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Sociological evidence falls into two main groups: Quantitative data produces a measurement of subjects’ characteristics and behavior, while qualitative research generates information on their meanings and practices.
This handout introduces you to the wonderful world of writing sociology.
Before you can write a clear and coherent sociology paper, you need a firm understanding of the assumptions and expectations of the discipline.
But these distinctions are not just important if you have to collect your own data for your paper.
You also need to be aware of them even when you are relying on secondary sources for your research.
You will need more systematic evidence to make your claim convincing.
Above all else, remember that your opinion alone is not sufficient support for a sociological argument.You need to know your audience, the way they view the world and how they order and evaluate information.So, without further ado, let’s figure out just what sociology is, and how one goes about writing it.Of course, that is true in all papers, but there are a couple of pitfalls common to sociology that you should be aware of and avoid at all cost.As previously defined, sociology is the study of the interaction between individuals and larger social forces.Finally, sociologists may look at divisions and inequality within society, examining phenomena such as race, gender, and class, and their effect on people’s choices and opportunities.As you can see, sociologists study just about everything. Wright Mills, in his book The Sociological Imagination (1959), writes that “neither the life of an individual nor the history of a society can be understood without understanding both.” Why?Keep it in mind as you think about your own writing.What are the most important things to keep in mind as you write in sociology? The first thing to remember in writing a sociological argument is to be as clear as possible in stating your thesis.Some sociologists favor qualitative over quantitative data, or vice versa, and it is perfectly reasonable to rely on only one method in your own work.However, since each method has its own strengths and weaknesses, combining methods can be a particularly effective way to bolster your argument.