Chapter 17: Research Methods in the Real World

17.4 Understanding Yourself, Your Circumstances, and Your World

Perhaps the most rewarding consequence of understanding social scientific research methods is the ability to gain a better understanding of yourself, your circumstances, and your world. Through the application of social scientific research methods, sociologists have asked and answered many of the world’s most pressing questions. Certainly, those answers are not always complete, nor are they infallible, but the quest for knowledge and understanding is an ongoing process. As social scientists continue the process of asking questions and seeking answers, perhaps you will choose to participate in that quest now that you have gained some knowledge and skill in how to conduct research.

Having thought about what you know and how you know it, as well as what others claim to know and how they know it, we hope will provide you with some clarity in an often murky world. Whether you choose to adopt the particular ways of knowing described in this text as your preferred ways of knowing is totally up to you. We hope that you will find that the knowledge you have gained here is of use, perhaps in your personal life and interests, your relationships with others, or your longer-range school or career goals.


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