To do research that really makes a difference—the authors of this book argue—social scientists need questions and methods that reflect the complexity of the world. Bringing together a consortium of voices across a variety of fields, Methods that Matter offers compelling and successful examples of mixed methods research that do just that. In case after case, the researchers here break out of the traditional methodological silos that have long separated social science disciplines in order to better describe the intricacies of our personal and social worlds.
Historically, the largest division between social science methods has been that between quantitative and qualitative measures. For people trained in psychology or sociology, the bias has been toward the former, using surveys and experiments that yield readily comparable numerical results. For people trained in anthropology, it has been toward the latter, using ethnographic observations and interviews that offer richer nuances of meaning but are difficult to compare across societies. Discussing their own endeavors to combine the quantitative with the qualitative, the authors invite readers into a conversation about the best designs and practices of mixed methodologies to stimulate creative ideas and find new pathways of insight. The result is an engaging exploration of a promising new approach to the social sciences.