Theoretical perfectionism in social research

Date of publication: December 1, 1977


The purpose of this paper is to discuss the theme "To what extent are there techniques which are specific to market research and to what extent are there techniques specific to 'social research'? What are the similarities and what are the differences?" We do not argue that there are techniques which of necessity are specific to social or market research, but that there are certain general distinctions between the types of technique used in practice. There is a tendency towards 'theoretical perfectionism' in social research, whereas in market or 'commercial' research, the trend has been towards the most economical collection of data within certain constraints of reliability, and a greater reliance upon empiricism. We attempt to pursue these distinctions further by investigating the special features of social research, and thus the extent to which the differences in technique may be justified.

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