An End to the Crisis of Empirical Sociology?: Trends and Challenges in Social Research, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

An End to the Crisis of Empirical Sociology?

Trends and Challenges in Social Research, 1st Edition

Edited by Linda McKie, Louise Ryan


200 pages | 10 B/W Illus.

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Research data are everywhere. In our everyday interactions, through social media, credit cards and even public transport, we generate and use data. The challenge for sociologists is how to collect, analyse and make best use of these vast arrays of information.

  • The chapters in this book address these challenges using varied perspectives and approaches:
  • The economics of big data and measuring the trajectories of recently arrived communities
  • Social media and social research
  • Researching 'elites', social class and 'race' across space and place
  • Innovations in qualitative research and use of extended case studies
  • Developing mixed method approaches and social network analysis
  • Feminist quantitative methodology
  • Teaching quantitative methods

The book provides up to date and accessible material of interest to diverse audiences, including students and teachers of research design and methods, as well as policy analysis and social media.


"Periodic reflection on where we are and where we might be heading is useful. Linda Mckie and Louise Ryan’s book treats this as an urgent task for sociological researchers, mindful too of the past… There is much here to hearten sociologists anxious about the discipline’s prospects"

Graham Crow, University of Edinburgh, Network

Table of Contents

Introduction, Linda McKie and Louise Ryan Part I: Big Data, Big Issues 1. Big Data Economies and Ecologies, Evelyn Ruppert2.Minority Communities in Britain: Pathways to success as revealed by big data, Richard Webber and Trevor Phillips 3. Digging Deeper: Big data, elites and investigative research, David Miller and William Dinan 4. ‘Studying Up’ in the Era of Big Data, Roger Burrows 5. Critically Engaging with Social Media Research Methods, Dhiraj Murthy Part II: Mixing Methods: Research and teaching 6. Explanation and Empirical Social Research: Getting beyond description whilst still making it interesting!, David Byrne 7. Towards a Quantitative Feminist Methodology: The Possibilities of a methodological oxymoron, Rachel Cohen 8. Beyond the Interview: Ethnicity/‘Race’ in sociological research, Annabel Tremlett and Roxy Harris 9. Social Network Analysis: A mixed method approach, Alessio D’Angelo and Louise Ryan 10. Making Sociology Count: Some evidence and context in the teaching of quantitative methods in the UK, Malcolm Williams, Geoff Payne and Luke Sloane Epilogue: From the ‘Coming Crisis’ to the ‘Green Shoots of Recovery’?, Mike Savage

About the Editors

Linda McKie is Professor of Sociology and Head of the School of Applied Social Sciences, Durham University. She is the author of over 120 publications on research methods, care, gender, work and families, and health. Recent research has considered working life among low paid, women, female middle managers and senior women opting out of corporate employment. Linda’s research is also considering veterans families and transitions into civilian life. Recent theoretical work has explored the use of biographical matching and focus groups as well as revisions to the analytical framework caringscapes, which she developed with colleagues in the 1990s. Her most recent publications include McKie et al. (2013) "The Best Time is Now!": The Temporal and Spatial Dynamics of Women Opting in to Self-Employment, Gender, Work and Organization, 20, 2, 184-196 and Biese and McKie (2015) Opting in: Women in search of well-being in Connerley and Wu (eds) The Handbook on Well-Being of Working Women. New York: Springer Press.

Louise Ryan is Professor of Sociology and Co-Director of the Social Policy Research Centre at Middlesex University ( She has published extensively on migration and social networks, ethnicity, religion, gender and research methods. Louise's work has appeared in international journals such as Sociology, Sociological Review, Global Networks, Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies and International Migration. She has co-edited (with Wendy Webster) Gendering Migration: masculinity, femininity and ethnicity in post-war Britain (Ashgate, 2008). Louise has held several research grants from the Economic and Social Research Council, as well as leading projects commissioned by charitable organisations, local authorities and government departments. She is currently working on a large EU-funded, Framework 7 project, on Researching Early School Leaving (with D’Angelo). Her most recent book is Migrant Capital: Networks, Identities and Strategies (editors Louise Ryan, Umut Erel and Alessio D'Angelo) Palgrave, 2015.

About the Series

Sociological Futures

Sociological Futures aims to be a flagship for new and innovative theories, methods and approaches to sociological issues and debates and ‘the social’ in the 21st century. This series of monographs and edited collections was inspired by vibrant wealth of BSA symposia on a wide variety of sociological themes. Edited by a team of experienced sociological researchers, and supported by the BSA, it covers a wide range of topics related to sociology and sociological research and will feature contemporary work that is theoretically and methodologically innovative, has local or global reach, as well as work that engages or reengages with classic debates in sociology bringing new perspectives to important and relevant topics.

The BSA is the professional association for sociologists and sociological research in the United Kingdom, with its extensive network of members, study groups and forums, and its dynamic programme of events. The Association engages with topics ranging from auto/biography to youth, climate change to violence against women, alcohol to sport, and Bourdieu to Weber. This book series represents the fruits of sociological enquiry, reaching a global audience, and offering a publication outlet for sociologists at all career and publishing stages, from the well-established to emerging sociologists, BSA or non-BSA members, from all parts of the world.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Sociology / General