Social Research Essay

Social Research Essay

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AISHA GITTENS-HIPPOLYTE

Taking Two Of The Theoretical Approaches To Social Research Discussed In The Module, Demonstrate The Connections Between Their Ontological, Epistemological And Methodological Assumptions. Which Method Or Methods Would Proponents Of Each Theory Favour As A Result Of Their Assumptions.


In order to understand the production of sociological knowledge one must first examine the thought processes that lay behind each piece of research. Before a particular subject matter is researched, the researcher firstly makes certain assumptions about that matter. These assumptions differ dependent on the theoretical approach that is taken. They can be divided into three logical areas, namely ontology, epistemology and methodology.

Sociologists researchers first make ontological assumptions. That is to say, they decide what they are studying or what should be studied. They decide what the subject matter consists of and the meanings behind it. They must consider the social reality and the nature of being, in relation to the subject matter.

Having satisfied this researchers then make epistemological assumptions surrounding the subject matter. They must decide on the type of evidence to be collected, considering which evidence will deliver optimum validity. They must decide which stance to take during research, objective or neutral, considering which would be possible or even favourable. They must then think about how this can be best achieved. Should the research be classified as 'scientific' or 'unscientific' and what determines this?

Based on the preceding ontological and epistemological assumptions a researcher then makes methodological assumptions. Having decided on exactly what is to be studied the researcher then decides how the research can best be managed thus formulating a plan of action. Considerations include whether the research used should be primary or secondary. Whether one will test an existing hypothesis or whether one will construct a theory after having collated evidence. Finally one can draw conclusions as to which strategy to implement with the ultimate goal of producing the type of knowledge that is required. This then results in the type of method or methods of research to be used.

To investigate this further I will discuss these assumptions and identify particular methods favoured in relation to two contrasting theories, ...


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...ences and to raise any questions or issues that they may have. The research must be useful, ensuring that the reasons for the research are in the best interests of the oppressed and is necessary to bring about social change.

Methods

The methods favoured by standpoint theorists must give voice to the concerns of the oppressed. They must be able to be representative of those groups. This links this theory to qualitative methods such as in-depth interviewing or participant observation. These methods would allow the researcher to come into close contact with the subject and allow the subject's own point of view to be heard.
Other methods can be used such as questionnaires, as long as they serve a useful purpose. As long they ultimately serve to improve the lives of the oppressed.

Using two theoretical approaches to social research namely, Positivism and Standpoint theory, I have demonstrated implicit connections in their respective assumptions. The ontological, epistemological and methodical assumptions are all integral facets of the understanding of social research. Once these are understood one can then draw conclusions as to which type or types of methods are appropriate to use.

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