Longitudinal studies/case studies & pluralist Methods

Longitudinal studies are fascinating but very costly. They follow a cohort over a period of time and track the development. They often use a variety of methods, both primary and secondary, and both positivist and interpretivist. This means these studies although they may lack generalisability they have great strengths in validity and can be very insightful

Below are a few examples of some of the most interesting longitudinal studies.

Another form of in-depth study is a case study. Case studies are usually characterised  by a small sample that is study intently using a range of methods.  An example fo a case study we will use is Paul Willis – Learning to labour.

Case studies often involve life histories research, in-depth interviews with participants who talk about their lives and speculate what external and internal influences may have shaped their identity.

Most sociologist researching today often take a combined approach to research. This means they will use both positivist method and interpretivists this is referred to as methodology pluralism. Taking a pluralistic methodology approach allows for triangulation of results. For example we can back up qualitative data with quantitative analysis. This allows for ensuring reliability and validity which are the two concepts which really define good research. There is a disntict difference between triangulation and pluralist research, the follow video sums it up well.

Key words

Longitudinal.   Cohort.   Case studies.   Life Histories.   Paul Willis.  Methodological pluralism.  Triangulation.