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Making Sense of the Social World

Making Sense of the Social World
Methods of Investigation

Fifth Edition

An approachable and enjoyable introduction to research methods.

400 pages | SAGE Publications, Inc

Congratulations to Daniel F. Chambliss , winner of the ASA Distinguished Contribution to Teaching Prize for 2018.

At the heart of this book is the authors’ firm belief that understanding research methods is critical to being an informed citizen in our complex, fast-paced social world. Now in its Fifth Edition, Making Sense of the Social World continues to help students achieve that understanding by providing a balanced treatment of qualitative and quantitative methods, integrating substantive examples and research techniques throughout. All essential elements of social research methods are covered, including validity, causation, experimental and quasi-experimental design, and techniques of analysis. Additionally, it is written in a less formal style to make concepts more accessible to students, and it includes wide-ranging, practical exercises drawn from every experience to help students get hands-on with the material. Not only do students find the book approachable and easy to digest, but they also enjoy it!

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Chapter 1: Science, Society, and Social Research
Learning about the Social World

Can Social Scientists See the Social World More Clearly?

How Well Have We Done Our Research?

Chapter 2: The Process and Problems of Social Research
What Is the Question?

What Is the Theory?

What Is the Strategy?

What Is the Design?

But Is It Ethical?

Chapter 3: Ethics in Research
Historical Background

Ethical Principles

Chapter 4: Conceptualization and Measurement
What Do We Have in Mind?

How Will We Know When We’ve Found It?

How Much Information Do We Really Have?

Did We Measure What We Wanted to Measure?

Chapter 5: Sampling
How Do We Prepare to Sample?

What Sampling Method Should We Use?

Chapter 6: Causation and Experimental Design
Causal Explanation

What Causes What?

Why Experiment?

What If a True Experiment Isn’t Possible?

What Are the Threats to Validity in Experiments?

How Do Experimenters Protect Their Subjects?

Chapter 7: Survey Research
Why Is Survey Research So Popular?

How Should We Write Survey Questions?

How Should Questionnaires Be Designed?

What Are the Alternatives for Administering Surveys?

A Comparison of Survey Designs

Ethical Issues in Survey Research

Chapter 8: Elementary Quantitative Data Analysis
Why Do Statistics?

How to Prepare Data for Analysis

What Are the Options for Displaying Distributions?

What Are the Options for Summarizing Distributions?

How Can We Tell Whether Two Variables Are Related?

Analyzing Data Ethically: How Not to Lie With Statistics

Chapter 9: Qualitative Methods: Observing, Participating, Listening
What Are Qualitative Methods?

How Does Participant Observation Become a Research Method?

How Do You Conduct Intensive Interviews?

How Do You Run Focus Groups?

Analyzing Qualitative Data

Ethical Issues in Qualitative Research

Chapter 10: Qualitative Data Analysis
What Is Distinctive About Qualitative Data Analysis?

What Techniques Do Qualitative Data Analysts Use?

What Are Some Alternatives in Qualitative Data Analysis?

Why Are Mixed Methods Helpful?

How Can Computers Assist Qualitative Data Analysis?

What Ethical Issues Arise in Doing Qualitative Data Analysis?

Chapter 11: Unobtrusive Measures
Creative Sources

Content Analysis

Historical Methods

Comparative Methods

Chapter 12: Evaluation Research
What Is the History of Evaluation Research?

What Is Evaluation Research?

What Are the Alternatives in Evaluation Designs?

What Can an Evaluation Study Focus On?

Ethical Issues in Evaluation Research

Chapter 13: Reviewing, Proposing, and Reporting Research
Comparing Research Designs

Reviewing Research

Proposing New Research

Reporting Research



Instructor Resource site

SAGE edge for Instructors supports your teaching by making it easy to integrate quality content and create a rich learning environment for students.

  • Test banks provide a diverse range of pre-written options as well as the opportunity to edit any question and/or insert your own personalized questions to effectively assess students’ progress and understanding.
  • Sample course syllabi for semester and quarter courses provide suggested models for structuring your courses.
  • Editable, chapter-specific PowerPoint® slides offer complete flexibility for creating a multimedia presentation for your course.
  • EXCLUSIVE! Access to full-text SAGE journal articles that have been carefully selected to support and expand on the concepts presented in each chapter.
  • Multimedia content includes original SAGE videos that appeal to students with different learning styles.
  • Lecture notes summarize key concepts by chapter to help you prepare for lectures and class discussions.
Student Study Site

Student Study Site (Open Access)

SAGE edge for Students provides a personalized approach to help students accomplish their coursework goals in an easy-to-use learning environment.

  • Mobile-friendly practice quizzes allow for independent assessment by students of their mastery of course material.
  • Mobile-friendly eFlashcards strengthen understanding of key terms and concepts.
  • An online action plan includes tips and feedback on progress through the course and materials, which allows students to individualize their learning experience.
  • Chapter summaries with learning objectives reinforce the most important material.
  • SAGE Readings and Journal Articles combine cutting-edge academic journal scholarship with the topics in your course for a robust classroom experience. Full-text CQ Researcher, Pacific Standard magazine, and SAGE journal articles have been carefully selected to support and expand on the concepts.
  • Carefully selected chapter-by-chapter video and multimedia content which enhance classroom-based explorations of key topics.

Interesting text that can work across various social science fields. Students will benefit from the online resources.

Dr Sandi DiMola
Political Science, Carlow University
June 9, 2015

The book is visually appealing, covers the topics well, and progresses through the material effectively for students. The companion website provides additional learning resources for students.

Dr Tammy Esteves
Political Science , Troy University
January 30, 2015

Sample Materials & Chapters

(Chapter 3) - (Ethics in Research)

Daniel F. Chambliss

Daniel F. Chambliss, PhD, is the Eugene M. Tobin Distinguished Professor of Sociology, Emeritus at Hamilton College in Clinton, New York, where he has taught from 1981 to 2023. He received his PhD from Yale University in 1982; later that year, his thesis research received the American Sociological Association’s (ASA’s) Medical Sociology Dissertation Prize. In 1988, he published the book Champions: The Making of Olympic Swimmers, which received the Book of the Year Prize from the U.S. Olympic Committee. In 1989, he received the ASA’s Theory Prize for work on organizational excellence based on his swimming research. Recipient of both... More About Author

Russell K. Schutt

Russell K. Schutt, PhD, is professor emeritus of sociology at the University of Massachusetts Boston, where he received the 2007 Chancellor’s Award for Distinguished Service and taught from 1979 to 2022. He is also a Clinical Research Scientist I at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and a Lecturer (part-time) in the Department of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School. He completed his BA, MA, and PhD degrees at the University of Illinois at Chicago and was a postdoctoral fellow in the Sociology of Social Control Training Program at Yale University (where he met Dan). In addition to ten editions of Investigating the Social World: The... More About Author