A useful report on social science methodologies identifies four areas of innovation that will open up employment opportunities for applied sociologists. These methods will also help us contribute towards positive social change. The relevance to our community are as follows:
Here’s a fun read by E. W. Burgess, who was writing in 1916 about the importance of social surveys as a “constructive service by departments of sociology”:
“Indeed a case might well be made for the statement that the social survey was an invention of the sociologist. In every department of sociology in the country beginners in the science have been initiated into this method of community study.”
By Jan Ali 
Participant observation has long been an important social inquiry tool in sociological investigation of the social world and in applied sociology. It is a complex blend of methods and techniques of observation, informant interviewing, respondent interviewing, and document analysis. Researchers and social science practitioners use participant observation to gain a meaningful knowledge about the existence of a specific social world through experiencing “real” social milieus or through lived experience. The purpose of this paper is to offer a practical demonstration of the utility of participant observation as a method of social enquiry. I argue that, given the ‘religious’ nature of the Tablighi Jama’at, no other research method, whether qualitative or quantitative in nature, would have proven more useful and applicable other than participant observation. Only participant observation allowed me to enter the world’s largest Islamic revivalist movement through its Sydney group and gain an understanding about its social and cultural world – an understanding useful for sociology of religion and applied sociology.
Also, I want to argue that applied sociological research methods have the power to affect social change, including the researcher, and sociology as an academic discipline and practice needs to appreciate that ‘doing’ sociology has the power to change not only society, but ourselves as sociologists. Sociologists’ role then is not only to interpret the world but wherever warranted to change it including him or herself. In this light, this paper therefore discusses participant observation as a reflexive methodology that shows how the application of sociology can positively affect the researcher’s identity and worldview.
Data are necessary for robust social science but very expensive to collect. Current regulations limit the ability for public servants and researchers sharing their data with the public. What does the open data movement mean for applied sociologists? Here’s two brief case studies on what’s happening in the European Union and in the USA. Read more