Surveying the Social World: Principles and Practice in Survey Research

Surveying the Social World: Principles and Practice in Survey Research

Surveying the Social World: Principles and Practice in Survey Research

Surveying the Social World: Principles and Practice in Survey Research


• What are the strengths and limitations of social surveys?

• How can the principles of surveying be put into practice?

• How are findings analysed and results presented?

The survey has become a widely used technique for gathering information and opinions from individuals, organizations, and other groups. In Surveying the Social World, Aldridge and Levine begin by examining the contemporary state of surveys within society and social science methodology, explaining the potential of the survey method and the ways it can be used effectively when resources are limited. They then take the reader systematically through the process of conducting survey research covering in turn, the role of theory, the planning and design of projects, pilot work, access to informants, ethical issues, sampling methods, the preparation of questionnaires, interviewing, the use of computer packages, processing responses, statistical methods of data analysis, and the presentation of findings.

Unlike some rival texts that stress complications and difficulties of conducting social surveys, this book adopts a consciously 'can-do' approach, emphasizing strategies and practical tips. Written in a direct style with a clear structure, each chapter begins with a list of key elements and concludes with summary points, points for reflection and suggestions for further reading. As well as examples of techniques and good practice from a variety of surveys, the authors use their own Travel Survey throughout the book to illustrate the decisions that need to be taken at each stage of the survey process. For the technical topics, there is a glossary containing over 130 technical terms that are highlighted in the text. The result is an essential guide to conducting social surveys for students in the social sciences, and for others who need to carry out a community or organizational survey but who may have no previous training in social research methods or experience of survey work.


This Understanding Social Research series is designed to help students to understand how social research is carried out and to appreciate a variety of issues in social research methodology. It is designed to address the needs of students taking degree programmes in areas such as sociology, social policy, psychology, communication studies, cultural studies, human geography, political science, criminology and organization studies and who are required to take modules in social research methods. It is also designed to meet the needs of students who need to carry out a research project as part of their degree requirements. Postgraduate research students and novice researchers will find the books equally helpful.

The series is concerned to help readers to 'understand' social research methods and issues. This will mean developing an appreciation of the pleasures and frustrations of social research, an understanding of how to implement certain techniques, and an awareness of key areas of debate. The relative emphasis on these different features will vary from book to book, but in each one the aim will be to see the method or issue from the position of a practising researcher and not simply to present a manual of 'how to' steps. In the process, the series will contain coverage of the major methods of social research and will address a variety of issues and debates. Each book in the series is written by a practising researcher who has experience of the techniques or debates that he or she is addressing. Authors are encouraged to draw on their own experiences and inside knowledge.

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