Self improvementPsychology

Social studies. Methods of social research

In the world there are many different concepts that it is not so easy to deal with. In this article, we will talk about what social studies are, what they differ from sociological studies, and also what basic methods are used.

About terminology

In this case, the question of terms is quite acute. After all, many even professional companies often do not distinguish between such concepts as sociological and social studies. And this is wrong. There are differences. And they are very significant.

First of all, it must be understood that sociology itself as a science studies the whole of society as a whole, its various connections and nuances. The social sphere is a certain part of the activity of society. That is, if we make a preliminary simple conclusion, then sociological research can be directed entirely at the social sphere.

What is the difference?

What exactly is the difference between sociological and social studies?

  1. Social research is aimed exclusively at a clear, limited social sphere.
  2. Sociological research has a lot of specific methods, the social one, more often than not. Although it must be said that the category of research we are considering mainly uses sociological methods.
  3. Social studies can be carried out not only by sociologists, but also by physicians, lawyers, personnel officers, journalists, etc.

However, it is nevertheless worthwhile to clarify that the question of more precise differences between social and sociological research has not yet been finally decided. Modern scientists are still arguing about a number of secondary, but still fundamental points.

Object and subject

The subject of social research can be completely different. And it depends on the chosen topic. Objects most often become (in the opinion of the scientist VA Lukov):

  • Social processes and institutions.
  • Social communities.
  • Social values, concepts and ideas.
  • Normative acts that somehow affect social change.
  • Social projects, etc.

Functions of social research

Social research performs the following functions:

  1. Diagnostics. That is, social research is aimed at understanding the state of the object at the time of the study.
  2. Reliability of information. That is, all the information that is collected during the research should be reliable. In case of distortion, corrections must necessarily be made.
  3. Forecasting. The results of the research make it possible to create short and long-term forecasts and outline possible prospects.
  4. Design. That is, according to the results of the study, it is also possible to give various recommendations regarding possible changes in the chosen study area.
  5. Informing. The results of social research should be made public. They are also obliged to provide some information to people, to explain those or other points.
  6. Activation. Due to the results of social research, it is possible to intensify or provoke a more active work of various social services, as well as public organizations, regarding the solution of various problems of the research object.

Basic Types

What are the main types of social research?

  • Academic research.
  • Applied research.

If we talk about the first type, then this research is aimed at replenishing the theoretical base, that is, strengthening knowledge in a certain, chosen field. Applied research is aimed at analyzing a certain segment of the social sphere of society.

Applied research

It is worth noting that there is such a thing as applied social research. It is a complex of different methods and theories that help to analyze social problems. Their main goal in this case is to obtain the desired results for their subsequent use for the benefit of society. At the same time, these methods have arisen on the territory of our state for a long time. The first attempts at social research in Russia are censuses of the population. They have been held quite regularly since the 18th century. The initial boom of these studies began in the post-revolutionary period (this is the study of P. Sorokin family-marital relations, D. Lass - the sexual sphere of life of youth, etc.). Today, these social studies occupy a significant place among other different types of study of society.

Basic Methods

What are the main methods of social research? So, it is worth noting that they should not be confused with sociological methods. Although in some aspects there are still certain coincidences. The most commonly used methods are:

  • Modeling.
  • Evaluation.
  • Diagnostics.
  • Expertise.

There is also the concept of participatory and stockinist social studies. Let's consider each method in more detail.


Modern social studies often use such a method as modeling. What does he represent? So, this is a special design tool. It is important to note that this method has been widely used in antiquity and is still used today. The model itself is an object that, according to the ideas, replaces the real object, the original. The study of this particular object makes it possible to more accurately and deeply understand the main problems of the real object. That is, in this case the study is conducted from the reverse. The model itself performs the following three functions:

  1. Prognostic. In this case, we are talking about some kind of prediction of what can happen in the future with the object of social research.
  2. Imitation. In this case, attention is focused on the newly created model, which makes it possible to better understand the original study itself.
  3. Projective. In this case, certain functions or predetermined properties are projected into the research object, which improves the quality of the results obtained.

It is also important to note that the modeling process itself necessarily includes the construction of necessary abstractions, the creation of inferences, and the construction of various kinds of scientific hypotheses.


We consider further various methods of social research. What is diagnostics? So, this is a method by which it is possible to establish the correspondence of various parameters of social reality to existing norms and indicators. That is, this method is designed to measure different characteristics of the chosen social object of research. For this, a special system of social indicators is applied (these are special characteristics of individual properties, as well as the states of social objects).

