touches the day-to-day experience of common people.
But they differ. Sociological knowledge can be called as general, while commonsense is particular and localised.
Commonsense is also unreflective because it does not question its own origin and pre-suppositions. Sociology helps us in understanding a society, but commonsense does not give us such an understanding.
Sociology makes systematic investigation of the object with tools and techniques, but commonsense involves preconception. Commonsense is utopian, while sociology is anti utopian.
Sociology is anti-fatalistic and does not accept the particular constraints taken for granted by commonsense as eternal or immutable.
It offers a clearer awareness than commonsense of the range of alternatives that have been or may be devised for the attainment of broadly the same ends.
Sociology is free of all forms of biases and value judgements but commonsense has biases and errors. Commonsense can be said as routine knowledge of everyday activities.
Commonsense is key to Alfred Schutz’s phenomeno-logical sociology, where it means organized and typified stocks of taken for granted knowledge upon which activities are based and that in the natural attitude are not questioned.
For ethnomethodologizts, commo-nsense is a constant achievement in which people draw on implicit rules of how to conduct and which produce a sense of organisation and coherence.
Some sociolo-gists see commonsense as different from sociological understanding. Durkheim says sociology must break free of the prejudice of commonsense perceptions before it can produce scientific knowledge of the social world.
Marxists consider commonsense as ideological or at least very limited in its understanding of the world.
Q. 2. Discuss Gouldner’s view on reflexivity.
Ans. Gouldner wants explore the manner in which theory products and theory performances are generated and received.
For the production of theory, Gouldner’s conception is different from the methodologists who focus on the interaction between theory and research.
He says that it is not possible to know how social theory is made or how it makes its way in the world. He argues that a researcher changes reality.
The objectivity is based on the researchers’ values and the justification they give. It projects the reality as in the way the researcher wants to see it. The knowledge is not independent of the knower.
A communication theory can be understood if we are able to comprehend the various ways in which the theorist is placed in their theories.
For social theorists, certain facts have come from their experience rather than research. It is not a problem for them to rely on these facts.
The importance of the facts depends on their ordering. Social theorizing is often a search for the meaning of the personally real, that which is already assumed to be known through personal experience.
Thus, it is an effort to locate and interpret the meaning of what one has lived and to reduce the tension between a social event and process that the theorist takes to be real and some values which this violates.
There are two kinds of social world for the social theorist: ‘permitted’ and ‘unpermitted’. The theorist tries to change the unpermitted into the permitted world and thus the threat of the unpermitted and strengthen the permitted.
For this, there are two ways for theorists: (a) By communicating the importance of the normal world, (b) By ignoring or denying the values of unpermitted world.
To find and assign meanings of the social objects, social theories are locating objects in terms of their potency and goodness. In a value free social theory, this is done covertly.
Gouldner says sociologists cannot tell what they are doing and what they should be doing. Reflexive sociology deals with what they want to do and what they actually do in the world.
He argues that it intends to change the sociologists to penetrate deeply into his daily life and work enriching them with new sensitivities and to raise the sociologists self awareness to a new historical level.
Reflexive sociology presupposes a new praxis that would change the sociologist himself. Consequently our consciousness comes to deeply show our sociological work and social position.
This is one of the objectives of reflexive sociology and to succeed in this reflexive sociology according to Gouldner needs to be radical because to advance the knowledge of the world it is important for the sociologist to understand his/her knowledge of himself/herself and one’s position in the social world and also understand the social world of the other men.
This demands that the sociologists have to view their own beliefs as they view the beliefs held by others and this would change how sociologists have been viewing themselves and others.
Reflexive sociology pursues the change reflexivity of the self of the sociologist and subsequently his praxis in the world. This would end the distinction between the layman, who are studied and the sociologist, who studies.
But in the absence of reflexive sociology this distinction would always remain. Gouldner asserts that the separation between the knower and the known must be overcome, because it is impossible to know others without knowing yourself.
To know the others the sociologist cannot simply study them but must also listen to them and confront him/her.
Reflexive sociology changes the meaning of knowledge. It does not remain merely a piece of information, but becomes awareness.
Reflexive sociology for Gouldner is moral sociology as it demands moral and ethical commitment unlike the positivistic sociology which demands the sociologist to be neutral and apolitical.
A Reflexive Sociology opposes and rejects the methodological dualism as witnessed in positivism.
This dualism separates the subject and objects of research, separates the facts from values, reduces the knowledge of the social world to mere information and sees social world as mirrored in sociologist’s work rather than as “constituted by the sociologists cognitive commitments and all his other interests”.
The aim of the Reflexive Sociology is not to remove his influence on others but to understand his own influence “which requires that he must become aware of himself as both knower and as agent of change”.
Q. 3. Explain the significance of ideal type.
Ans. According to Weber, an ideal type is formed by the one-sided accentuation of one or more points of view and by the synthesis of a great many diffuse, discrete, more or less present and occasionally absent concrete individual phenomena, which are arranged according to those one-sidedly emphasized viewpoints into a unified analytical construct.
