TOPIC OF THE ISSUE:
METHOD AND INTERPRETATION IN SOCIOLOGICAL SURVEYS
This Issue editor: Kristina Petkova
Social Survey Methods: Traditions and Current Trends
A Methodological Look at Qualitative Methods in the Sociological Survey
The Set-Theoretic Approach in Social Research: Its State and Outlooks
METHOD AND SOCIOLOGICAL PRACTICES
Action Research: An Example of Adapting and Applying Active Sociological Surveying in Bulgaria
Vassil Kirov, Ekaterina Markova, Darina Peycheva
Event History Analysis and Its Applicationin Life Course Sociology
Elitsa Dimitrova, Tatyana Kotzeva
The Interviewer Strikes Back (Difficulties in Attaining Valid Empirical Knowledge, Strategies for Overcoming Them)
THE BIOGRAPHICAL METHOD
Biographical Research as Historical Sociology: Methodological Reflections
From Europe to the Europeans and Beyond: A Study of European Identity Using Biographical Methods
Rumyana Zheleva, Mariana Draganova
INEQUALITIES: SOCIOLOGICAL PROBLEMATIZATIONS
Horizontal Gender Segregation at Workplaces: Consequences for Stratification
Discourse and Symbolic Power: Inequality and the Forms of Discursive Discrimination
CONTEMPORARY SOCIETIES AND RATIONALIZING SOCIAL PROCESSES
How Societies Go Where They Do Not Want to Go – Methods, Interpretations and Rationality of Societies
The End of Balkanization
Breakdown of Neon: Neon Advertising Signs in the Time of Socialism in Bulgaria
CULTURAL LEGACY IN A SOCIOLOGICAL FOCUS
The Impact of Socialization upon the Evaluation of Cultural Legacy Objects
Reflections Provoked by Rouman Avramov’s Book „Salvation“ and Downfall. The Micro Economy of State Anti-Semitismin Bulgaria 1940–1944
„Regionalization Engenders Inequalities of Its Own“
Svetla Koleva Interviews Michael Burawoy
Michael Burawoy Is Awarded the Honorary Badge with Ribbon for Foreign Scholar of the Institute for the Study
of Societies and Knowledge at BAS (Sofia, March 18, 2013)
Annual Conference on Rural Problems „The Long Journey to the Village“ (Sofia, May 31, 2013)
The Traveling University and Summer School for Practices of Sustainable Regional Development: Chiprovtsi 2013
(Chiprovtsi, June 3–9, 2013)
RESPONSES AND REVIEWS
Believe in Sociology!
(Svetla Marinova’s book On the Political Economy of Narratives about the Past in German History of Sociology)
Sociology as a Science: Discovering Raymond Boudon in Bulgarian
The Cooperative in Bulgarian Villages: A Bright Past and an Unclear Future
Mummery as Masquerade Asking Questions about Post-socialist Modernity
Galina Koleva, Stuart Amor
Michael Burawoy Is Awarded the Honorary Badge with Ribbon for Foreign Scholar of the Institute for the Study of Societies and Knowledge at BAS (Sofia, March 18, 2013)
Michael Burawoy is a British sociologist, best known as author of Manufacturing Consent: Changes in the Labor Process under Monopoly Capitalism — a study on work and organizations that has been translated into a number of languages — and as the leading proponent of public sociology. Burawoy was also president of the American Sociological Association in 2004 and is presently a professor at the University of California, Berkeley. In 2006–2010, he was vice-president for the Committee of National Associations of the International Sociological Association. In the XVII ISA World Congress of Sociology he was elected President of the International Sociological Association (ISA) for the period 2010–2014.
TOPIC OF THE ISSUE:
METHOD AND INTERPRETATION IN SOCIOLOGICAL SURVEYS
This Issue editor: Kristina Petkova
SOCIAL SURVEY METHODS: TRADITIONS AND CURRENT TRENDS
The article discusses the complex and contradictory processes of establishing and legitimating quantitative and qualitative methods; these processes are assumed to be logically derived from the development of the concepts of sociological method in two main paradigmatic traditions – the positivist and the phenomenological. The author shows how the very logic of the two paradigmatic approaches presupposes the formation and development of fundamentally different competing methodological traditions in understanding the nature, epistemological grounds, ontological constraints, and functions of the quantitative and qualitative methods of data collection in the social survey. In the context of challenges to sociology arising in the postmodern age, the multi-method approach appears to be a both rational and relevant methodological solution.
Keywords: methodology, social empirical survey, quantitative and qualitative methods, positivism, phenomenology, combined research methods
A METHODOLOGICAL LOOK AT QUALITATIVE METHODS IN THE SOCIOLOGICAL SURVEY
This article offers various arguments in support of the idea that the usual division of research methods of information gathering, processing, and analysis into quantitative and qualitative is incorrect. It would be closer to the truth to refer to numerical and non-numerical methods, where the non-numerical may be called qualitative, and the numerical may be divided into quantitative and qualitative. Moreover, in social surveys, due to the nature of traits and dependencies involved in the analysis, we should only refer to qualitative methods.
For a number of reasons, the usually applied statistical means of data processing and data analysis in surveys involve a number of constraints and make substantial generalization more difficult. Moreover, a genuinely sociological explanation of the surveyed phenomena or social processes that are the topic of study is not attained through them. Interpretation of survey information usually comes down to a superficial interpretation of the formal processing results.
This situation requires the application of methods that are qualitative in the commonly accepted sense. They include the methods of so-called „warm“ sociology. The author briefly discusses the use of some of these methods and their substantial results.
However, the interpreting, and especially the generalizing, of results is done in a quite subjective way. The liberty of interpretation rather leads to unscientific arguments that only serve to ground the researcher’s own authority.
