In the Field: An Introduction to Field Research

In the Field: An Introduction to Field Research

In the Field: An Introduction to Field Research

In the Field: An Introduction to Field Research


The structure of the social sciences combines two separate elements, theory and empirical evidence. Both are necessary for successful social understanding; one without the other is barren. The Contemporary Social Research series is concerned with the means by which this structure is maintained and kept standing solid and upright, a job performed by the methodology of social research.

The series is intended to provide concise introductions to significant methodological topics. Broadly conceived, research methodology deals with the general grounds for the validity of social scientific propositions. How do we know what we do know about the social world? More narrowly, it deals with the questions: how do we actually acquire new knowledge about the world in which we live? What are the strategies and techniques by means of which social science data are collected and analysed? The series will seek to answer such questions through the examination of specific areas of methodology.

Why is such a series necessary? There exist many solid, indeed massive, methodology textbooks, which most undergraduates in sociology, psychology and the social sciences acquire familiarity with in the course of their studies. The aim of this series is different. It focuses upon specific topics, procedures, methods of analysis and methodological problems to provide a readable introduction to its subject. Each book contains annotated suggestions for further reading. The intended audience includes the advanced under-graduate, the graduate student, working social researchers seeking to familiarise themselves with new areas, and non-specialists who wish to enlarge their knowledge of social research. Research methodology need not be remote and inaccessible. Some prior knowledge of statistics will be useful, but only certain titles in the series will make strong statistical demands upon the reader. The series is concerned above all to demonstrate the general importance and centrality of research methodology to social science.

In the Field, by Robert Burgess, complements the author’s earlier anthology in this series, Field Research: a Sourcebook and Field Manual (1982), which has been well received. In the Field provides a more detailed and focused treatment of the central topics of field research, drawing extensively upon the author’s own experience of doing research in a secondary school. He provides a comprehensive overview of this style of research, together with numerous suggestions for further reading, both methodological and substantive.


London School of Economics and Political Science . . .

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