Outline on   Types of Analysis
  -  An Overview of the Methods of the Social Sciences
  -  Research Design
  -  Project:  TOA Details 
  -  Project:  TOA 
  The Choice of the Type of Analysis determines the mode of inquiry (descriptive, correlation, comparison, etc.) which will be used to achieve the Research Objectives  
  Introduction:  This Web page tells you how to develop a most excellent analysis!
A weak analysis will only tell a story or describe the topic.
A good analysis will go beyond a mere description by engaging in several of the types of analysis listed below, but it will be weak on sociological analysis, the future orientation & the development of social policy. 
An excellent analysis will engage in many of the types of analyses discussed below and will demonstrate an aggressive sociological analysis which develops a clear future orientation and offers social policy changes  to address problems associated with the topic.
1. A Narrative Analysis tells a story   
      Emphasize Story-Telling here!   
      Story-Telling generally does not include the "Moral of the Story"   
2. A Descriptive Analysis offers a detailed description   
3.  A Socio Historical Analysis examines historical events utilizing social concepts, theories, processes, & structures   
4.  A Comparative Analysis explain how something is like or unlike something else.  
5.  A SWOT Analysis addresses the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats to the topic   
6.  A "Cause & Effect" Analysis demonstrates how the occurrence of one event correlates w/ a particular outcome   
      This analysis should focus on social causes not personal causes   
      Example:  Durkheim on Suicide   
      This analysis should identify all social causes & effects   
      Example:  School Shootings   
       It is often useful to construct a Flow Chart of immediate & remote causes   
7.  A Statistical Analysis will generally be used to demonstrate a "cause & effect" relationship ( i.e. a correlation ) or a comparison.  
8.  A Critique assesses the ideas of another or a social phenomenon   
9.  A Sociological Analysis utilizes one of the types of analysis described here while utilizing social concepts, processes, theories & one or more sociological paradigms   
        Utilize common social science concepts   
        Utilize one or a few theories   
        Utilize a school of thought / cluster of theories   
        Utilize one or two perspectives or paradigms   
          Each theorist & school may be placed in a paradigm, & uses concepts differently   
        Use social analysis to show cause & effect  
        Social Theory   
10.  An analysis that utilizes a Future Orientation should, in relationship to the variables & issues examined,  predict the future.  
      A Future Orientation should discuss the immediate term, long term, & distant term   
      A Future Orientation should discuss the best, middle, & worst case   
      A Future Orientation should apply narrative to the future   
11.  An analysis that offers a Social Policy (Solutions) is essentially proposing an integrated set of solutions that operate at both the individual & the social levels   
       Social vs individual social policy   
Other Types of Analyses are allowed & encouraged; however, they must be approved by the Professor prior to use   

1.  Narrative Analysis 

A Narrative Analysis tells a story using a lot of relevant & descriptive details; usually organized to tell the story in sequence.  The thesis is often implied, but, preferably, makes some specific, clearly articulated point about the story being told. 

Emphasize story telling here! 

Post modernists revolt against linear, scientific analysis & instead, let the story provide insight. 
     Action play
Read someone else's story/biography/experience,  then analyze or unpack or explain it

You may also use anything from literature, the arts, the media to convey your message
The classics are always best
      Titanic:  myth of making it big
      Romeo & Juliet:  ethnicity? classicism
      Autobiography of Macolm X
      Hurricane Carter
      Northern Exposure

If you utilized your own experience ( biography ), tell it as a story/novel 

Story Telling will generally not include the "moral of the story." 

The person who is truly committed to this method will only use narrative & refuse to offer explanations.  Most sociologist will use narrative, but then go on to explain/apply it.  The master of this method will so combine them so that the observer will not know whether the work is narrative or analysis.  Thus the reader is forced/allowed/lead to create their own meaning from the narrative.  The writer is not imposing his/her story, but presenting "reality" & then letting others decide/judge it. 

2.  Descriptive Analysis 

A Descriptive Analysis offers a detailed description  through the use of objective or subjective language to describe some object (a person, place or thing; it may be a “social object” such as discrimination), & in the process, give the reader some dominant impression (the thesis) of the thing being described.  The writer should identify their vantage point (the perspective from which they are viewing the object) which also determines the organization of the essay, going from far (macro structural) to close up (micro structural), changing the angle or starting w/ a general description, moving towards a specific one.