He believed that the use of ideal types can lead to an interpretative understanding. It is not a hypothesis but it provides guidance in building hypothesis.
It is not a description of reality but it seeks to give a clear means to describe the reality. Ideal types are created according to the reality.
Elements selected from the reality which fit together in the most rational and suitable way can build ideal types.
The ideal type is a utopia. It is a mental construct which does not exist in reality. By building a rational ideal type, we learn how the world works.
Ideal types are created, modified and sharpened through the empirical analysis of concrete problems.
Ideal type has been used by him as a device in understanding historical configurations or specific historical problems and is different in both scope and usage from descriptive concepts, which can be transformed into an ideal type.
Q. 4. What is the evolutionist method? Discuss.
Ans. Evolutionary method aims at discovering the origins of everything. Applying this method, researchers study societies and cultures from the point of view of societies passing through successive stages.
They assume that all societies follow the same path of development. The progress of societies is viewed from a unilinear perspective. Herbert Spencer, Auguste Comte, Morgan, Frazer and Bachofen used this method.
In the second half of the 19th century, the systematic study of societies first started to appear. The approach to the study of societies then was evolutionary in nature. The evolutionary method was used to write about the history.
They tried to discover the origins of everything and studied societies and cultures from the point of view of societies passing through successive stages.
The assumption was that all societies follow the same path of development and the progress of societies was viewed from a unilinear perspective.
English philosopher, biologist and anthropologist Herbert Spencer was among the first to use the method of social evolution.
He used the historical method when writing on the large scale changes in society and wrote about the changes from simple to compound due to the transformation in population size.
French philosopher and social visionary Auguste Comte also used the historical method. During the French Revolution and the Industrial Revolution, Comte was trying to understand the changes happening in society.
He adopted an evolutionary perspective on the development of society. Using the historical approach, he wrote on the origins of human thought.
He traced the origin of all human societies from a theological to a metaphysical stage to finally a positivist stage in which scientific explanations dominate.
Another prominent anthropologist Lewis Henry Morgan, who used the evolutionary method, worked on the origins of totemism, marriage and family.
James Frazer whose work was on the origins of totemism was among the other notable evolutionists. His method influenced scholars including Bachofen, Kohler and Durkheim.
The evolutionists were criticised for their belief that all societies were similar and that they all follow the same path of development.
Q. 5. Elaborate the comparative methods used by Redcliffe-Brown.
Ans. According to Radcliffe-Brown, comparative anthropology or sociology aims to explore the varieties of social life as a basis for the theoretical study of human social phenomena.
Comparative method looks for parallels similar social features in different societies in the past or in the present. Radcliffe-Brown says the Australian Tribal societies are divided into oppositions based on totems.
Birds and animals are used to categorise the moieties, like the Eaglehawk and Crow, and this is found in many other societies as well.
Radcliffe-Brown collected many stories about Eaglehawk and crow in different parts of Australia and in all of them the two are found as opponents in conflicts.
He gives an example from Western Australia how crow became what he is today. Eaglehawk was the mother’s brother of Crow and Eaglehawk made the Crow suffer after he told him a lie.
Radcliffe-Brown found that in the stories narrated by the Australians there are number of parallels to the tale of Eaglehawk and Crow.
Radcliffe-Brown also mentioned that the tale of Wombat and Kangaroo from the region where South Australia. In the beginning Wombat and kangaroo lived together as friends. Once they fought.
Kangaroo hit the Wombat with a stone on his head and flattened his skull; Wombat on the other hand threw a spear at Kangaroo which fixed itself at the base of the backbone.
The wombat has a flattened skull to this day and the kangaroo has a tale and are no longer friends.
A comparative study reveals that the eaglehawk and crow are only a particular example of widespread phenomena.
First, these tales interpret the resemblances and differences of animal species in terms of social relationships of friendship and antagonism as they are called in the social life of human beings.
Secondly, natural species are placed in pairs of opposites. They can only be so regarded if there is some respect in which they resemble each other.
Thus, the eaglehawk and crow resemble each other in being the two prominent meat eating birds.
Comparative study also tries and discovers the diverse forms that the opposition between the moieties of a dual division takes in actual life. The expression of opposition between moieties may take different forms.
One is the institution of ‘the joking relationship’. This institution is found in various societies.
Opposition is also expressed in another major custom. Some tribes of Australia and North America play football as oppon-ents.
Two groups in a social structure can be maintained in a relation in whom they are opponents. A third relationship of opposition is also there. It is a combina-tion of agreement and disagreement of solidarity and difference.
Radcliffe-Brown started with the existence of moieties named after the Eaglehawk and crow in Australia and by making comparisons amongst other societies, found that this was not particular or peculiar to a region but is a widespread general tendency of human societies.