A possible way to at least partially overcome the subjective interpretation of „qualitative“ survey results is to „mathematize“ them. The author points out some possible and available means for such a procedure: by building scales; shifting from percentages to score values; „digitizing“ (shifting from non-metric to metric scales); through expert assessments, viewed as a variant of the „operations analysis“ methods. Once the scales are built, it becomes possible to use various statistical methods, for instance „path“ analysis. In any case, the application of mathematical means would lead to more precise grounding of sociological conclusions.
Keywords: quantitative and qualitative methods, results of application of qualitative methods, interpretation, mathematization
THE SET-THEORETIC APPROACH IN SOCIAL RESEARCH: ITS STATE AND OUTLOOKS
The article presents a review of the generation and development of Fuzzy Set Theory as an alternative research instrument in social sciences and, respectively, in sociology. Some major elements of this approach are explained, and its advantages in comparison with conventional statistical methods are emphasized. Two main directions of development are outlined: methodological enrichment for more effective application in social analyses, and convergence with the standard apparatus of mathematical statistics. Some examples of application of Fuzzy Set Theory in social studies and analyses are reviewed, such as community profiling, identification of specific consumer practices, study of Global Civil Society, large households data structuring, investigation of human capital and the labour market, poverty reduction study, etc. The conclusion is drawn that the set-theoretic approach based on Fuzzy Set Theory has great heuristic potential, serving as an effective research instrument in modern sociology; as such it has a capacity for further development and improvement.
Keywords: methodology of sociological surveys, set-theoretical approach, Fuzzy Set theory, qualitative comparative analysis
ACTION RESEARCH: AN EXAMPLE OF ADAPTING AND APPLYING ACTIVE SOCIOLOGICAL SURVEYING IN BULGARIA
VASSIL KIROV, EKATERINA MARKOVA, DARINA PEYCHEVA
The article highlights the methodological principles of „Action Research“ (AR), an interactive approach that goes beyond the traditional research arsenal, placing the researcher in the non-traditional role of an „active participant“ engaged in the change of social processes and the solving of particular problems that are the object of sociological research. Action Research is widely applied in different scientific fields – sociology, psychology, pedagogy, economics, management, etc. The article points out the opportunities for applying this innovative approach in sociological analysis. In this regard, the authors also present world research experience, with a focus both on the variety of research methods applied in the framework of AR and on the advantages and limitation of the approach. Some methodological challenges involved in applying this research approach in Bulgarian practice are also presented; the specific experience in AR application in the framework of the comparative research project WALQING (www.walqing.eu) is shared.
Keywords: Action Research (AR), methods and methodology of sociological surveys, quality of labour, garbage collection, active sociology
EVENT HISTORY ANALYSIS METHOD AND ITS APPLICATION IN LIFE COURSE SOCIOLOGY
ELITSA DIMITROVA, TATYANA KOTZEVA
The article concisely presents the conceptual framework and terminology of life course sociology as well as one of the basic quantitative methods applied in this field, event history analysis. This method permits analyzing the dynamics in the life course of individuals at various life transition points connected with their participation in various spheres of public life (education, work, family life, etc.). One of the strong points of the method is the possibility it offers of incorporating various forms of activeness displayed by individuals making life transitions, and the possibility of assessing the impact of activeness on these transitions. The use of event analysis is illustrated in the article through the results of a study of young people leaving the parental home in Bulgaria.
Keywords: event history analysis, life course, transition, leaving parental home
THE INTERVIEWER STRIKES BACK(DIFFICULTIES IN ATTAINING VALID EMPIRICAL KNOWLEDGE, STRATEGIES FOR OVERCOMING THEM)
The article focuses on the role of interviewers in the implementation of empirical research and their „power“ to recruitment of primary raw information. The interviewer is often squeezed between the demands of researchers and the at times impossible conditions of the fieldwork. Hence, the purpose of this article will be to examine the process of achieving the primary information and reliable sociological knowledge from the interviewer’s point of view. The article analyzes data from in-depth interviews with interviewers conducted specially for the purpose of this study. The rules and regulations for carrying out each stage of the fieldwork are examined in detail so as to determine when, why, and how they are violated. Difficulties that interviewers encounter in their fieldwork are analyzed, as well as the strategies to overcome them – including (especially) the application of non-allowed methods to achieve the objectives. We will focus also on the step-by-step process of implementation of the fieldwork – from instruction, through the identification of respondents and conducting of the interview, to the transmission of the raw data, while always taking into account the personal involvement of the interviewer in the overall process of the fieldwork. Finally, we draw conclusions and make generalizations whereby to formulate proposals how to counter the effect of the „interviewer’s striking back“ upon the reliability and the overall results of the empirical study.
Keywords: interviewers, accuracy of information, fieldwork methods of control
BIOGRAPHICAL RESEARCH AS HISTORICAL SOCIOLOGY: METHODOLOGICAL REFLECTIONS
The article treats of the issue as to the general in the individual, specifically in the case of biographies. Referring to the early studies of the Chicago School, the author discusses the claim of sociological biographical studies that they consider the separate case not only in the social-historical context of lived experience but also in the different contexts in which that experience is thematized, including the interviewing situation. In addition to the narrative interview, which has become a classical instrument of biographical studies, the author insists on the use of additional sources. She highlights the importance of the concept of discourse for reconstructing the contexts in which biographical experiences are spoken about, and clarifies why, when analyzing life narratives, it is necessary to reveal both the rules that were in effect in the past and those of the present, and the discourses experienced and shared at various moments and in various social-historical contexts. Taking the example of refugees from former Yugoslavia, the author demonstrates to what extent biographical reconstruction of a case discloses not only the specifics of one case but also the condition of the respective society, its emergence and change.
Keywords: sociological biographical studies; case reconstruction; biography and discourse; social construction of belonging