3. A Socio Historical Analysis examines historical events utilizing social concepts.

The socio historical analysis provides a history or historical overview w/ a focus on the sociological topic being examined, as well as a focus on the sociological factors related to the topic.  For example if one is examining the history of unemployment, one should also examine economic cycles, the maturation of the work force, etc.  While a historical analysis is merely a description of people & events from the past, a socio historical analysis examines history using social concepts (see Social Theory below) such as the industrial revolution, urbanization, democratization, etc., to not only describe history, but also to understand it perhaps in a way that not even the people living at the time understood it.  So like a short historical narrative, a soci historical analysis will tell the history, but also discuss / analyze / explore significant social relationships such as race, gender, crime, the env, social movements, immigration, econ structure, econ recession, etc. 

 It is strongly suggested that all assignments contain a Socio Historical Analysis. 

The goal of a socio historical analysis is to apply social science paradigms (eg:  conflict theory, functionalism, symbolic interactionism), theories (eg:  Marx on alienation, Durkheim & Merton on anomie, Hirschi on control, etc), concepts (eg:  class, status, power, etc),. processes (eg:  socialization, presentation of self, discrimination, etc), & structures (eg:  peers, family, religion, economy, etc) in order to provide a understanding of both the developmental evolution of the topic under examination as well as the social context in which the topic manifest in contemporary society. 

4. A Comparative Analysis explains how something is like or unlike something else.

The items compared need to have a basis of comparison, that is, they need to be enough alike to warrant a comparison.  The thesis should indicate whether the essay will focus on similarities or differences.  The purpose of the essay should be in the thesis statement's main clause. Subject by subject comparison treats each of the subjects the writer is comparing, but does so separately.  Each subject should be evaluated according to the same criteria and in the same order.  A point by point comparison treats subjects individually but alternately, in pairs.

5.  A SWOT Analysis addresses the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, & threats to the topic.

This comprehensive type of analysis addresses a topic w/ the aim of taking action in relation to the topic.  If an analysis demonstrates particular strengths & weakness, then particular opportunities & threats (actions) are implied. 

6.  A "Cause & Effect" Analysis demonstrates how the occurrence of one event correlates w/ a particular outcome.

( Remember in the social sciences, we generally hold that technically there is no "cause & effect" only correlations. )  While there are many types of cause & effect relationships, for most assignments in the social sciences, the focus should be on social causes and social effects.  It is also reasonable to examine how non-social (e.g. physical, biological, psychological, etc.) causes also have social effects. Statistical Analysis are often designed to demonstrate cause & effect, i.e. correlations between variables.  It is often helpful to ask: How does this particular cause & effect relationship really work?  ( as to opposed to how many believe it works )

Social causes should be the focus, not personal causes

The challenge of sociology is to make people look beyond personal causes

Example:  Durkheim on Suicide
    Lost spouse ( death, break-up, desertion )
    Lost other relative
    Lost job
Catholics less likely than other Protestant religions to commit suicide
Females less than males to commit suicide
Young & old less likely to commit suicide

Why?         Link
Social regulation 
Social integration

Identify all social causes & effects. 

To identify social causes & effects utilize social science concepts, theories, schools, & paradigms 
      1.  Show your cause - effect relationship
      2.  Brain storm on all causes
      3.  Identify levels of causes  ( personal, psychological, political, economic, etc. )
      4.  Translate causes into social concepts
      5.   Look for theories, schools & paradigms that address your area
            See which of those theories apply

Example:  School shootings. 

Why do students kill students?  Depressed, Angry, Alone, Hurt, 

Social isolation
Lack of regulation
Social structure:  the media, gun industry
Small group dynamics

Now which theories deal w/ school shootings or any of the concepts above? 
Which schools do they operate within?  ( i.e. related theories )
Which paradigms to the schools operate within?

A Flow chart of immediate & remote causes is often useful. 

Use your analysis to construct a flow chart w/ all possible cause 
Show interactions
Show how individual cause are affected by social forces
Show how individual forces aggregate to create social forces

7.  Statistical Analysis

A Statistical Analysis will generally be used to demonstrate a "cause & effect" relationship (i.e. a correlation) or a Comparison. 

