Essay on the Meaning and Definition of Social Research

Research today has become a part of sociology. Research in sociology is where the real action takes place.

In fact, there are two sides to the sociological enterprise: theory and research. Both are essential, and each depends on the other and each hinges on the other. Facts without theory are utterly meaningless.

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Theories without facts are unproved speculations of little use to anybody, be­cause there is no way to tell whether they are correct. Theory and research thus go together. A theory inspires research that can be used to verify or disprove it, and the findings of research are used to confirm, reject or modify the theory, or even to provide the basis of new theories. This process recurs endlessly.

Definition of Social Research:

1. According to Pauline V.Young, “… social research is a systematic method of exploring, analysing and conceptualising social life in order to “extend, correct, or verify knowledge, whether that knowledge aids in the construction of a theory or in the practice of an art.”

2. Stating it still differently, social research seeks to find explanations to unexplained social phenomena to clarify the doubtful and correct the misconceived fact of social life.

3. Pauline V. Young has also said that “social research may be defined as a scientific undertak­ing which, by means of logical and systematised techniques aims to (I) discover new facts or verify and test old facts. (2) analyse their sequences, interrelationships, and causal explanations (5) develop new scientific tools, concepts and theories which would facilitate reliable and valid study of human behaviour”.

4. According to Wallace and Wallace, “Sociological research refers to the structural observa­tion of social behaviour”.

Importance of Social Research:

Research is carried on in the social field not just with academic interests. It has both academic and non-academic purposes and importance. Importance of research can be briefly stated here.

1. Research is essential to diffuse knowledge and to expand its horizon.

3. Research provides practical clues, to undertake measures that lead to social improvement, social change and social progress.

4. Research by probing into the perplexing problems of the day… provides new insight re­garding their nature. Research helps us to know the nature and the magnitude of the problems.

5. Researchers have commercial importance also. Industries, business firms and commercial establishments can get lot of information and clues about their endeavors in society.

6. Research can provide all the required data and facts to the administrators to adopt and undertake appropriate policies, plans and programmes.

7. Research has educational importance. It is mainly an intellectual activity. Information ob­tained through research may have their educational importance.

8. Research motivates interdisciplinary studies. It stresses the interdependence of different sci­ences. It thus strengthens the “interdisciplinary approach” which is emerging out these days.

9. Other uses and Importance

(i) Those working in the academic field can obtain a new degree known as Ph.D. [Doctor of Philosophy] by successfully carrying out research as per the stipulated rules.

(ii) Those working in the research department attached to industries, other types of establish­ments have made research their profession and obtain salary for their service. It provides job opportunities for a few intellectuals.

(iii) For the philosophers and scientists research can be intellectually delighting and mentally satisfying, and

(iv) Those who are in the field of literature, art, architecture, etc., can seek to establish new styles and trends through research.

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