Researcherís guide

Instruments of Social Research
By Jaspal Singh.
Rawat Publications. Pages 312. Rs 775.

Reviewed by Amarinder Sandhu

THE social being whose behaviour was guided by the traditional group has lost its sheen and has become more independent. The behaviuor of a person is not guided much or controlled by the group, rather it depends more on individual orientation. This transformed social milieu calls for an empirical and concrete method of study. Author Jaspal Singh suggests using Max Weberís interpretative understanding or "verstehen" as a method of research and devotes an entire chapter to this great social thinker and the method advocated by him. Weberís construction of ideal types and the importance of value neutrality have been stressed upon. Sociology as a science understands that every action has to be understood and the causal factors explained. Instruments of Social Research highlights the fundamentals of research and gives a clear understanding of the devices used to study the rapidly changing society.

The task before a social researcher is enormous He designs the hypothesis, sifts around for suitable instruments of data collection. He then processes and analyses the data. This book introduces the reader to the instruments of research, where validity and reliability form the key words. The writer encourages the researcher to go beyond the descriptive method and treat sociology as a science. The book seeks to explain the fundamentals of what exactly constitutes research and how it is to be conducted in a scientific manner.

The reader is introduced to the types of research, research designs and the common steps involved in conducting research. An entire chapter has been devoted to the meaning and characteristics of scientific method. Citing theological and metaphysical methods as unscientific, the writer goes on to describe a variety of alternative methods. Observation is one of the oldest techniques, and special stress has been laid on participant observation. The book explains the rudiments of conducting an interview and framing questions for the questionnaire. It highlights the importance of precision and avoidance of "instrumental tags".

Sociology is a science because it can be measured and scaled. A scale is used as a standard tool for accurate measurement .The book points towards the correct use of indicators and index and also acts as a guide towards scale construction. Various scales like the Likert, Bogardus, Guttman scales have been dealt with. Sampling as an integral part of research and the different ways of sampling have been looked into. Statistics are used to analyse the data which is processed using coding and then interpreted. This is an excellent guide to the use of statistics which explains the use of Chi-square, Yates correction and other associated calculations. The author uses clear-cut examples removing all doubts from the minds of the reader.

This book may help a rookie to proceed from formulating a hypothesis till the final report writing. It clearly explains the review of the literarure, footnotes, bibliography and putting everything in blue and black. Dealing with all aspects of research, it is an excellent guide for a novice. This is a book highly recommended for budding researchers. It is a good reference book for all those dealing with social research and will prove handy to the research guides and the students alike.