SURVEY– A SOCIOLOGICAL RESEARCH METHOD

Surveys are widely regarded as the most common quantitative research method used by sociologists.

In survey, the researcher collects data from a large group of people who respond to series of questions on behavior and other social phenomena such as culture, etc. 

Survey is usually in the form of questionnaires given to respondents. Surveys are a great way for getting to know how people feel and think.

Surveys, like almost all sociological research methods, target specific people called the population of interest.  The population of interest is people like high schoolers,  basketballers who are the focus of the study.

Studying every member of the population of interest is not always possible. Take, for example, the case of the basketballer. No researcher can study all the world's basketballers. So instead, the researcher studies a sample

A sample is a manageable representation of the population of interest. The sample of people surveyed is entirely chosen from the population of interest. 

The goal of a survey is to describe the population of interest through the sample. This generalizing ability is largely dependent on how well the population of interest is represented by the sample.

When the population of interest is not adequately represented by the sample, error, of course, will exist. One such error is selection bias.

Selection bias occurs when the methods used to select samples result in an over-representation or under-representation of a significant element of the population of interest.

If, for example, the population of interest consists of 60% female and 40% male. But the sample consists of 50% female and 50% male. Females are under-represented and males are over-represented. Consequently, this will lead to selection biases

One way sociologists now used to eliminate selection biases is the use of stratified random sampling.

In stratified random sampling, the population of interest is divided into sub-population called strata and random samples are drawn from this strata.

Surveys are very useful for gaining first-hand information. Respondents to a survey will convey personal thoughts about behavior, opinion, religion, and other sociological issues.

To ensure that respondents give honest answers, researchers should give respondents some level of anonymity. 

They are different ways of administering a survey. One of such is a face-to-face survey

A face-face survey is one in which the researcher engages in a one-on-one conversation with the subject. 

This kind of survey results in a high-response rate(which is necessary for generalizing the result). On the flip side, it is, however, time-consuming and expensive to run.

Because of the inherent drawbacks of face-to-face surveys, researchers now turn to telephone surveys. In telephone surveys, the computer randomly dialed the telephone(which means that the sample is randomly selected).

Although this kind of survey is relatively cheaper than a face-to-face survey, it is not the best choice for generalizing purposes. This is due to its low response rate as people can easily hang-up calls.

Another kind of survey still in use today is the mailed-survey, where the researcher mail the questionnaires to the respondent

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Mailed surveys are less time-consuming and inexpensive as compared to a face-to-face surveys.

On the bad side, a mailed survey has a low response rate because participants can easily mark the mail as spam even before reading them.

Because of these drawbacks of the above-listed form of surveys, the researcher is now turning to an internet survey. 

Internet surveys, targeted at a population of interest, are usually done on the web where questionnaires are uploaded by the researcher. 

Swagbucks provide a good example of a survey. One advantage of internet survey is that it is inexpensive.

On the flip side, it is difficult to generalize the result of the internet survey to the population of interest because not everyone has access to the internet.

Get a simplistic elucidation of the survey👇
 
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