What is Social Research?

Definition of Social Research:

The term ‘social research’ has been defined by different scholars differently. The few definitions are as follows:

  • Prof. C.A. Moser defined it as “systematized investigation to give new knowledge about social phenomena and surveys, we call social research”.
  • Rummel defined it as “it is devoted to a study to mankind in his social environment and is concerned with improving his understanding of social orders, groups, institutes and ethics”.
  • M.H. Gopal defined it as “it is scientific analysis of the nature and trends of social phenomena of groups or in general of human behavior so as to formulate broad principles and scientific concepts”.
  • Mary Stevenson defined it as “social research is a systematic method of exploring, analyzing and conceptualizing social life in order to extend, correct or verify knowledge, whether that knowledge aid in the construction of a theory or in the practice of an art.

A broad comprehensive definition of social research has been given by P.V. Young which is as follows:

“Social Research may be defined as a scientific undertaking which by means of logical and systematized techniques, aims to discover new factor verify a test old facts, analyze their sequence, interrelationship and causal explanation which were derived within an appropriate theoretical frame of reference, develop new scientific tolls, concepts and theories which would facilities reliable and valid study of human behavior. A researcher’s primary goal distant and immediate is to explore and gain an understanding of human behavior and social life and thereby gain a greater control over time”.

Steps in Social Research:

Although different methods are used in social science research, the common goal of a social research is one the same, i.e. furthering our understanding of society and thus all share certain basic stages such as:

  1. Choosing the research problems and stating the hypothesis.
  2. Formulating the Research Design.
  3. Gathering the Data.
  4. Coding and Analysis the Data.
  5. Interpreting the results so as to test the hypothesis.

Each of these steps is dependent upon the others. The researcher needs to have adequate knowledge of the later stages before he undertakes research.

The research process is best conceived as circle. The researcher has to select suitable research design among different designs. Thereafter he has to collect the data (primary as well as secondary data). Once the data are collected those have to be coded and analyzed and finally the researcher in social science has to interpret the data so collected.

Objectives of Social Research:

Social Research is a scientific approach of adding to the knowledge about society and social phenomena. Knowledge to be meaningful should have a definite purpose and direction. The growth of knowledge is closely linked to the methods and approaches used in research investigation. Hence the social science research must be guided by certain laid down objectives enumerated below:

  • Development of Knowledge: As we know ‘science’ is the systematic body of knowledge which is recorded and preserved. The main object of any research is to add to the knowledge. As we have seen earlier, research is a process to obtain knowledge. Similarly social research is an organized and scientific effort to acquire further knowledge about the problem in question. Thus social science helps us to obtain and add to the knowledge of social phenomena. This is one of the most important objectives of social research.
  • Scientific Study of Social Life: Social research is an attempt to acquire knowledge about the social phenomena. Man being the part of a society, social research studies human being as an individual, human behavior and collects data about various aspects of the social life of man and formulates law in this regards. Once the law is formulated, then the scientific study tries to establish the interrelationship between these facts. Thus, the scientific study of social life is the base of the sociological development which is considered as the second best objective of social research.
  • Welfare of Humanity: The ultimate objective of the social science study is often and always to enhance the welfare of humanity. No scientific research makes only for the sake of study. The welfare of humanity is the most common objective in social science research.
  • Classification of facts: According to Prof. P.V.Young, social research aims to clarify facts. The classification of facts plays important role in any scientific research.
  • Social control and Prediction: “The ultimate object of many research undertaking is to make it possible, to redict the behavior of particular type of individuals under the specified conditions. In social research we generally study of the social phenomena, events and the factors that govern and guide them.”

In short, under social research we study social relation and their dynamics.

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