O założeniach i potrzebie empirycznych badań nad technikami i procedurami badawczymi w socjologii
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Establishing an adequate research contact with a social reality requires body of preliminary knowledge about it. Such a knowledge should have, one hand, a very general character, i.e., it should concern the nature facts under study (ontological theses, theoretical assumptions, etc.); on p other hand, it should be also very specific and concrete, as it should inform a researcher how the reality under investigation would react to the contact with research techniques when applied to it. In other words, is the question of those aspects or characteristics of reality that are important from the point of view of applicability of available research techniques. These aspects of reality are very often irrelevant to the substantive hypotheses and theories guiding a given research; nevertheless they may predetermine what material will be gathered by means of a chosen research technique, thus influencing substantive results. The knowledge about such meta-substantive or “workshop” traits and aspects of reality under investigation serves a double function, as it constitutes a basis for two kinds of research decisions 1° those concerning the delimitation for research of a segment of the total reality, 2° those concerning the choice or/and the construction of research tools (most often it is a question of techniques designed to evoke some verbal behaviour in collectivities of respondents). A number of examples of concrete survey problems shows that the knowledge of this kind is very heterogeneous (it may concern linguistic problems, demographic structures, various specific regularities in mass as well as in interviewer behavior, etc.). The knowledge of the second kind pertains to the social conditions of applicability of interviewing and questionnaire techniques in various societies, sub-cultures, social milieus, etc. It is necessary to launch a program of empirical research aiming at the systematic cumulation of this kind of knowledge. Such a program is especially imperative when, in a given society, there start up large scale surveys conducted with the help of research techniques developed in the USA and having in the view an international comparison of results. Then, the crucial problem becomes that of the “artificiality” of research situation as well as of the degree of sincerity of answers on the part of respondents. In USA, survey techniques like interviewing and questionnaires constitute a part and parcel of the culture, as they are integrated with well crystallized social roles. Such conditions do not exist as yet in socialist and ‘'third world” countries which “import” American research techniques. In these societies the development of surveys, if they are to bring valid and reliable results, should go hand in hand with the process of acculturation of research techniques used as well as with the intra-national standardization of popular notions and opinions on the character and socio-political functions of sociological researches and their links with the power holders. When starting a research under conditions characterized by a lack of the full acculturation of interviewing and questionnaire techniques, it becomes necessary to choose the most suitable and genuine method of arranging the roles for participants in research situation, i.e. for respondents and interviewers. Such a method should, at the starting point, take into account the existing expectations, experiences, stereotypes and knowledge on the part of the studied population; it should also make allowance for the current popular notion of science and its aims. There are two ways of introducing, into the unprepared social milieu, of interviews or fill-in questionnaires: 1° – a researcher avails himself of the existing, i.e. well known and familiar to his subjects, pattern of social roles, by inserting into it an interview (a “talk”) or fill-in questionnaire (This would be exemplified by a role of a teacher-interviewer who talks with the parents of schoolchildren about the choice of professional career); 2° – the researcher makes his subjects assimilate the new role of informants, i.e. of participants in a scientific research. This requires, however, a longer initiatory action based on the previous field reconnaissance devoted specially to this problem. The answers obtained in a research should be treated as a correlate; of the cristallized pattern of two complementary roles: the one for a researcher (interviewer) and the other for the subject (respondent). Such a role pattern determines least strongly the content of answers expressing only the information level of respondents; it determines more strongly the answers concerning occurrence or non-occurrence of the acts of respondents’ own behavior or of those of in-group members; and finally, it determines to the highest degree the answers being the expression of value judgements and opinions. Opinions and attitudes are functionally connected with a given group situation so that it is normal to express sincerely two contradictory opinions in two corresponding different situations, viz. within two different role patterns. Such an ambivalence, inherent in attitudes and opinions is a phenomenon characteristics of the conditions of rapid social changes, tinder which there coexist two or more different value systems; this is especially the case when there is a sharp division between the private and official sphere of opinion and action, as in socialist countries. The relation between private and official opinions in the same person was investigated in Poland by means of a special technique consisting in the repetition of interviews in two differing social situations. An author of any field research always constructs, more or less consciously, a certain imaginary model of the respondents’ behavior in his research. But the actual behavior always deviates, to some degree, from what such a model presupposes. To assess empirically the scope of contingency between a model and an actual behavior evoked by means of interviewing or questionnaire techniques, it is necessary to obtain systematic; reports prepared by interviewers about the total reactions of respondents to interviewing situations that arise in the field. This would permit to make adjustments in research techniques so as to make them reach model expectations, thus enlarging the scope of validity of such techniques. The existing conceptualizations of situational factors and the sources of bias in interviewing are too schematic because they treat of an interview or a fill-in questionnaire merely from the viewpoint of psychology of communication, at the same time prescinding from the culturally determined social roles in whose framework the research process takes place. The present collection contains the works being an attempt to apply a more comprehensive conceptual scheme to empirical investigations on the factors involved in various research situations.