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.