This includes, from census data on hundreds of thousands of human beings, through the in-depth analysis of a life of a single important person to monitoring what is happening on a streets today and in the medical institutions, or what was happening few hundreds years ago.
Many different methods are employed in order to describe, explore and understand social life. Social methods can generally be subdivided into two broad categories. Quantitative methods are concerned with attempts to quantify social phenomena and collect and analyses numerical data, and focus on the links among a smaller number of attributes across many cases. Qualitative methods, on the other hand, emphasize personal experiences and interpretation over quantification, are more concerned with understanding the meaning of social phenomena and focus on links among a larger number of attributes across relatively few cases.
Social research (and social science in general) is based on logic and empirical observations. Charles C. Ragin writes in his Constructing Social Research book "Social research involved the interaction between ideas and evidence. Ideas help social researchers make sense of evidence, and researchers use evidence to extend, revise and test ideas". Social research thus attempts to create or validate theories through data collection and data analysis, and its goal is exploration, description and explanation. It should never lead or be mistaken with philosophy or belief.
Social research aims to find social patterns of regularity in social life and usually deals with social groups (aggregates of individuals), not individuals themselves (although science of psychology is an exception here). Research can also be divided into pure research and applied research. Pure research has no application on real life, whereas applied research attempts to influence the real world.
Types of explanations
Explanations in social theories can be idiographic or nomothetic. An idiographic approach to an explanation is one where the scientists seek to exhaust the idiosyncratic causes of a particular condition or event, i.e. by trying to provide all possible explanations of a particular case.
Nomothetic explanations tend to be more general with scientists trying to identify a few causal factors that impact a wide class of conditions or events. For example, when dealing with the problem of how people choose a job, idiographic explanation would be to list all possible reasons why a given person (or group) chooses a given job, while nomothetic explanation would try to find factors that determine why job applicants in general choose a given job.
Relationship between Quantitative and Qualitative Research.
An examination of the quantitative and qualitative paradigms will help to identify their strengths and weaknesses and how their divergent approaches can complement each other. In most cases, researchers fall into one of the two camps--either relying exclusively upon "objective" survey questionnaires and statistical analyses and eschewing warm and fuzzy qualitative methods, or using only qualitative methodologies, rejecting the quantitative approach as decontextualizing human behavior. However, social marketing researchers recognize that each approach has positive attributes, and that combining