Methods

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

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.

Affiliated Faculty: Borocz, Brooks, Brechin, Clarke, Dinzey-Flores, Friedman, Gerson, Lee, McLean, Salime

Courses: Sociology 520 (Historical/Comparative Methods)

 

Digital Sociology

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.

Affiliated Faculty: Cerulo, Jones, Kempner

 

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.

Affiliated Faculty: Hirschfield, Mai, Shepherd, Springer

Courses: Sociology 571 (Biosocial Experiments)Biosocial Experiments)

 

Qualitative Methods

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.

Affiliated Faculty: Borocz, Brechin, Carr, Cerulo, Chaudhary, Clarke, Dinzey-Flores, Friedman, Gerson, Hirschfield, Jones, Kempner, MacKendrick, McLean, Salime, Shepherd, Stein

Courses: Sociology 615 (Qualitative Methods); Sociology 573 (Ethnography); Sociology 571/512 (Narratives); WGS 603 (Feminist Knowledge Production)

 

Quantitative Methods

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.

Affiliated Faculty: Bzostek, Chaudhary, Hirschfield, Krivo, Lei, Mai, McLean, Phillips, Roos, Shepherd, Springer, Smith

Courses: Sociology 541 (Statistical Methods in Sociology I); Sociology 542 (Statistical Methods in Sociology II); Sociology 570 (Multilevel and Longitudinal Data Analysis)

 

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.

Affiliated Faculty: Clarke, Jones, McLean, Shepherd

Courses: Sociology 570 (Network Analysis)