What do you mean by social research? How is it different from ‘common sense’

Understanding Social Research:

Social research refers to a methodical and structured process of investigation aimed at comprehending, explaining, and predicting various facets of human society and behavior. It encompasses the systematic gathering, analysis, and interpretation of data to uncover trends, correlations, and underlying mechanisms within social phenomena. The primary goal of social research is to provide empirical evidence that transcends mere intuition or common sense, contributing to the formulation of theories, policies, and well-informed decision-making.

Distinguishing from Common Sense:

While both social research and common sense contribute to our comprehension of societal dynamics, they diverge significantly in terms of their methodologies, rigor, and outcomes.

1. Methodological Systematization: Social research employs structured methodologies involving careful planning, data collection, and analysis. Researchers formulate studies with specific research inquiries and hypotheses, adopt data collection techniques like surveys, interviews, and experiments, and utilize statistical analysis to derive valid conclusions. Conversely, common sense relies on personal observations, anecdotal evidence, and general assumptions, often without adhering to a systematic approach.

2. Objective Approach: Objectivity is a key tenet of social research, aiming to minimize bias during data collection and analysis. Researchers adhere to standardized procedures to mitigate the influence of personal beliefs and preconceptions on outcomes. In contrast, common sense is prone to being influenced by individual perspectives, cultural biases, and limited personal experiences.

3. Empirical Foundation: Social research hinges on empirical evidence acquired through well-designed studies and systematic data analysis. This evidence is subjected to scrutiny through peer review processes in academia, ensuring a higher degree of reliability. In contrast, common sense frequently relies on anecdotal evidence, hearsay, and intuitive beliefs that might lack empirical substantiation or be susceptible to cognitive biases.

4. Applicability to Wider Contexts: Social research aims to generate findings that hold relevance beyond specific cases or individuals. By studying larger and diverse samples and employing statistical techniques, researchers can make more accurate predictions about broader populations. Common sense is often based on individual experiences and might not adequately encapsulate the intricacies and diversity of society.

5. Exploring Complexity and Profundity: Social research probes into intricate social phenomena, aiming to uncover concealed patterns, causal relationships, and interplays. This often necessitates advanced methodologies and in-depth analyses that go beyond the superficial comprehension offered by common sense.

6. Informed Decision-Making: Social research contributes to evidence-driven decision-making by furnishing dependable information that policymakers, organizations, and individuals can utilize for well-considered choices. Common sense, while valuable in everyday scenarios, might not consistently align with reality or provide the requisite depth for intricate decisions.

7. Advancement of Knowledge: Social research contributes to the refinement and evolution of knowledge within various disciplines, fostering the creation of theories and models that elucidate and forecast social behavior. Common sense, while intuitive, does not always undergo the same rigorous evaluation and progression.

To sum up, social research transcends common sense through its methodological systematization, pursuit of objectivity, reliance on empirical evidence, and focus on complexity, thereby unearthing profound insights into the intricate fabric of societal dynamics. While common sense suffices for routine situations, social research furnishes a comprehensive and nuanced comprehension of societal intricacies, empowering judicious decision-making, policy formulation, and the advancement of collective understanding.

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