In an ex-colonial nation such as India, the discipline of sociology grew by absorbing multiple influences from local milieu and national concerns. Changes in disciplinary trends worldwide also influenced the ways in which sociological knowledge was produced. However, research methodology is still not considered a distinct field in Indian academia, because of which emerging issues and concerns around the methodology of sociological research, or changing trends, do not receive adequate attention.
Doing Social Research tries to fill this gap by providing scholars with an introduction to a range of qualitative methods—oral history, content analysis, ethnography, life history method, narrative analysis—used to conduct research in new and emerging fields. Given the profound changes in the nature of sociology and sociological practice, the chapters present sociological research as a ‘messy’ multilayered exercise, historically situated and dependent upon varied ideas, practices and perspectives.
The contributors make use of the historical method to understand questions of caste in the Dalit struggle, the ‘village studies tradition’ and how its very meaning has changed over time. Balancing the discussion on theories are tangible examples of engagement with these methods: the life history method helps to provide an account of a working-class woman; oral history brings to light the experiences of women following the Bhopal Gas Tragedy; a shift from interviews to narratives enables a patient-centred approach in medical accounts, among many others.
Combining theory and practical knowledge, Doing Social Research will be invaluable for students and scholars of sociology and social anthropology.
Shoma Choudhury Lahiri is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology at St. Xavier’s College, Kolkata.
List of Abbreviations
Shoma Choudhury Lahiri
1. Science as Bricolage: Methodology of Social Studies of Science
2. Listening to Accounts of Health and Illness: What Do Narratives Tell Us?
3. Historical Sociology and the Dalit Question in Modern India
Edward A. Rodrigues
4. The Village Studies Tradition in Indian Sociology
5. Participatory Research Methods: Why Participation, What Empowerment, Whose Research?
M. Kumaran and Biraj Swain
6. Is Life a Riddle? Storytelling and the Ethnographic Imagination
7. Untying the ‘Sociology of Literature’: Reading the ‘Social’ in Literary Texts
Runa Das Chaudhuri
8. Jaya and Her Worlds of Work: A Life History Account of a Sanitation Worker in Mumbai
9. Doing Ethnography: On Researching the People’s Science Movement in Kerala
Shoma Choudhury Lahiri
10. Academic Research vs Activism: The Perils of doing Ethnographic Research on the Bhopal Gas Tragedy
Notes on Contributors