The Craft of Inquiry: Theories, Methods, Evidence by Robert R. AlfordThe Craft of Inquiry: Theories, Methods, Evidence by Robert R. Alford

The Craft of Inquiry: Theories, Methods, Evidence

byRobert R. Alford

Paperback | February 1, 1998

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Sociology is a challenging discipline, ripe with exciting possibilities. It offers sociologists the chance to choose multiple theoretical and methodological traditions that offer a full range of important questions and ways to answer them. A long standing complaint of many sociologyprofessors, however, is that their students seem to have difficulty moving from problem formation to a theoretical approach and then onto an appropriate research design. In his provocative new book, Robert Alford proposes that the starting point for any researcher in the process and craft of inquiry should begin with an understanding of how to translate elements of his/her own history, personal experience, and issues, which can then be formulated into researchquestions. Alford presents three basic explanatory approaches to sociology -- multivariate, interpretive, and historical -- as well as examples of each from such luminaries as Durkheim, Goffman, Weber, Marx, and William Julius Wilson. Upon critical examination, Alford finds each of these threeapproaches either oversimplified or incomplete. To fill this gap, Alford proposes a tripartite approach that examines each approach through the lens of the other two and analyzes the ways these three models of explanation work and relate to one another. The text is intended to show students howresearch emerges from, and interacts with, theory. It is designed to help students formulate, reformulate, and pursue their own theoretically informed research, as well as provide them with the tools necessary for critically reading the research of others. Using selected examples from both classicand contemporary studies, Alford strives to illustrate the artistic, rather than formulaic, side of research design and presents several ways that research questions can be framed. He also offers a "working vocabulary" to guide novice researchers through the maze of the process. Full of direct,lucid, and informative accounts of actual research efforts, The Craft of Inquiry is engaging and important reading for any student interested in developing strong, effective social research skills, and in becoming a better artist of the craft of inquiry.
Robert R. Alford is at City University of New York, Graduate Center.
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Title:The Craft of Inquiry: Theories, Methods, EvidenceFormat:PaperbackDimensions:176 pages, 6.1 × 9.09 × 0.59 inPublished:February 1, 1998Publisher:Oxford University Press

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0195119037

ISBN - 13:9780195119039

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Table of Contents

Introduction1. The Craft of Inquiry2. Designing a Research Project3. The Construction of Arguments4. Foreground Multivariate Arguments5. Foreground Interpretive Arguments6. Foreground Historical Arguments7. The Theoretical Power of Multiple Paradigma8. Dialectical Explanations and the Sociological ImaginationNotes, Selected Readings, Index

Editorial Reviews

"Most of us struggle with how to formulate sociological questions and then how to revise and reformulate projects once they are launched. The attempt by Professor Alford to codify the process of doing research will be a major contribution to the discipline. During the past few years, he hasbeen 'testing' out parts of his book at workshops for graduate students at various universities here and abroad. Workshop participants wrote to say that Professor Alford's ideas have greatly enhanced their ability to move forward with their projects. Few graduate professors have the kinds of impactthat Professor Alford consistently has given his students." --Rosanna Hertz, Wellesley College