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January 5, 2015 / C H Thompson

The comparative method

The comparative method is where the researcher collects data about different social groups (eg working-class; middle-class and upper-class) and then compares one group with another to identify what is evident in one group but not another.

Therefore using the example of social-class a researcher might want to compare the amount of short-term loans – such as Wonga loans, one social-class has compared with another.

The principles behind such a method come from positivists who try to isolate the and identify the cause of social events and behaviour. Durkheim’s study on suicide was an example of the comparative method. By comparing official statistics between various societies he argued he was able to identify what was evident in one society and not in another which might cause suicide.


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