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Constructing Social Research

Constructing Social Research
The Unity and Diversity of Method

Third Edition

April 2018 | 232 pages | SAGE Publications, Inc

The updated Third Edition of this innovative text shows the unity within the diversity of activities called social research to help students understand how all social researchers construct representations of social life using theories, systematic data collection, and careful examination of that data. The book tackles questions like "What is social research?", "How does it differ from journalism, documentary film-making, or laboratory research in the natural sciences?", and "What is the researcher's obligation to those he or she is studying?"

Updated throughout with new references and examples, this edition is designed to evoke challenging questions regarding the nature of representation and the ethical challenges facing social scientific researchers. The text moves beyond standard research challenges to push readers to see the complex relationships among ethics, ideas, evidence, and outcomes.

CHAPTER 1: What Is (and Is Not) Social Research?

Some Conventional Views of Social Research

Social Research and Other Ways of Representing Social Life

How Social Research Differs


CHAPTER 2: The Goals of Social Research

Seven Main Goals

The Link Between Goals and Strategies

The Social Nature of Social Research

CHAPTER 3: The Process of Social Research: Ideas and Evidence

The Interpretive Model of Social Research

Processes and Strategies of Social Research

The Challenge of Social Research

CHAPTER 4: The Ethics of Social Research


Ethical Dilemmas and Failures

The Troubled History of Ethical Research

The Current Ethical Standards and Institutional Oversight

Ethical and Professional Dilemmas Facing Social Researchers

The Problem of Representation


CHAPTER 5: Using Qualitative Methods to Study Commonalities

The Goals of Qualitative Research

The Process of Qualitative Research

Using Qualitative Methods

The Study of a Single Case

CHAPTER 6: Using Comparative Methods to Study Diversity

Contrasts With Other Research Strategies

The Goals of Comparative Research

The Process of Comparative Research

Using Comparative Methods


CHAPTER 7: Using Quantitative Methods to Study Covariation

The Goals of Quantitative Research

Contrasts With Other Research Strategies

The Process of Quantitative Research

Using Quantitative Methods


Afterword: The Promise of Social Research With Mary Driscoll
Appendix: Computing Correlation Coefficients
About the Authors

Treats research appropriately as an epistemological action of queries and interplay between induction and deduction. Other research textbooks tend to exclusively focus on the mechanics of the research process.

The authors' approach is helpful for students new to research and analysis. It allows me, within 4 months, to take students with no knowledge of sociological studies other than a cursory description of findings in an introductory class to a mastery level where they are able to conduct and write up an an original study.

Best book ever!

Darby Southgate
Sociology Dept, Los Angeles Valley College
February 8, 2024

The text is well written an researched.

Dr Joseph Adamo
Business Administration Dept, Cazenovia College
September 28, 2018
Key features


  • The book has been updated to reflect current research designs and the latest regulations regarding human subjects.
  • Research examples throughout have been updated and are drawn more broadly from across the social science disciplines.
  • A total of 23 new citations reflect the latest research and thinking in the field, on subjects such as mass incarceration in the U.S., sexual orientation and intersexuality, migrant workers in South Africa, slaughterhouse workers in the American South, and peasant societies in post-colonial Southeast Asia.
  • The book emphasizes that the three traditions of social research—qualitative research on commonalities, comparative research on diversity, and quantitative research on relationships among variables—are not rigid divisions to help students understand that research designs often blend aspects of each tradition in creative ways.
  • The model of social research put forth is not as restrictive as the scientific method and encompasses social research ranging from research examining the complexities of everyday life to research investigating the power of transnational processes.
  • The authors present complex ideas in a brief and easy-to-understand fashion.

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