Chapter 17: Research Methods in the Real World

Learning Objectives

  • Identify the areas outside of academia where sociologists are most commonly employed.
  • Define evaluation research and provide an example.
  • Define and provide at least one example of action research.
  • Define stakeholders.
  • Describe what is meant by public sociology.
  • Define transferable skills and identify several of the transferable skills you have gained from your understanding of sociological research methods.

The examples of sociological research provided throughout this text come from a variety of positions on the basic-public-applied continuum. Some examples came from scholarly, peer-reviewed journal articles, others from public-interest magazines, and others from applied settings. Nevertheless, students sometimes walk away from a research course wondering how any of what they have learned applies to their lives today and to their future plans. In the final sections of this text, we explore that question.

Specifically, we will consider the variety of locations where research might crop up in your “real- world” life. For some, research might be a career. For others, perhaps research will provide a means to become engaged in social change efforts. All of us hope that public sociology will present itself from time to time, perhaps in our reading, our web surfing, our television viewing, or our conversations with others. At the end of this chapter, we will remind ourselves of some of the answers to the “why should I care” question that we addressed at the beginning of this text. We hope that by now you have your own ideas about how you might answer that question but we will nevertheless remind you of the answers that we have already covered and provide a few others that perhaps had not occurred to you.