We are a mixed-methods department, recognizing the wide variety of social research questions sociologists may pose and the different methods required to address those questions. The department has significant breadth and depth in methodological expertise and training.
Comparative-historical approaches in sociology are research methods to study social formation and transformation. Comparative studies examine and contrast social structures and processes across countries or regions to identify general patterns. Historical studies examine social processes over time, highlighting contexts and contingencies that influence specific changes while looking for general patterns. Both methods aim to understand complexities and identify causal mechanisms.
Digital sociology focuses on understanding the use of digital media as part of everyday life, and how these various technologies contribute to patterns of human behavior and social relationships. Varied approaches, both quantitative and qualitative, are used to investigate people’s use of digital media, including data scraping, time-series analysis, and textual analysis.
Experimental Research Design
Experiments, a common research approach in psychology, are increasingly used by sociologists to study human behavior. Viewed as the gold standard for identifying cause and effect, the key features of experimental research design include manipulation of some key independent variable (treatment) and controlled testing.
Qualitative researchers collect and work with non-numerical data, seeking to find meaning and interpretation that shed light on social life. Qualitative research is often focused on the micro-level of social interaction and includes techniques such as ethnography, focus groups, interviews, observations, and content analysis.
Quantitative researchers apply a variety of statistical techniques to quantitative forms of data, often gathered by nationally representative surveys administered to large numbers of respondents. Other forms of secondary data such as census data, government statistics or health system data are also used in quantitative analysis. Rutgers Sociology faculty have expertise in a variety of quantitative analytic techniques, including survey analysis, event history analysis, hierarchical linear modelling, categorical data analysis, and age-period-cohort analysis among others.
Courses: Sociology 541 (Statistical Methods in Sociology I); Sociology 542 (Statistical Methods in Sociology II); Sociology 570 (Multilevel and Longitudinal Data Analysis), Sociology 576 (Computational Sociology)
Social Network Analysis
Social network analysis adopts a relational approach to the study of social life. It uses networks and graph theory to characterize structures in terms of nodes (individual actors within the network) and the ties, edges, or links (relationships or interactions) that connect them.
Courses: Sociology 570 (Network Analysis)