Social science and participation
Social science and participation

Start this free course now. Just create an account and sign in. Enrol and complete the course for a free statement of participation or digital badge if available.

Free course

Social science and participation

Participating in social science

You have already seen some of the different activities through which people join in with others to pursue their interests, to make demands on others and to share in the benefits of social life.

In this section, we will look at how social scientists interact with their research participants – those people undertaking everyday activities who are the focus of social science investigation and the source of social science data. These are the people who are counted by social scientists, interviewed, observed, explained and interpreted, and informed and shaped. Social science interacts with people to study what they are doing, how and why, and also what they think about things.

There are various ways in which social science investigation depends on the participation of people in research to generate data and evidence, and to inform understandings. Table 1 summarises some of the forms of participation in social science methodologies that social scientists make use of.

Table 1 Forms of participation in social science methodologies

Social science methodForm of participation
ExperimentsTaking part in psychology experiments
SurveysAnswering survey questions and completing questionnaires
Focus groupsTaking part in discussion groups
Qualitative interviews Answering interview questions
Ethnographic observation Interacting with social scientists, being observed
Quantitative measurementBeing counted

Without people participating in these ways, social science would not be possible to begin with.

DD206_1

Take your learning further

Making the decision to study can be a big step, which is why you'll want a trusted University. The Open University has 50 years’ experience delivering flexible learning and 170,000 students are studying with us right now. Take a look at all Open University courses.

If you are new to University-level study, we offer two introductory routes to our qualifications. You could either choose to start with an Access module, or a module which allows you to count your previous learning towards an Open University qualification. Read our guide on Where to take your learning next for more information.

Not ready for formal University study? Then browse over 1000 free courses on OpenLearn and sign up to our newsletter to hear about new free courses as they are released.

Every year, thousands of students decide to study with The Open University. With over 120 qualifications, we’ve got the right course for you.

Request an Open University prospectus371