It is worth noting that most often the method of social diagnosis is found in the study of the quality of life of people or social inequality. The following stages of the diagnostic method are distinguished:

  1. Comparison. It can be performed with previously conducted studies, obtained results, set goals.
  2. Analysis of all received changes.
  3. Interpretation.

Social expertise

If socio-economic studies are carried out, it is often their expertise that is the main method. It includes the following major steps and steps:

  1. Diagnosis of the state of a social object.
  2. Obtaining information about the research object, as well as its surroundings.
  3. Predicting subsequent changes.
  4. Development of recommendations for subsequent decision-making.

Action research

Research in social work can also be action-oriented. What does this mean? To understand the essence, it is necessary to understand that this word is Anglicism. In the original, this term sounds like an action research, i.e. "research-action" (from English). The term itself was proposed for use in the distant 1944 by scientist Kurt Levin. In this case, the study assumes a real change in the social reality of the object under study. And already on the basis of this, certain conclusions are made, recommendations are given.

Participatory research

This term is also English. Participant in translation means "participant". That is, this is a special reflexive way of research, during which the object of research is endowed with the ability and power to make the necessary decisions for oneself. In this case, the objects themselves carry out the main work. The role of the researcher is reduced to the observation and recording of various results. Based on this, certain conclusions are drawn, recommendations are given.

Psychological research

There is also a psychological social study. In this case, all the same methods described above are used. But others can be used. So, various administrative and educational methods of research are often used.

  1. Widely used in this case polls (a person should answer a number of questions asked to him). In social psychology, the most frequently used questionnaire or method of interview.
  2. Psychological social research also often uses this method of obtaining information from an object, as a test. It can be both personal and group. However, it should be noted that this method of research is not strictly social or psychological. It can also be used in sociological research.
  3. Another important method of research in social psychology is an experiment. In the course of this method, a necessary situation is artificially created, in which certain behavioral reactions or other important nuances of the personality are studied.

Socio-economic research

Separately, we also need to consider and understand what the socio-economic research is. Their goal is the following:

  1. Study of economic processes.
  2. Identification of the most important for the social sphere regularities.
  3. The influence of economic processes on the vital activity of the object of research.
  4. Identify the causes of social change in relation to certain economic processes.
  5. And, of course, forecasting.

The study of socio-economic processes can be conducted by any of the methods described above. They are used extremely widely, because the social sphere of life is very closely connected with the economic one.

Socio-political research

Social political studies are also often carried out. Their main goal is as follows:

  • Evaluation of the work of local and central government.
  • Evaluation of electoral moods of people.
  • Identify the needs of different population groups.
  • Forecasting.
  • Determination of socio-political and socio-economic problems of the object of research.
  • Studies of the level of social tension of the research object.

It is worth noting that these studies are most often conducted in the period before the election. In doing so, they use all the above methods. But at the same time, analysis and comparative analysis are widely used (some other methods of social research).

Organization of the study

The study of social processes is a very labor-intensive activity. After all, you need to prepare a program for this, where all the basic information will be written. So, this document should contain:

  1. Information about the object and the subject of the study.
  2. It is very important to choose the method of research beforehand.
  3. Initially, presumptive hypotheses are also prescribed. That is what, according to preliminary data, should be the result.

Research Strategy

Any study of a social problem involves a stage such as a research strategy. Preliminary, it must also be said that any research can be a continuation of the previous one, or it may involve the parallel conduct of other actions aimed at obtaining information or changing the social reality of the selected object. This strategy includes the following key points:

  • Setting goals and questions (why this study is necessary, what you want to get as a result, etc.).
  • Consideration of various theoretical models and approaches.
  • It is necessary to study the resources (funds and time for the implementation of the plan).
  • Data collection.
  • The choice of the place of research, i.e. the identification of data.
  • The choice of the management process of the research itself.

The types of research in this case can be completely different. So, it can be a pilot study, when the subject is poorly understood and almost incomprehensible. There is a one-time study (when the object is no longer returned) or repeated. Longitudinal, or monitoring, research suggests that the object is studied periodically, at regular intervals.

Field research is conducted in the usual conditions for the facility. Laboratory - in artificially created. Empirical research is based on the actions or actions of the object, theoretical - it involves studying the alleged actions or behavioral reactions of the object of social research.

Then follows the choice of the method of investigation (most of them are described above). It should be noted that these are the most important forms of collecting primary information, so that you can get certain results and draw some conclusions. It is important to determine in advance and with the method of processing the information received. It can be statistical, genetic, historical or experimental analysis, social modeling, and so on.

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