Different research strategies are often grouped by sociologists into two main categories as “quantitative” and “qualitative”. The major differences between these categories are in their approach to studies because quantitative research involves measuring the amount of the studied objects, and qualitative one aims to explore and assess the quality of the studied objects. In addition, quantitative research strategy is concerned with empirical data whereas qualitative one is not. On the contrary, qualitative research strategy aims to address social and cultural phenomena.
Evaluating the research methods used by Simon Davis, Charles Gallagher, and Stanley Milgram (described in the article by Philip Meyer), it should be stated that all of them had very interesting concepts rather different from each other. The methods used by Simon Davis in his article fall into a category of qualitative research which can be proved by the following facts. First of all, the main basis of his findings is in studying newspaper announcements that people place to solve some of their problems or attain some of their goals. Secondly, the advertisements and the data received from them are carefully sorted by the researcher and subjected to mathematic calculations with the use of specifically designed formulas.
To give himself (and readers) confidence in his findings, Davis used a basic statistical test known as “chi-square”. This test enables the researcher to determine whether it is valid to say that a relationship exists between the variables being studied (Davis, n. d., p. 29).
Such mathematic calculations can be seen as the main evidence proving the qualitative nature of Davis’ research. However, the fact that the researcher implemented the strategy when data from periodical publications are used may also suggest that the research is also made from the point of view of a quantitative approach because the studied publications explore social and cultural phenomena. Thus, the nature of Davis’ research is ambiguous to some extent.
Charles Gallagher resorts to the use of a qualitative research method. This can be seen in the fact that the main basis of his conclusions is in exploring social phenomena through interviews, surveys, and common opinions expressed by different people publicly. “This study uses individual interviews, focus groups, and opened-ended surveys to examine the explanations white respondents offer for inflating the size of U.S. minority populations” (Gallagher, 2003, p. 381). On the other hand, it can be seen that the survey data are used as a data bank for a few calculations. Thus, the article also has some features of qualitative research in it.
Finally, Stanley Milgram applied the qualitative research method which can be seen in the main concept of his article. The article was based on the results of an experiment conducted by Milgram in the 1960s. The experiment explored the conduct of several people who engaged in it. “Milgram tried it with forty different subjects. And thirty percent of them obeyed the experimenter and kept on obeying” (Meyer, 1970, p. 5). The main objective of this research was to explore “the conflict between the need to obey the relevant ruling authority and the need to follow your conscience” (Meyer, 1970, p. 11). The empirical data received as a result of the experiment served as the main soil for Milgram’s conclusions. Thus, a conclusion can be made that the author used a qualitative research method in his article.
Davis, S. (n. d.). Men as Success Objects and Women as Sex Objects: A Study of Personal Advertisements. Sex Roles, 23(1/2), 29-35.
Gallagher, C. (2003). Miscounting Race: Explaining Whites’ Misperceptions of Racial Group Size. Sociological Perspectives, 46(3), 381-396.
Meyer, P. (1970). If Hitler Asked You to Electrocute a Stranger Would You? Esquire, 1-11.