Social research is market research done to design, collect, and process information that can help give insights to businesses and governments to help make decisions based on the views of real humans.
Social research provides information based on a population’s:
With this information, businesses can create products and services that fulfil their social needs, and governments can create policies, laws, and/or programs that cater to the needs of the citizens. Social research also helps gain statistics on a nationwide basis, i.e., Censuses contribute to social research.
Types of Research
As with most research, there are two basic methods of research used in the field of social sciences:
- Quantitative: Quantitative research is based on the generation of numerical data that can be converted into statistics. Using this data, one can uncover patterns and formulate facts. Examples include surveys and cluster analysis.
- Qualitative: Qualitative research is used to understand motivations and opinions. It is an exploratory study used to uncover trends in thoughts and opinions, and gain a deeper understanding of issues. Examples include ethnography, case studies, and textual analysis.
As mentioned, there are various ways of collecting information for social research, including
- Online Surveys: These can be email surveys or those done on a website like Toluna or SurveyMonkey
- Offline Surveys: These can be postal/mail surveys, done over the telephone, or center surveys (e.g., talking to people in a mall or so)
- Desk Research: This is mostly done using secondary sources of information, such as public data such a published statistics or commercial data sales data
- Group discussions: Using focus groups
- In depth interviews: Done face-to-face with individuals.
It is important to understand that Social Research can’t be used to promote a product or service. The Social Research industry operates under a strict code of conduct, and cannot be used to support any kinds of decisions for a particular group of individuals.
Some of the areas Social Research caters to include:
- Crime: Focuses on understanding police-community relations and working with particular groups of offenders, in order to prevent criminal activity and for the betterment of the criminal justice process
- Education: To provide social connections, get instant feedback, and help better the education process
- Gender & Race: To understand society and how it works, it is imperative to understand gender, race, and ethnicity and its place within the community. This helps understand how policies and laws affect different people, their problems, and how to make their lives better.
- Healthcare: Involves working with key populations; as well as in schools in order to gain knowledge and understand attitudes regarding very sensitive topics dealing with sexual and reproductive health, and probing stigma and discrimination.
- Poverty: As poverty has a severe impact on health and well-being, it is very important to understand and analyze poverty on local, national, and international levels.
- Social services and its impact: In a nutshell, social research helps the effectiveness of social services and helps improve lives.
To put it simply, social research is extremely important because it helps bridge the gap between the public and the government/businesses. It is dedicated to making people’s lives better by understanding what benefits and drives them, their needs and wants, and how the government and/or businesses can help contribute to ensure the enrichment of society.
HOPE Caribbean Company Limited is a research and evaluation organization located in Jamaica, with branch offices in Trinidad and Florida. The company has been highly involved in social research since its inception in 1985, when the first AIDS/STD Baseline studies were undertaken. You can find out more about our social research studies here.