Research Methods in Sociology and Cultural Anthropology

Research Methods in Sociology and Cultural Anthropology

These studies that span over a period Of years to decades, have the capability to allow collection of a large amount of data over time. Having this additional data can help prove or disprove hypothesis related to changes in the data over time. In Cross Sectional Studies, scientists study a group of individuals with similar traits or characteristics in one observation, at a single time. This method provides immediate data to analyze. The downside of a Cross Sectional Study is that there is not much data collected that can show cause ND effect.

Longitudinal Studies are a form of observational study, where no manipulation of the study or subjects takes place. There are both positives and negatives to the Longitudinal Study. One of the positives, as mentioned earlier, is the stud’s ability to collect large amounts of data. This data can be used to prove or disprove a hypothesis related to change over time. For example, the longest running longitudinal study is Tartan’s little geniuses, this study has spanned well over 75 years. IN 1921 , Dry. Lewis M. Terrain, a Stanford university psychologist and a pioneer of the I. Q. Test, scoured

Californians schools to identify 1 ,521 children who scored 135 or over on his new intelligence test, the Stanford-Bines. Additional interviews were conducted every 5 to 10 years on each of the study participants. Over the years more than 100 scientific articles and almost a dozen books have been based on the Terrain data. (Coleman) It was not the initial purpose of the study to produce so much research for review, but due to the length of time allowed for data collection, researchers were able to deduce the information. Cultural Anthropology is another form of Social Science that looks at the ultra influences in a population.

Up until the 20th century the studies were largely focused on primitive cultures in non-westernizes civilizations. Focusing on human natures more primal instincts and how they ultimately effect the groups, or community culture. Two research methods utilized in Cultural Anthropology are Participant Observation and Interviews or Questionnaires. Unlike other forms Of research, in participant observation, the researcher can interact with the participants. They may choose immerse themselves into the culture in addition to only observing, in order to gain port and provide a better understanding.

When administering interviews or questionnaires, an informal interview approach is preferred. Oftentimes allowing an open dialogue where conversation can continue back and forth, will provide more information than the black and white answers of a questionnaire. When performing interviews or providing a questionnaire to subjects, information can oftentimes be one-sided. This methodology has limited data collection ability, in that answers are typically in response to close ended questions and do not allow the participant to elaborate.

The data elected by interviews can be more informative by allowing the interviewers to ask open ended questions and ask the subject to elaborate on specific answers. Each of these methods has their strengths. In Cultural Anthropology, the focus is to understand the subjects completely; to determine what drives the culture of the group. When researchers are allowed to immerse themselves in the culture of that group, they gain additional understanding and insight. By following the steps of participant observation the researcher can establish a rapport with the population and gain additional information through trust.

Additionally, the researcher will experience the groups’ way of life which will also add to further understanding. There are several steps to participant observation after you have established rapport within the group, second you “do as they do”. Simply put, you try to live as the group you are observing is living; learn customs, rituals and routines. During this process continue to make observations and record them. The observations you record are then analyzed at the end of the study. One important step for the researcher is to determine the level of immersion.

If the researcher immerses themselves too deeply objectivity could be lost and the study results could be biased or skewed. Participant Observation is the primary mode Of study in Cultural Anthropology due to its ability to provide a large amount of data, show cause and effect and generally be unbiased. Longitudinal Studies in Sociology and Participant Observation in Cultural Anthropology have their similarities. Both studies are a form of qualitative research. Qualitative research involves the researcher designing the study, then collecting and analyzing the data.

Continuity in the researcher is important to the study as there is a relationship established between them and the study participants. In Tartan’s Study, three generations of researchers have managed the study participants in 75 years. Each director has established themselves with the participants and continued the focus of the research. In observational studies, especially those in which the researcher practices immersion, continuity is crucial to the rapport established within the group. That researcher or group Of researchers, are collecting data based on their experiences while living within the group.

If a researcher only stayed a day or two before trading off with someone else, they would not have time to develop that relationship and could possibly miss collecting valuable data. Contrastingly, each of these methods of research are used differently. When used in Sociology the focus is that of social interactions between groups or within groups of people. How do people interact with each other, what causes them to act the way that they do? In Cultural Anthropology the culture itself is studied. The deep underlying motives for rituals, community hierarchies and beliefs.

In a longitudinal study, he researchers follow the participants through their lifetimes, they do not integrate into their life, they do not try to immerse themselves. They simply observe, periodically checking in on the subject at intervals determined to produce an additional data set. For Sociology, perhaps that interval is In childhood, adolescence and each phase of adulthood. Perhaps the observations being made are in relation to social development of a male child raised by a single mom? Does the boy have aggressive tendencies, seek male influence, and have difficulty with relationships?

All of this information can be elected throughout the length of the study and deductions can be made from the data. The researcher does not insert themselves into the boys life. They merely make observations. They do not directly interfere with the boys development or environment. In an observational study, that’s exactly what the researcher must do. They must essentially infiltrate the cultural group in which they choose to study. The researcher still must be mindful to not directly interfere, but allowing some immersion will aid in the researchers ability to understand and subsequently interpret the data collected.

Each teeth works as it is intended; each method of observation are frequently used in all areas of research and can be applied in many different ways. As mentioned previously, one single study has managed to produce over 100 separate pieces of work. Many methods of data collection seemingly overlap and it’s up to the researchers in these studies to be aware of the parameters and Stay within the boundaries Of the study. Doing so will create more factual data to interpret and allow the observations to be recreated, tested and proven.

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