Critically examine the scope of survey method in social science research.

Survey method :-

Survey method, one of the quantitative methods is a method of obtaining information from a given population for a specific purpose. Rather than gathering information form each and every individual, survey research draws a representative part of total population and collects information from it. There are various techniques and procedures available to draw the sample out of the total population to make it adequate and representative. Through survey method, we can obtain information from a considerably large population in a comprehensive manner. This method is useful to know about macro phenomenon such as the extent and nature of poverty etc.

Scope of survey method :-

Though survey research has gained much importance in the modern world, it was one of the important research methods in the past too. Ancient rulers used to apply survey method to know the situations in their kingdoms and to assess their policies. With the growing importance for information in the contemporary society, there is a lot of scope for survey research method.

With the technological advancement, the flow of information has become an important aspect of the contemporary world. This is the reason, the present world is described as the ‘Information Society’. Thereby surveys have become part and parcel of the present world. The production and distribution of information became an important sector in the economic system. Survey is an industry in the modern world.

Survey research is relatively inexpensive, and has a different ways of administering the research to choose from. Based on the researcher’s requirements and limitations, she can conduct face to face interviews, email interviews etc.

It has become very common for producers to check the demand for their products, before the production. For this, they conduct surveys and plan the production accordingly. Markets are increasingly depending on the flow of information. Political parties, government departments also became important clients of survey agencies. Many survey agencies have firmed their presence in the modern world, indicating the scope of survey research.

Limitations :-

Survey research is  typically carried out the with the help of standardized questionnaire. So the questions end up in very general terms and it misses what may be most appropriate to the respondents. And the questionnaire should remain unchanged throughout the research, which makes survey method inflexible.

Survey research is context blind. The answers from the respondents vary based on the context. Survey method assumes total honesty from the participants, which is another limitation.

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