He thus substitutes for a specific problem of the type that calls for a historical explanation certain general problems.
Q. 6. Discuss Feminist empiricism.
Ans. The feminist empiricists included women into the study but continued to follow the existing methodologies.
They believed that for feminist research to be taken seriously it was important to follow the existing scientific methods of research.
Feminist empiricists consider how feminist values can legitimately inform empirical inquiry, and how scientific methods can be improved in light of demonstrations of sex bias in science.
Quine presupposes an individualist account of inquiry, while most feminist empiricists advocate a socialized epistemology, in which inquiry is treated as a social practice, and the subjects of knowledge may even be communities.
Q. 7. Outline the features of ethno methodological Research.
Ans. The following are the characteristics of ethnographic research:
(i) In ethnography, the researchers study culture which is a system shared by groups of people who practice and experience certain patterns of behaviour, values, norms and standards.
They study culture as an entity in itself. They study how folk life is established, changed or destroyed and the ways in which culture is transmitted from one generation to another generation.
(ii) In ethnography, the researcher perceives human action in the context of the whole system as individual actions are manifestations of cultural standards and principles of the large socio-cultural system.
Thus, many feminists have employed critical ethnography to explain invisibility, oppression and exploitation of women in the context of the family and society.
(iii) In this method, the researchers are interested in making in-depth studies but not in surface counting survey data.
They gather information by living for a longer period in the group they investigate and experiencing culture the way their subjects do. Their observation is naturalistic and captures social life as it unfolds in natural situations.
(iv) Ethnography as a method is employed by anthropologists, sociologists and social scientists irrespective of their chronological orientation.
In order to study the research topic most effectively the ethnographer gathers first-hand information by employing a dynamic form of data collection and analysis that is based on flexibility, reactivity and self-correction.
This enables him to adjust the approach, design and method.
(v) Ethnographic research is conducted towards humanistic concerns and values that throw light on the essence of culture in which people live and experiences gained through living in their culture.
Ethnographic research makes use of previously collected information to understand other cultures and environments and to gear up the study to attain more effective and realistic goals.
Q. 8. Discuss ICT impacts in social sciences research.
Ans. ICT has made it convenient for the researcher to access these materials. A researcher can access articles, books, academic journals, institutional repositories, archives, or other collections of scientific and other articles on the Internet.
There are bibliographic databases which provide information on books and journal. There are databases such as EBSCO Publishing, African Journals Online, Airiti INC, DeepDyve, Google Scholar, Indian Citation Index, J-Gate, JSTOR, Mendeley, Microsoft Academic, OpenEdition.org, Project Muse, Social Science Citation Index, Social Science Research Network, Springer Link, Shodhganga and Swayam Prabha.
Observation methods such as experiments, survey research, qualitative field research, unobtrusive and the evaluation techniques can use ICT.
Experiments are one of the most rigorously controllable of the methods used in social science research.
Survey research, the most popular methods in social science, engages itself with collecting data by asking people questions.
Interviews can be both telephonic and face-to-face. The qualitative field research examines the natural form of data collection by the researchers.
Q. 9. What is Experimental research?
Ans. Experimental research is conducted with a scientific approach, where a bunch of variables are kept constant while the other bunches of variables are being measured as the subject of experiments.
Experimental research designs include post-test only control group design, which perhaps is the simplest of the experim-ental designs, where a sample of participants is exposed to a treatment after which the dependent variable is evaluated and measured.
The next type of experimental research design is single subject experimental research designs, also known as a single-case research design. It lends us a strategy for recording experimental effects.
Single-case research has been used for quite some purposes like erecting basic dictums of behaviour; capture the footprints of specific mediations, and more vitally to develop a body of evidence-based strategies.
The staple element of single-case research is the use of each participating respondent as his or her own experimental control.
Next in this category are the reversal experimental research designs, which are among the family of single-case experimental designs used extensively by behavioural scientists and educators to enumerate the effectiveness of clinical or educational mediations.
Another prominent research design in this category is the alternating treatment design.
It is constituted of rapid and random or semi- random alteration of two or more situations such that each has an approximately equal chance of being present during each measurement opportunity.
Mention must also be made of multiple-baseline research design, another popular form of research design, especially used in clinical science.
Q. 10. Discuss various sources of history.
Ans. There are many sources of history such as government records, written accounts of societies and accounts on artefacts, clothes, ornaments and weapons.
The kind of sources used to gather information about societies is dependent on the nature of societies. In complex societies, sources like written accounts of societies, documents and government records are available.
Simple societies have no written records because the level of technological development is lesser than complex societies.
Simple societies have sources like: artefacts, weapons, clothes or even oral histories. British social anthropologist A. R.
Radcliffe Brown was among the earliest thinkers to write on the use of the historical method.
While analysing the use of the historical method for explanations, Radcliffe-Brown traces the development and changes in the use of history in sociology and social anthropology.