Research Methods in Sociology and Anthropology

Research Methods in Sociology and Anthropology

As Bryman (2012) notes, sociology being an academic study that investigates the social makeup, origin development, and institutionalization uses various empirical methods to set pace on social order, disorder and to note existing changes or variances. The two notable research methods applied by sociology are case studies and experimental research. Case studies allows the sociologist to understand the makeup of the people they are studying and further it permits them to develop a line on the outcomes which later lead them to make conclusions. It is done through studying a small group of people or participants.

Experimental researches are also common in sociology as they determine how and why specific events occur. Normally, experimental research combines the use of specific variables, which may be independent and dependent. Experimental method may be preferred in sociology as it allows the researchers to have a wider scope of the fields they would like to investigate. It is also preferred as it allows them to anticipate new outcomes they thought might not have existed (Bryman, 2012). Experimental study permits the sociologist to control certain factors also known as the extraneous variable allowing them to understand different aspects on the form of research they are conducting. Sociologists also prefer this method as it set out the variables that the researcher is investigating hence establishing a position to be investigated.

According to Bernard (2011), cultural anthropology also has its own research methods that it applies. The most notable of these methods are participant observation and cross cultural comparison. Under participant observation, the anthropologist sets out to observe the participant in their day-to-day activities and later allowing him to create or set out the ideologies they are investigating. Participant observation allows the researcher to live or spend a significant amount of time with the communities or the participants they are investigating which makes them to achieve massive data first hand.

Cross-cultural comparison is also another common aspect that is applied by anthropologist in their endeavor to arise at conclusion or while they are studying certain aspects of communities in their field of interest. There are several justifications that explain why most researchers opt for this method while they are conducting their researches. The most common aspect is that it allows the researcher to use different insights either from other researchers or from their own studies. Cross-cultural comparison also allows the researcher to determine why people exude a certain characters, which makes it better for them to understand how it affects their research (Bernard, 2011)

In comparing these methods applied by sociology to those that are applied by anthropology, one notable aspect that arises is the high level of allowance to understanding a wider scope or room for the unknown. Another aspect arises from the fact that these methods directly focus on studying human beings and their relationship to the environment. In contrast, these research methods focus on different variables and thus they take different positions whenever the research is underway. For example, under the cross-cultural study, the research has to rely on different aspects of more than one community, which is not majorly the intention of research methods under sociology. It is also worth noting that while sociology methods focus on establishing mostly the order disorder or the variances, under anthropology the research only focus on answering why and how people exude a certain demeanor and further it explains how this relates to the human existence over the years.


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