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Types of Sociological Analysis

Part of the Sociology For Dummies Cheat Sheet

There is no one correct way to look at society; to understand how society works, sociologists use a range of different approaches and techniques. These are five common approaches, and they are often used in combination with one another.

  • Quantitative analysis is the study of society using numbers and statistics: for example, considering people’s income (a number of dollars, say) in light of their education (a grade level, or a number of years).

  • Qualitative analysis is to study society by getting to know people and situations in detail, then describing them using words: for example, interviewing people about their experiences in the workplace and the labor market.

  • Macrosociological analysis is looking at the “big picture” that includes historical change over dozens or hundreds of years, the rise and fall of political systems or class hierarchies.

  • Microsociological analysis involves looking at the one-to-one interactions between individuals: for example, how people negotiate social situations like job interviews or personal confrontations.

  • Network analysis means examining the patterns of social ties among people in a group, and what those patterns mean for the group as a whole.

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