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Making Sense of the Social World

Making Sense of the Social World
Methods of Investigation

Sixth Edition
Experience with SAGE edge

© 2019 | 432 pages | SAGE Publications, Inc
Congratulations to Daniel F. Chambliss, winner of the ASA Distinguished Contribution to Teaching Prize for 2018.

The new Sixth Edition of Making Sense of the Social World continues to be an unusually accessible and student-friendly introduction to the variety of social research methods, guiding undergraduate readers to understand research in their roles as consumers and novice producers of social science. Known for its concise, casual, and clear writing, its balanced treatment of quantitative and qualitative approaches, and its integrated approach to the fundamentals, the text has much to offer both novice researchers and more advanced students alike. The authors use a wide variety of examples from formal studies and everyday experiences to illustrate important principles and techniques.

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Chapter 1. Science, Society, and Social Research
Learning About the Social World  
Can Social Scientists See the Social World More Clearly?  
How Well Have We Done Our Research?  
Key Terms  
Student Study Site  
Chapter 2. The Process and Problems of Social Research
What Is the Question?  
What Is the Theory?  
What Is the Strategy?  
What Is the Design?  
Key Terms  
Student Study Site  
Chapter 3. Ethics in Research
Historical Background  
Ethical Principles  
Key Terms  
Student Study Site  
Chapter 4. Conceptualization and Measurement
What Do We Have in Mind?  
How Will We Know When We’ve Found It?  
How Much Information Do We Really Have?  
Did We Measure What We Wanted to Measure?  
Key Terms  
Student Study Site  
Chapter 5. Sampling and Generalizability
How Do We Prepare to Sample?  
What Sampling Method Should We Use?  
Key Terms  
Student Study Site  
Chapter 6. Causation and Experimental Design
Causal Explanation  
What Causes What?  
Why Experiment?  
What If a True Experiment Isn’t Possible?  
What Are the Threats to Validity?  
How Do Experimenters Protect Their Subjects?  
Key Terms  
Student Study Site  
Chapter 7. Survey Research
Why Is Survey Research So Popular?  
How Should We Write Survey Questions?  
How Should Questionnaires Be Designed?  
What Are the Alternatives for Administering Surveys?  
A Comparison of Survey Designs  
Ethical Issues in Survey Research  
Key Terms  
Student Study Site  
Chapter 8. Elementary Quantitative Data Analysis
Why Do Statistics?  
How to Prepare Data for Analysis  
What Are the Options for Displaying Distributions?  
What Are the Options for Summarizing Distributions?  
How Can We Tell Whether Two Variables Are Related?  
Secondary Data Analysis  
Big Data  
Big Data, Big Ethics Issues  
Key Terms  
Student Study Site  
Chapter 9. Qualitative Methods: Observing, Participating, Listening
What Are Qualitative Methods?  
How Does Participant Observation Become a Research Method?  
How Do You Conduct Intensive Interviews?  
How Do You Run Focus Groups?  
Ethical Issues in Qualitative Research  
Key Terms  
Student Study Site  
Chapter 10. Qualitative Data Analysis
What Is Distinctive About Qualitative Data Analysis?  
What Techniques Do Qualitative Data Analysts Use?  
What Are Some Alternatives in Qualitative Data Analysis?  
Why Are Mixed Methods Helpful?  
How Can Computers Assist Qualitative Data Analysis?  
What Ethical Issues Arise in Doing Qualitative Data Analysis?  
Key Terms  
Student Study Site  
Chapter 11. Unobtrusive Measures
Creative Sources  
Content Analysis  
Historical Methods  
Comparative Methods  
Ethical Issues in Unobtrusive Methods  
Key Terms  
Student Study Site  
Chapter 12. Evaluation Research
What Is the History of Evaluation Research?  
What Is Evaluation Research?  
What Are the Alternatives in Evaluation Designs?  
What Can an Evaluation Study Focus On?  
Ethical Issues in Evaluation Research  
Key Terms  
Student Study Site  
Chapter 13. Reviewing, Proposing, and Reporting Research
Comparing Research Designs  
Reviewing Research  
Proposing New Research  
Reporting Research  
Key Terms  
Student Study Site  


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Key features


  • Failure (and success) of pre-election polls in the 2016 Presidential election 
  • The use and abuse of data from social media such as Facebook and Twitter
  • When does research on underprivileged populations become cultural appropriation? (based on the controversy over Alice Goffman’s ethnographic studies in Philadelphia)
  • The debate over inclusion of U.S. citizenship questions on the 2020 Census
  • The growth of new video techniques by researchers, and dramatically expanded use of web-based surveys (both by professionals and by students)
  • Addition of material on methods widely used by student researchers, such as content analysis and “grounded theory” ethnography 
  • New vignettes on Research That Matters, Research in the News, and Careers and Research, to enhance the relevance of the book to undergraduates



  • The authors’ concise, clear, and engaging discussions of substantial content make this a social research methods textbook that students actually like to read.
  • Illustrations and examples are taken from classical and contemporary studies that students will recognize from other classes, as well as cutting-edge social science on current events.
  • Wide-ranging examples with real data offer interesting and relevant real-world applications for students. 
  • Carefully-developed coverage of all essential elements of social research includes validity, causation, experimental and quasi-experimental design, and techniques of analysis.
  • Discussions of causation and experimental design are combined into a single chapter design to focus on the issues that are most often encountered during research in sociology, criminal justice, education, social work, communications, and political science.
  • Engaging end-of-chapter exercises are organized under the headings of “discussing,” “finding,” “critiquing,” and “doing,” and end with questions about ethics.
  • Additional coverage of research ethics includes a full chapter (Ch. 3) on the subject.

Sample Materials & Chapters

4. Conceptualization and Measurement

11. Unobtrusive Measures

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