Social Research

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5. In the sciences, there are two major approaches to research: quantitative and qualitative. At the very simplest level, qualitative approaches deal with the subjective qualities of an entity while quantitative approaches investigate their focus through objective quantities. They both offer tools to collect and analyse very specific types of data. These methods serve very different, yet vital, means. These two groups of methods differ in many ways but the greatest amount of difference can be explained by the specific paradigms that the methods subscribe to. Although the paradigms tend to divide scientists, I argue that this should not be the case. Contrary to what I have learned throughout my academic career, I believe that qualitative and quantitative methods compliment and strengthen each other and improve each other’s findings.

Quantitative research is guided by the positivist paradigm. This is what many people believe and are taught is the method of “real science”. This paradigm seeks to collect data that can be ordered, categorized and graphed. Positivism is most concerned with the reliability, validity, and generalizability of the knowledge. This method begins with a theory. Using deductive logic, a testable hypothesis is formulated. Data is then collected and complied to test this theory (Bailey, 2007, p. 52). Quantitative research places immense importance on the neutrality of the researcher. It is crucial for the quantitative researcher to maintain a value-free approach in order to avoid influencing their results. It is believed that anything less allows for bias on the part of the researcher and subsequently, tainted results. The final product of research is supposed to hold no evidence of reaction to its findings. T...

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...If interaction were not explicitly forbidden, it can be imagined that the relationship would have remained professional and not crossed any lines.

Although I doubt it was the explicit goal of the filmmakers, Kitchen Stories portrays an example of the issues that can arise when social research becomes too rigid. The majority of this study’s flaws were highlighted for humour, the also carried a lot of truth. Although a certain amount of respect must be paid to the scientific method, studies of human behaviour require more creative solutions to the issues that can arise around bias. The study that took place in Kitchen Stories would have been more effective had they removed the human observer from the field entirely or allowed them to have more freedom in studying their subjects. Either way, some flexibility in their design would have served them well in the long run.

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