International Social Research Methods

Framework Part 2 Key Search Terms

This part of the framework presents a non-exhaustive list of the key terms that will be available for searching the on-line database of International Social Research Methods Case Studies. Authors should select the most relevant terms (one or more from each section) for their projects and add others that they think would be helpful for users of the database. The terms selected should be listed at the beginning of the case study under the relevant headwords.






Download the following table in Word format

2.1  DisciplinesBack to the top

anthropology, area studies, business & administration, communication sciences, demography, development studies, economics, education, environmental sciences, epidemiology, gender studies, history, human geography, international relations, law and criminology, linguistics, philosophy, political economy, political science, psychology, social pedagogy, social policy, social work, sociology, sociology of religion, sports science

2.2 Topics/ThemesBack to the top

civic and political participation, human rights, non-governmental organisations, NGOs

cultural life

arts food practices identity leisure media religion sports value and belief systems


consumption globalisation markets organisational change productivity public debt recession trade


curriculum development, evaluation , lifelong learning, management , training


climate change, sustainability, transport


electoral systems, ideology, political parties, regulation, trades unions, voting patterns, welfare regimes ,welfare states


addictionsm, alcohol use and misuse, diet and nutrition, dignified dying, disability, drug use and misuse, general practice, hospitals, palliative care, physical activity, prevention,risk and safety, substance use and misuse, treatment, well-being


communications, internet use, intersectionality, networking, relationships


benefits systems , delivery, health and social care, implementation, policy development , policy provision , poverty, professional practice, public / private sector, social exclusion/inclusion, social housing, social justice, social security, social services, welfare reform

socio-demographic processes

children, childhood, consumption, demographic trends, family–employment reconciliation, family structure, fatherhood, gender relations and roles, integration, intergenerational relations and transfers, life course, life–work balance, migration, mobility, motherhood, parenting, population ageing, social deprivation, social mobility, social transitions, young people / youth

working life

domestic / household labour, employer / employee flexibility, employment, unemployment, work organisation, working parents, working time

2.3 Units of comparisonBack to the top

central / regional / local government , companies / enterprises, labour administration, non-governmental organisations, NGOs organisations

cultural units

artistic, leisure and sporting activities / facilities / groups, educational institutions, citizenship / faith / religious groups, media and communication networks and products, youth cultures (gangs)

demographic units

age groups, ethnic groups, families, fathers, gender, generations, households, life course, migrants, mothers, social classes, socio-economic groups

economic systems

agricultural, industrial and tertiary sectors, financial institutions, labour markets, trades unions


job seekers, labour markets, occupational mobility, occupational structures, pay structures, professions, public / private sector employers, unemployment, working time regimes

legal institutions

courts, legal status and systems, prisons, rights

political institutions

ideological groupings, interest and pressure groups, members of organisations, political parties , policy actors, policy networks

social protection systems

benefit categories (disabled, retired, unemployed) , practitioners, service providers (education and training, health, housing, social care),social policies, welfare professionals

spatial units

cities, communities, continents , countries, ecological systems, EU member states, regions, rural areas, towns, villages

spatial units

cities, communities, continents , countries, ecological systems, regions, rural areas, towns, villages

2.4 ConceptsBack to the top

education, identity, internet use, lifelong learning, social networking, spirituality


agency, bureaucracy, civic and political participation and engagement, empowerment, leadership, legal recognition, participation, rights, transnationalism

socio-demographic processes

ageing (biological / population, healthy), caring, childhood, distribution of household labour, family, fathering, fertility, gender, generation, grandparenting, household, life course, marriage, mothering, negotiation, parenting / parenthood, partnerships, step-parenting, transitions, youth


connectedness, equity, ethnicity, identity, individualisation of rights, inequality, integration, intergenerational solidarity, social exclusion, social inclusion, social status, well-being


care, poverty, religious welfare provision, social solidarity, stigma, take up, welfare dependency


domestic labour, educational attainment, flexibility, informal economy, labour market concentration and segregation, management, reconciliation of paid and unpaid work, work–life balance, workplace, time banks

2.5 FundingBack to the top
European organisations

European Commission: Framework Programmes, Policy Directorates-General, Eurostat

International organisations

International Labour Organisation, ILO, Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, OECD, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation, Unesco, World Health Organisation, WHO

National government agencies
National government departments
National research agencies
Non-Governmental Organisations
2.6 Theoretical underpinningsBack to the top

critical realism, culturalism, interpretivism, particularism, phenomenology, positivism, post positivism, post structuralism, grounded theory, psycho-social theory, queer theory , social constructionism, universalism

2.7 Methodological approaches and methods Back to the top
case studies

embedded case studies, randomised experiments

comparative methods
documentary searches

content analysis, diaries, discourse analysis, literature reviews, project evaluation

mixed / combination methods
qualitative approaches

biographical / biographic–interpretative methods, Computer-Assisted Personal Interviewing (CAPI), ethnographic methods, focus groups, in-depth interviews, narrative method, oral history, Paper-Assisted Personal Interviewing (PAPI), participant observation, policy analysis, secondary analysis of interview data, semi-structured interviews, vignettes, visual methods

quantitative approaches

multi-level modelling, secondary analysis, statistical analyses

social surveys

cohort studies, cross-sectional surveys, longitudinal studies, panel studies, random stratified sampling

2.8 Methodological issues Back to the top

bias (cultural, interviewer) , case selection, causality, comparability, contextualisation, explanation, generalisation, inference, interpretation, measurement equivalence (conceptual, functional, meaning), missing data, recruitment and retention of respondents, reflexivity, reliability, research cultures, representativeness, response rates and attrition, rigour, sampling, statistical generalisation, translation and back translation, transparency, universality (generalisation) vs particularity, validity