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Researching Social Life

ISBN 13: 9780803986824

Researching Social Life

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9780803986824: Researching Social Life
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This comprehensive and authoritative introductory student textbook covers the most widely used methods of social research, both quantitative and qualitative, emphasizing the connections between these forms of research and their theoretical underpinnings. The contributors draw from their own extensive research experience to illustrate the practical advice offered. A number of research projects are described in detail to illustrate methodological issues covered in the book.

Researching Social Life outlines the main ways in which data are gathered, collated, managed and analyzed. It describes a range of ways to analyze data, such as survey methods, ethnography, documentary research, the secondary analysis of survey data as well as discourse and conversation analysis. The links between data, critical understanding and theory are highlighted throughout and ideas for student projects are provided.

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Review:

`This is a very impressive book. It is admirably written in clear, straightforward language, so that I can easily imagine undergraduates responding well to its use as a core text.' - Geoff Payne, Professor of Social Research, University of Plymouth

`It is wide-ranging, up-to-date, authoritative and well written. It will become the standard textbook for undergraduate research methods in sociology' - Jon Gubbay, University of East Anglia

`This is a clearly written, straightforward piece of work which nicely combines informative chapters, projects for students and exemplars from real life research projects. The substance of the book, with each chapter written by a different author with appropriate experience, offers a readable and easily comprehensible introduction to all the major areas of social science research. The authors have expertly trodden the tightrope between giving the reader too much information and thus complicating subjects and giving too little and making the book superficial. A colleague suggested that the book answers all the questions which the average student is likely to ask. Clearly the teaching experience of the authors has been a major influence in the production of this volume.

The projects are all interesting and are all sufficiently flexible to allow any student to work on them in the context of their own interests. They can be carried out without the need for great investment in anything other than time and effort. They are both practical and practicable and most importantly they can be expected to introduce the practitioner to many of the issues and problems which are addressed in the text and which they will have to address in their future careers as social researchers.

The examination of these issues and problems is usefully demonstrated in the exemplars. As with the projects, these are varied and interesting. They have obviously been chosen to demonstrate different methods and areas of social research are are useful in demonstrating that everything does not always go according to plan, the ideal rarely exists.... I found it enjoyable and easy to read, even in those areas in which I am familiar and informative in those where I was not. This is a book to be highly recommended to the research community.' - ESRC Data Archive Bulletin

`This book has a number of strengths to recommend it to the newcomer to social research, its structure, content and style are all ideal for an introductory text. In its structure each section and chapter builds on its predecessors creating and impressive and cohesive guide. As for content, it comprehensively covers the wide range of research methods available and makes apparent the links between quantitative and qualitative methods, highlighting their strengths and weaknesses in various situations. Additionally, most of the chapters end with a project that can be carried out by the reader, allowing practice of the preceding theory. The book also includes many examples, drawn from actual research projects and the contributors' considerable and varied experiences, which help to bring the methods and issues alive to the reader. Most importantly the book uses clear everyday language, and avoids jargon, making it an ideal primer for those attempting social research for the first time... will prove an ideal text for undergraduates in a variety of disciplines who are taking research methods courses, as it provides both ideas for projects and references to more advanced texts. It can also be heartily recommended to health promoters who, faced with an increasing emphasis on the evaluation of initiatives and population needs assessment in their work, will find this book an invaluable resource.' - Health Promotion International

`The book by Gilbert does have some notable features. It provides some very detailed exemplars of research. It contains a chapter on gaining access to research settings (a practical matter of considerable importance, and one that typically is ignored in research texts); it offers some discussion of the use of computers in the analysis of data (an area that merits more attention...); and it provides considerable emphasis on different aspects of qualitative research methodology.' - Journal of Sociology and Social Welfare

`Provides an excellent introductory methods text that covers every stage of quantitative and qualitative research. The individual chapters are each written by experts in their respective fields, but there is a coherence in the text overall that is rarely apparent in edited collections. The language is always accessible, and at no point is the reader confronted by conceptual leaps without either signposts to other chapters, explanatory bridges to help one cross into the more sophisticated passage, or no-entry signs which suggest that a deeper understanding will only be gained on a more advanced course.... The book is superbly edited and has clearly benefited from the authors being colleagues.' - Journal of Social Policy

'This is an effective format: experts provide their specialized insights on each topic and their contributions are organized as chapters in a coherent text.

An additional advantage of this format is that the book presents itself more like a reader in social research methods than a standard methods textbook. Furthermore... the book is written in consistently simple and clear language.... the readability and clarity of the book should produce a favorable response from students.... an ideal primary text for an undergraduate course in social research methods. The book would be especially suitable for students at the junior or senior levels in sociology and other social science majors (e.g. social work, political science, health sciences). The book's focus on practical research skills is likely to be helpful to students who pursue other vocational paths that rely on social research.

The overall strength of this book lies in the author's commitment to a primary focus, practical social research skills. The expertise of the various authors provides innumerable insights on doing research that can further the development of students' own skills. While the book emphasizes the practical over the philosophical aspects of social research, the relative succinctness of its chapters allows instructors space to add their own philosophical perspectives on particular research methods issues.' - Teaching Sociology

About the Author:

Nigel Gilbert is Professor of Sociology at the University of Surrey, Guildford, England. He is the author or editor of 34 books and many academic papers and was the founding editor of the Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation. His current research focuses on the application of agent-based models to understanding social and economic phenomena, especially the emergence of norms, culture, and innovation. He obtained a doctorate in the sociology of scientific knowledge in 1974 from the University of Cambridge and has subsequently taught at the universities of York and Surrey in England. He is one of the pioneers in the field of social simulation and is past president of the European Social Simulation Association. He is a Fellow of the UK Academy of Social Sciences and of the Royal Academy of Engineering.

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ISBN 10: 141294662X ISBN 13: 9781412946629
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