What happens if we take three topics which are significant across the social sciences, and ask researchers of very different methodological and disciplinary persuasions to explain how they have researched them? Understanding Social Research does exactly this, and in the process it elaborates a wide and exciting range of up-to-the minute approaches to research that will be invaluable to students and researchers in the social sciences and related disciplines.
The book explores methodological approaches in three key areas - personal life and relationships; places and mobilities, and socio-cultural change. These work as vehicles to expound methodological issues and challenges that are relevant across a much wider range of domains.
Understanding Social Research brings together leading researchers in the social sciences – including sociology, health, geography, psychology and social statistics - to elaborate their approach to research design and practice, based on their own research experience, and to consider what kinds of knowledge their methods can produce. Each of the contributing authors reflects on their own methods and identifies what is distinctive about them. The book contains fascinating insights into how the knowledge we produce is shaped by the methods we choose and use.
The editors draw methodological issues and concerns that underlie the contributing chapters into creative tension, and consider what we can learn about method, knowledge and epistemology by examining the essence of different approaches when they are applied in real life research. They explore, for example, how the kinds of aims we have for the production of knowledge, and the realities of our everyday research practices, relate to the claims we can make on the basis of our research, and the forms of argument or theories we are able to construct. They consider the implications of this for what we can (and can't) say about the phenomena we investigate, for the methods that we choose and use, and for what is involved in mixing methods.
Understanding Social Research will be useful to students and researchers in the social sciences who want to understand a creative range of approaches to research, and the consequences of making particular methodological choices. It will provide both inspiration and a firm background understanding so that researchers have the confidence and enthusiasm to try out methods and approaches that are not only within but also outside their own comfort zone.