Studio Generale: Sociology Day

10.02.2012, 15:51
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Thursday’s Studio Generale session was devoted to sociology and its statistical and research aspects. Ella Paneyakh from the European University in St. Petersburg and Aleksey Levinson from the Levada centre talked to the students about research methods and ways to interpret collected data.

According to Ella Peneyakh, social science is trying to figure out what holds the society together, how people are connected and why they keep being together. The social structure is people, their places in society and the connections between them.

There are many ways to interpret collected data. Therefore, there can be discrepancies in the results given by state agencies and private agencies. In Russia, for example, when you deal with law enforcements, the data doesn’t reflect the reality of the crime situation, but rather displays the importance of the number of reports collected by the low-level police workers. If a certain number of annual reports are not submitted, policemen are punished, so the fact that the crime decreased becomes irrelevant.

Aleksey Levinson talked about the basic principles of qualitative research, focusing on the example of recent protests. Qualitative research is a method of inquiry employed in many different academic disciplines, traditionally in the social sciences, but also in market research. Qualitative researchers aim at gathering an in-depth understanding of human behavior.