This splendid introduction to social research describes an area of scientific investigation that profoundly influences our daily lives and thoughts, but about which most of us know very little. We can picture a research chemist at work, white-coated and surrounded by beakers and test tubes—but what is the nature of social research? For interested general readers and particularly for students entering the various social science fields, Morton Hunt paints an immensely informative and accessible portrait.
He begins with a lucid overview of the important varieties of social research, describing their advantages and limitations. Against this background, Hunt then details five remarkable case histories, eyewitness accounts of significant recent episodes in social research. Woven skillfully through each narrative are explorations of the basic methodological, practical, moral and political issues raised by social research. The story of a noteworthy series of sociopsychological experiments on teamwork, for example, enables Hunt to weigh the merits of using a laboratory setting to study social behavior and the ethics of deceiving human subjects. In similar fashion, Hunt depicts a historic cross-sectional survey on segregated schooling; a complex attempt to measure the impact of welfare programs; a real-world experiment with guaranteed annual incomes; and a path-breaking study of human aging that followed its subjects for a generation.
This engaging and intelligent book will give readers a new understanding of the breadth and richness of social research as well as an informed appreciation of its significance for their lives.