Throughout my time studying sociology I have frequently come across the topic of qualitative and quantitative research (which is inevitable because having knowledge of methods is the basis of any research!). However, I found it quite a task to distinguish between the two no matter how many times I studied them, simply because there is so much to remember (and with big words like positivism, deduction, epistemology, phenomenology etc. my head just starts spinning…). But, I have found a cure! Ok, so it’s not a cure…but it has massively helped me! By reading chapter 5 of Brymans book Quantity and Quality in Social Research I finally understand, and more importantly can explain, the difference between quantitative and qualitative research and data. This chapter sets out the differences through themes, such as ‘research strategy’, ‘theory and concepts’ and ‘relationship between researcher and subject’. For me I really like to have different headings because I find it makes the information easier to understand. I have read multiple books where the difference between the two are explained in long paragraphs which keep repeating information. This becomes confusing very quickly! I just found this book really allowed for an easy read.
But I will add this : don’t assume that quantitative and qualitative research and data are simply meant to different and that you can only use one type of research in a study. As you will find out when you do a research methods module at university, the two are linked. Quantitative data tells us qualitative things, like how common or rare something is, or whether something is frequent or infrequent. Furthermore, quantities are influenced by qualities, for example our choice to religious and which religious group to be part of is influenced by our family’s religious stance, our age, our life events etc.
I hope I have helped make things a little bit clearer!