Social research today: some dilemmas and distinctions

Hammersley, Martyn (2003). Social research today: some dilemmas and distinctions. Qualitative Social Work, 2(1) pp. 25–44.



Difficult dilemmas face social researchers - in the field of social work and social policy, as elsewhere. These can include tensions between the following: doing what a commitment to research requires or serving policymakers; prioritizing basic inquiry or promoting applied research; having a primary concern with producing knowledge versus an immediate and urgent commitment to practical improvement in the world. These dilemmas are probably intrinsic to the position of social research in modern societies, but they are becoming more severe at the present time. It is argued that, in dealing with them, we should be clear about the distinctive character of research, as against other related activities; and must recognize its heterogeneity, identifying the dimensions that differentiate its legitimate forms.

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