This article throws light on the five major objectives of social research, i.e,(1) Manipulation of Things, Concepts and Symbols, (2) Generalization, (3) Verification of Old Facts, (4) Extension of Knowledge, and (5) Knowledge May be Used for Theory Building or Practical Application.
While, dealing with things the scientist remains at the concrete level. He is able to purposefully handle things for experimentation. But at this level his results are at best limited to the particular thing in a specific situation and none else. Therefore the concepts symbolizing the things and their properties are also dealt with, so as to make much sense to conduct controlled inquiries through abstract notions. Use of concepts or symbols in the process of manipulation not only reduces the content and load of the things but also provides the scientist with greater facility and effect.
The sole purpose with which manipulation of things, concepts or symbols is undertaken is to arrive at statements of generality. It implies that the findings of controlled investigation should be a conclusion which will enable us to expect that under certain class of conditions influencing a class of things, something will happen in a generalized manner, notwithstanding its degree.
But in any case the absence is generality cannot characterize science. Therefore the propositions derived on the basis of observations and through manipulation of things, concepts or symbols may vary in their levels of generality, may maintain a high or low degree but should never reach the null point.
Otherwise those will move beyond the framework of science. In this regard, Slesinger and Stepheson have given the example of a physician or automobile mechanic as playing the role of a researcher. Whereas the automobile mechanic endeavors to generalize about the automobiles, the physician attempts to make ailments for a given class of patients.
A major purpose of social research is verification of conclusions which have already been accepted as established facts. Since there is no place for complacency in the arena of science, the established system of knowledge always warrant frequentative scrutiny so as to confirm whether or not the observations are in accordance with the predictions made on the basis of the established corpus of knowledge. In case it is confirmed, the empirical observation strengthens the established system of knowledge. Otherwise in the light of the research outcome, the system of established corpus of knowledge calls for revision or even rejection.
As a sequel to generalization the seemingly inconsistencies in the existing corpus of knowledge are brought into light and attempts are made to reconcile these inconsistencies. The new general proposition, established as an outcome of research also identifies gaps in the established system of knowledge. A gap in knowledge implies the inadequacy of the theory as well as the failure of a conceptual scheme to explain and account for certain aspects of a social phenomenon.
The gap is bridged up in the light of the new empirical observations. Thus knowledge gets expanded. The expansion of systematic knowledge occurs at least in a couple of ways. First in cognizing certain aspects of phenomena which were not examined in these terms prior to the advent of the new general proposition.
Secondly in the light of new observation, the phenomena under investigation may be incorporated in a comparatively large class of phenomena, so as to be governed by a uniform law. As a result, the new system of knowledge not only accumulates more units under its conceptual scheme, but also appreciates greater depth of understanding and bettering of predictions.
By seeking to explain the unexplained social phenomena, clarifying the doubtful one and correcting the misconceived facts relating to it, social research provides the scope to use the fruits of research in two possible ways:
(a) Theory building
(b) Practical application.
In its basic or pure form social research gathers knowledge for the sake of it, for building a theory in order to explain human behaviour in its totality, only for the satisfaction of knowing. For construction of theoretic models, the researcher organizes knowledge into propositions and then meaningfully articulated those propositions to constitute a more abstract conceptual system pertaining to a class of phenomena, influenced by a certain class of conditions.
In its practical or applied form, social research gathers information regarding the betterment of quality of life in social settings. The findings of social research are used as the means to an end, not construed just as an end in itself From its utilitarian point of view the results of social research provide decision makers with proper guidelines for policy making, social welfare, amelioration of practical problems, mitigation or resolution of social conflict and tensions as well as rectification and removal of social evils.