Statistical Analysis should always assume that the reader does not understand statistics.  Thus, Statistical Analysis should always be accompanied by the appropriate type of analysis discussed here-in such as a Comparative Analysis or a "Cause & Effect" Analysis.

Statistical Analysis is aka. Aggregate Data Analysis / Archival Research 

Analysis of records & artifacts
  Old records
  Other current records
Aggregate Data Analysis is used to study current or historical events

Examples of Statistical Analysis: 

Durkheim's Suicide
Sir Francis Galton (1872) efficacy of prayer to prolong life
Statistical inquiries into the efficacy of prayer.  Fortnightly Review.  12, 125-135.
Phillips (1977)  copy-cat suicides
Phillips, DP  (1977) Motor vehicle fatalities increase just after publicized suicide stories. Science, 196, 1464-1465

8.  Critique

A Critique assesses the ideas of another or a social phenomenon. 

Generally, critiques address the strengths & weakness & take a position on the balance of the two.  In addressing strengths & weaknesses, critiques may address the validity of a cause & effect relationship, examining whether the relationship exists as assumed by its proponents.  Critiques are frequently given for private & public social policies.  The weakness of a critique is that it offers nothing but criticism.  This weakness, however, is mitigated in the current assignment by the requirement that all assignments are to offer their own social policy/solutions.

9.  Sociological Analysis

A Sociological Analysis utilizes one of the types of analysis described here while utilizing social concepts, processes, theories & one or more sociological paradigms. 

The writer seeks to find causes and/or describe or predict effects.  Non sociological types of analyses (biological, psychological, etc.) focus on the individual while sociological analysis focuses on - factors external to the individual such as social conditions
   in the community or society
- the meanings that members of a social organization share 
- an individual's social location (class, status, gender, 
   ethnicity, race, religion, authority position, etc.). 

In examining causes, the writer should look beyond the commonly accepted explanations (i.e., take nothing for granted, especially common sense assessments or explanations based on the prevailing view in society). 

It is often helpful to ask: 
       How does this particular cause & effect relationship really work?  (as to opposed to how many believe it works)
       Who really has the power? 
       Who benefits under the existing social arrangements, and who does not? 
       What is the social structure or context in which the issue exists? 

Social Theory:

One of the most effective ways to develop an analysis in line w/ a particular academic field is to use a particular set of concepts, processes, & theories in the analysis that are rooted in that academic field. Thus, in a social analysis, it is effective to use social concepts, & theories. The writer should attempt to:- use one of the sociological perspectives (functionalism, conflict theory, symbolic interactionism)
- use the framework one or more sociological theorist (Parsons, Mead, Marx, Merton, Habermas, Giddens, etc.)
- use many sociological concepts (alienation, anomie, culture, socialization, structure, etc.)

Utilize common social science concepts. 

Below is a list of the most important sociological concepts 
     ideal & real culture
class & false consciousness
    institutional discrimination
division of labor
latent & manifest functions
organizational dynamics
    rational authority
    traditional authority
social movements/collective behavior
social structures

Utilize one or a few theories. 

It is perfectly acceptable, in a research project which will produce a journal article or something similar to utilize one theorists article as a "foil," i.e. a theory w/ which you have a conversation  - compare & contrast compare your idea
  - critique the other ideas
  - use the other theory to critique your ideas
  - build on the other ideas

You do not need to state that compare & contrast is the pt of your research, but if your thesis is directly related to another theory then you may continually refer to that theory

Utilize a school of thought. 

A school of thought is where several theorists w/in a perspective construct ( propose & critique )a set of theories Durkheim, Marx, Weber, Parsons, Mead, Merton.....
Feminism, exchange theory, organizational theory, human ecology, equilibrium theory, evolutionary theory, social Darwinism, neo Marxism, neo functionalism, world systems theory.....

Note that many contemporary authors work in these areas.
Some areas are very vibrant now:  feminism, criminology
Some areas are out of favor:  neo Marxism, social Darwinism, but still have their advocates

Utilize a perspective or paradigm

Three of sociological perspectives
1. Functionalism
2. Conflict theory
3. Symbolic interactionism

Other social sciences have perspectives or paradigms too:
1.  Behavioral
2.  Freudian
3.  Humanistic
4.  Cognitive
        Neuro chemical

Poli Sci
1.  Rousseauian
2.  Hobbesian

Each theorists & school may be placed in a paradigm

Paradigms in sociology include conflict theory, functionalism, & symbolic interactionism.  In psychology, paradigms include behaviorism, psycho dynamics (Freudian), cognitive, & humanistic.  Other social sciences also have paradigmatic frames. 

