Unit of analysis
Mar 10, · Unit of Analysis One of the most important ideas in a research project is the unit of analysis. The unit of analysis is the major entity that you are analyzing in your study. For instance, any of the following could be a unit of analysis in a study. Your unit of analysis is the “who” or the “what” that you are analyzing for your study. Your unit of analysis could be an individual student, a group, or even an entire program. It is important to understand that your unit of analysis is not the same as your unit of observation. It .
Units of analysis are the objects of study within a research project. In sociology, the most common units of analysis are individuals, groups, social interactions, organizations and institutions, and social and cultural artifacts.
In many cases, a research project can require multiple units of analysis. Identifying your units of analysis is an important part of the research process. Once you have identified a research question, you will have to select your units of analysis as part of the process of deciding on a research method and how you will operationalize that method.
Let's review the most common units of analysis and why a researcher might choose to study them. Individuals are the most common units of analysis within sociological research. This is the case because the core problem of sociology is understanding the relationships between individuals and society, so we routinely turn to studies composed of individual people in order to refine our understanding of the ties that bind individuals together into a society. Taken together, information about individuals and their personal experiences can reveal patterns and trends that are common to a society or particular groups within it, and can provide insight into social problems and their solutions.
For example, researchers at the University of California-San Francisco found through interviews with individual women who have had abortions that the vast majority of women do not ever regret the choice to terminate the pregnancy. Their findings prove that a common right-wing argument against access to abortion--that women will suffer undue emotional distress and regret if they have an abortion--is based on myth rather than fact.
Sociologists are keenly what are milkshakes made of in social ties and relationships, which means that they what is a gravatar image study groups of people, be they large or small. Groups can be anything from romantic couples to families, to people who fall into particular racial or gender categories, to friend groups, to whole generations of people think Millennials and all the attention they get from social scientists.
By studying groups sociologists can reveal how social structure and forces affect whole categories of people on the basis of race, class, or gender, for example. Sociologists have done this in pursuit of understanding a wide range of social phenomena and problems, like for example this study that proved that living in a racist place leads to Black people having worse health outcomes than white people; or this study that examined the gender gap across different nations to find out which are better or worse at advancing and protecting the rights of women and girls.
Organizations differ from groups in that they are considered more formal and, well, organized ways of collecting people together around specific goals and norms. Organizations take many forms, including corporations, religious congregations and whole systems like how to cook caramel popcorn Catholic Church, judicial systems, police departments, and social movements, for example.
Sociologists who study organizations might also be interested in comparing different examples of similar organizations to reveal the nuanced ways in which they operate, and the values and norms that shape those operations. Sociologists know that we can learn a lot about our society what company has a grey hr logo ourselves by studying the things that we create, which is why many of us cultural artifacts.
Cultural what is vitamin k deficiency are all the things that are created by humans, including the built environment, furniture, technological devices, clothing, art and music, advertising and language--the list is truly endless. Sociologists who study cultural artifacts might be interested in understanding what a new trend in clothing, art, or music reveals about the contemporary values and norms of the society that produces it and those who consume it, or they might be interested in understanding how advertising might impact norms and behavior, especially in terms of gender and sexuality, which has long been fertile ground for social science research.
Social interactions also take a wide variety of forms and can include anything from making eye contact with strangers in public, purchasing items in a store, conversations, engaging in activities together, to formalized interactions like weddings and divorces, hearings, or court cases.
Sociologists who study social interactions might be interested in understanding how larger social structures and forces shape how we behave and interact on a daily basis, or how they shape traditions like Black Friday shopping or weddings. They might also be interested in understanding how social order is maintained. Research has shown that this is done in part by intentionally ignoring each other in crowded public spaces.
Share Flipboard Email. Table of Contents Expand. Cultural Artifacts. Social Interactions. Nicki Lisa Cole, Ph. Sociology Expert. Nicki Lisa Cole is a sociologist. Updated March 24, Cite this Article Format. Cole, Nicki Lisa, Ph. Units of Analysis as Related to Sociology. Understanding the Sociological Perspective. The Major Theoretical Perspectives of Sociology. What's the Relationship Between Sports and Society?
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Nov 26, · The provider is the unit of analysis, since it is his/her behavior that we want to learn about. The unit of observation is the source of data that describes your unit of analysis. In the diagram below, there are four levels of possible observation and analysis – the individual, the provider, . Oct 03, · The unit of analysis refers to the main parameter that you’re investigating in your research project or study. Example of the different types . Oct 12, · The unit of analysis refers to the person, collective, or object that is the target of the investigation. Typical unit of analysis include individuals, groups, organizations, countries, technologies, objects, and such.
The unit of analysis may not be defined by the content per se but rather by a characteristic of the content originator e. Deciding on the unit of analysis is a very important decision because it guides the development of codes as well as the coding process. If a weak unit of analysis is chosen, one of two outcomes may result: 1 If the unit chosen is too precise i. An example of a too-precise unit of analysis might be small elements of content such as individual words.
An example of a too-imprecise unit of analysis might be the entire set of diaries written by 25 participants in an IDI research study, or all the comments made by teenagers on an online support forum. Although there is no perfect prescription for every study, it is generally understood that researchers should strive for a unit of analysis that retains the context necessary to derive meaning from the data.
For this reason, and if all other things are equal, the qualitative researcher should probably err on the side of using a broader, more contextually based unit of analysis rather than a narrowly focused level of analysis e. This does not mean that supra-macro-level units, such as the entire set of transcripts from an IDI study, are appropriate; and, to the contrary, these very imprecise units, which will obscure meanings and nuances at the individual level, should be avoided.
It does mean, however, that units of analysis defined as the entirety of a research interview or focus group discussion are more likely to provide the researcher with contextual entities by which reasonable and valid meanings can be obtained and analyzed across all cases. In the end, the researcher needs to consider the particular circumstances of the study and define the unit of analysis keeping in mind that broad, contextually rich units of analysis — maintained throughout coding, category and theme development, and interpretation — are crucial to deriving meaning in qualitative data and ensuring the integrity of research outcomes.
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