Methods and Techniques in Social Research

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Course TypeCourse CodeNo. Of Credits
Foundation CoreSLS3SC3024

Semester and Year Offered: Monsoon Semester 2018

Course Coordinator and Team:RinjuRasaily

Email of course coordinator:

:There are no pre-requisites, however, it will be important that the research scholars are exposed to some very important social research concepts and categories and basic knowledge of research and computer skills.

Aim: The Methods and Techniques in Social Research course offers research scholars the practical and analytical skills to embark on their own research projects, while helping them prepare research projects that are feasible and attractive. Apart from introducing students to the rigor of the disciplines of Sociology and Social Anthropology, the course will engage with questions such as: what might be the particular political, ethical and methodological challenges of doing fieldwork.The aim of this course is to also provide hands on training to research scholars to learn and administer the use of quantitative data.

This course begins with interrogating the conventional notions on scientific inquiry, and introduces the scholars to the politics and problematic of scientific knowledge production. It puts into question the standardized notions of objectivity, reliability, validity and invites the scholars to explore social science research as a subjective intellectual journey, rather than an objective, disinterested search for the ultimate truth. The course also exposes the scholars to a varieties of techniques of scientific inquiry and interpretation.

Course Outcomes:The primary objective of this course is to address issues, concerns, challenges and anxieties that research scholars might face, during the course of their research, particularly addressing the problems and prospects of doing field-based research. At the end of the course, the research scholars should be able to:

  1. have an understating of some theoretical and practical knowledge of key qualitative and quantitative research methods.
  2. have knowledge of how to design research methods which are attentive to particular social, political, and institutional contexts, as well as considerate of the ethics and social science research consequences.
  3. Enhance analytical and writing skills

Brief description of modules/ Main modules:

Module- 1:Idea of Method in Scientific Inquiry: In this module the students will peep into some of the major debates on Scientific Inquiry and Some of the philosophical issues and concerns of ‘knowing the social world’. What constitutes a Scientific Inquiry? What is scientific knowledge? How such knowledge is produced? Can there a method to scientific knowledge generation.

Readings List

Bloor D. 1976. Knowledge and Social Imagery, London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, P- 48-70

Feyeraband P. [1975] 1993. Against Method: Outline of an Anarchist Theory of Knowledge, New York: Verso, p 09-53.

Popper, K. [1935] 2002. The Logic of Scientific Discovery, New York: Routlage Classic, p-03-34.

Popper, K. [1935] 2002. The Logic of Social Sciences, in Theodor Adorno, et. al 1977, The Positivist Dispute in German Sociology, London: Heinmann. P- 87-104.

Adorno, T. 1977, On the Logic of Social Sciences, in Theodor Adorno, et. al 1977, The Positivist Dispute in German Sociology, London: Heinmann. P- 105-122.

Rosenberg, A. 2008. Philosophy of Social Sciences, Philadelphia: Westview Press, p-01-30.

Williams, M. And May, T. 1996. Introduction to the Philosophy of Social Sciences, London: UCL Press, p- 69-106.

Module-2:Positivism, Empiricism and Scientific Knowledge: In this module the students will discuss the prospects, problems and politics of generating a positivist empirical knowledge. The aim is to historically locate and understand the advocacy and critique of positivist and empirical knowledge.

Readings List.

Adorno, T. 1977, Sociology and Empirical Research, in Theodor Adorno, et. al 1977, The Positivist Dispute in German Sociology, London: Heinmann. P- 68-86.

Habermas, J. 1977, Apositicistically Bisected Rationalism, The Logic of Social Sciences, in Theodor Adorno, et. al 1977, The Positivist Dispute in German Sociology, London: Heinmann. P- 198-225.

Habermas, J. Knowledge and Human Interest, Boston: Beacon Press, Page- 301-350 (Appendix).

Foucault, M. 2004, Archaeology of Knowledge, London: Routlege, P- 136-152.

Module- 3:Interrogating Objectivity, Reliability and Validity: In this module, the students will debate on the measures of scientific inquiry, such as, objectivity, validity and reliability.

Readings List

Ringer, F. 1997. Weber’s Methodology: The Unification of Cultural and Social Sciences, London: Harvard University Press, p- 63- 91, 122-149.

Harding, S.1987. Feminism and Methodology, Bloomington: Indiana University Press. p-1-14, 84-96.

Ramazanogulu, C. and Holland, J. 2002. Feminist Methodology, New Delhi: Sage Publications, p-60-83.

Module- 4:Sources and Collection of Data: In this module the students will be introduced to various sources of Data like introduction to census, NSSO, NFHS and other secondary data sources, ILO, WHO, UN, World Bank etc. Sampling and Preparation of tools (questionnaire, interview schedule, interview guide, and checklist) would be also covered in this module. The challenges involved in the processes of identifying and collecting Data would be also introduced. The students will debate on the complex and dialectical relationships that exist between the ‘researchers’ with that of Data. What constitutes Data? Do the Data have an independent existence, beyond the perception of the researcher? Whether empirical Data is free from theoretical conception? Is it the epitome of empirical reality?

Readings List

Babbie, E. 2007. Practice of Social Research, Belmont, Wadsworth

Bachelard, G. 2002. The formation of the Scientific Mind, Manchester: Clinamen Press, P- 185-250.

Bloor D. 1976. Knowledge and Social Imagery, London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, P- 01-44.