Use social analysis to show cause & effect. 

Use social analysis ( concepts, theory, schools, paradigms ) to show / uncover / explain all the causes affecting the object of the research

Cause & effect occur at many levels
Global Warming
CO 2 enters atms        physical
One person does it      individual

10.  Future Orientation 

An analysis that utilizes a Future Orientation should, in relationship to the variables & issues examined,  predict the future.  Many of the types of analyses discussed here lean toward a discussion w/ a future orientation.  One of the major goals of any science is to predict the future.  In the future orientation analysis, the researcher uses any of the types of analyses discussed here, not only to understand the past & the present, but also to predict what will occur in the immediate term, the long term and in the distant term.  All assignments are required to have an extensive Future Orientation section of at least 10% of the length of the assignment..

The Future Orientation should analyze the immediate, long term, & distant terms. 

Immediate:  tomorrow to 5 yrs
Long term:  5 yrs to 10 yrs
Distant term:  beyond 10 yrs;  usually in increments of 25 yrs

All sociological research should predict events for the next 5 yrs
Exactly what you report on for the future,  depends on what you are looking at
The researcher needs to address those issues that he or she believes will be critical in the future
Be as specific as possible
Explain whether you believe we are due for 
1.  a gradual, incremental change 
     which is more a continuation of present social forces
     - implies no new forces
2.  a radical change
     which is due to either new social forces coming to play
     or due to aggregation of present social forces
     resulting in an imp threshold being reached
3.  an incremental reversal of the current trend
     - waning of present social forces &/or
     - introduction of new social forces
4.  a radical reversal of the current trend
     - waning of present social forces &/or
     - introduction of new social forces
5.  No change:  rare case

The Future Orientation should analyze the best, middle, & worst cases.   Whichever type of analysis you choose from above,     you may want to offer three possible scenarios:  best, middle, worst cases.  In other words, you offer at least 3 possibilities ( you may offer more ).  The possibilities should cover the entire range of possible behavior,  w/in reasonable limits.  Thus the range may include 3 continuing growth scenarios or 1 growth, 1 stable, 1 shrinkage scenarios or any combination.

Apply narrative to the future.   Do not get caught in simply posting numbers which describe future social relationships.  Offer a picture, a narrative, an image of what the future will be like

11.  Social Policy (Solutions) 

An analysis that offers a Social Policy (Solutions) is essentially proposing an integrated set of solutions that operate at both the individual & the social levels.  An analysis may be used as a basis for assessing the outcomes or effects in a cause and effect relation and offering a recommendation or solution for the question examined.  That is, an analysis may be used to formulate a policy that addresses the problems in relation to the causes or effects of the sociological analysis. 

Social policy should be developed by you, tailored to fit the topic of your paper.  If there is proposed legislation that you approve of, discuss that, but it is expected that your social policy section shall go beyond what others have proposed. 

Social Policy Sections, Subsections Sub subsections 

The social policy section should include the following subsections & sub subsections:

1.  Intro:  State the solution in one sentence.  Then expand if necessary.  
2.  Consideration of the cause & effects.  This subsection explains why the solution will work by referring back to the analysis in the paper.  
3.  Type of social policy.  Discuss if the solution is based in law, education, rewards, punishment, policy rules, govt regulations, advertisement/raising awareness, therapy/counseling, resources (money, people, material goods, etc), & others.  And discuss how the solution would be structured, eg what should the law say?  What should the advertising say?  Etc. 
4.  SWOT:  Analyze the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, or threats of the proposed social policy as appropriate.   

Social vs individual social policy.   You may offer individual suggestions for change.  Good research should offer social solutions.

Other Types of Analysis:  There are many other types of analysis/explanations, including:  psychological, physical, biological, religious, historical, political, literary, etc.  In general, these are not suitable for the social sciences.  They may be used only when comparing them to, or in some way relating them to the types of analysis discussed above. 

The End