Giddens, A. 1987. Positivism and Sociology, London: Gower, P-03-87.

Module 5:Data Analysis and Basics of Statistics: In this module the students will learn some of the basic technique of analyzing quantitative and qualitative data. Basics of statistics, Measures of Central tendency: Measures of spread: Range, Quartile deviation, Mean deviation, Standard deviation, Co-efficient of variation, Other summarising measures, Probability and probability distribution: Sets and sample spaces, permutation and combinations, Basic rules of probability, discrete random variables and probability functions, Analysis of measurement: Estimation of means, Difference between means, Analysis of Variance. Descriptive and Inferential Statistics. However, the major thrust of this module will be on making the student aware of the seductive claim of authenticity of quantitative data.

Readings List

Babbie, E. 2007. Practice of Social Research, Belmont, Wadsworth, P- 393-462.

Perecman, E. and Curran, S.R. 2006. A Handbook of Social Science Field Research: Essays on Bibliographical Sources on Research Design and Methods, New Delhi: Sage, P- 117-139.

Cramer, D. 2003. Advanced Quantitative Data Analysis, Philadelphia: Open University Press, P-01-45.

Module-6:Getting to the Field: In this module, the students will read about the issues and challenges faced by the researcher in the field. It begins with the complex relationships between the researcher, the researched and the setting.

Burgress, R. G. 1984. In the Field: An Introduction to the Field Research, New York: Routledge.

Burgress, R. G. 1982. Field Research: A Sourcebook and Field Manual, London: Routledge

Module-7: Ethnography- The thick description: In this module the research scholars will be introduced to vast area of writings on Ethnography. This will be the module which introduce the students to the idea of ‘description’ as a mode of writing and knowing the field.

Emerson, R.M. et al. 1999. Writing Ethnographic Fieldnotes, London: Chicago University Press.

Clifford, J and Marcus, G.E. 1986. Writing Culture: On Poetics and Politics of Ethnography, London: University of California Press.

James, A. Et al. 1997. After Writing Culture: Epistemology and Praxis in Contemporary Anthropology, London: Routledge.

Whyte, W.F. 1995. The Street Corner Society: The Social Structure of an Italian Slum, Chicago: Chicago University Press.

Module-8: Interpretation and Analysis of Data: In this module the research scholars will be introduced to various forms of interpretation and analysis of both primary and secondary Data, for example, classification and coding of survey data, introduction and hands-on experience to excel with use of live data, introduction to SPSS/Stata,Basic principles of coding and analysis of ethnographic and qualitative data.

Goffman, E. 1961. Relations in Public: Microstudies in Public Order, New York: Basic Books.

Fairclough, N. 2003. Analysis Discourse: The Textual Analysis of Social Research, London: Routledge.

Rife, D. et al. 2008. Analyzing Media: Using Quantitative Content Analysis in Research, New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Publishers.

Philip, R. 1990. Basic Content Analysis: Sage University Papers Series, London: Sage Publications.

Assessment Details with weights:

  • Class participation – 20%
  • Short writing exercises - 20%
  • Research proposal - 30%
  • Classroom exercises – 30%

Reading List:

  1. Geertz, Clifford 2005. Deep Play: Notes on the Balinese Cockfight Daedalus,
  2. __________ 1998. Slide Show: Evans Pritchard’s African Transparencies, in Works and Lives: The Anthropologist as Author, Stanford University Press
  3. __________1998. The World in a Text: How to read “TristesTropiques”
  4. Paul Stoller and Cheryl Olkes The Taste of Ethnographic Things
  5. Steven Feld Dialogic Editing: Interpreting How Kaluli Read Sound and Sentiment
  6. Vincent Crapanzano ;” At the Heart of the Discipline”: Critical Reflections on Fieldwork All of the above in Robben and Sluka Ethnographic Fieldwork
  7. Cerwonka, Allaine and LiisaMalkki. 2007. Improvising Theory: Process and Temporality in Ethnographic Fieldwork. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press.
  8. Maxwell, Joseph. 2005. Qualitative Research Design: An Interactive Approach. Thousand Oaks: Sage.
  9. Maxwell, Joseph. Methods: What Will You Actually Do? (Chapter 5). In Qualitative ResearchDesign
  10. Emerson et al. 1995. In the Field: Participating, Observing and Jotting Notes (Chapter Two).
  11. Writing Ethnographic Fieldnotes. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press.
  12. Todd D. Little (2013), The Oxford Handbook of Quantitative Methods, Oxford University Press, London
  13. Holden, Constance (1979), Ethics in Social Science Research, Science, Vol. 206, No. 4418, pp. 537-538+540.
  14. Katju, Manjari (2011), Plagiarism and Social Sciences, EPW, Vol Xlvi no 9, pp, 45-48.


  1. Moore, David S (Ed) (2009), Introduction to the Practice of Statistics, W.H Freeman and Company, New York. (Select chapters)
  2. Utts, Jessica and Robert F. Heckard, (2012), Mind on Statistics, Brooks/Cole. Boston. (Select chapters)
  3. Getting Started in Data Analysis using Stata, Princeton University,
  4. Vijay Gupta (1999), SPSS for Beginners,
  5. Blalock, H M (1979), Social Statistics, International Student Edition, Mcgraw-Hill, Kogakusha Ltd., Tokyo.
  6. Cochran William G (1972), Sampling Techniques, Wiley Eastern University Edition