Flying Aeroplanes and Other Sociological Tales is an introductory textbook for students wishing to learn about sociology and social research methods. Each of the short tales, told by a sociologist, introduces topics and research methods using an engaging storyline. The opening story narrates how the sociologist uses participant observation to understand the work of a commercial pilot, and how he feels about autopilot systems replacing his job of flying aeroplanes. Other tales feature topics such as education, health, crime, and gender. There is also a chapter on ‘lockdown’ during the Covid-19 pandemic. One main feature of the book is the ‘back door’ approach to teaching research methods, with chapters dedicated to exploring statistics, sampling, visual methods, documents, embodied methods, autoethnographic research and ethics. Traditional textbooks in sociology focus on what novice sociologists should do, but few, if any, comprehensively deal with overcoming problems as they might emerge and explain what to do when things go wrong. The sociological tales written in this book provide examples of when field access is denied, research participants refuse to take part, and when recording equipment has broken down. Each tale raises issues and problems for the sociologist to overcome, such as research design flaws, sampling bias, lack of rapport with research participants, and the problems with breaking ethical codes of conduct. The book provides insight into the role of the sociologist, why sociology matters, and what happens when sociology fails us. Flying Aeroplanes and Other Sociological Tales introduces a unique approach to teaching sociology and social research methods.

chapter Chapter 1|16 pages

Introducing sociological tales

chapter Chapter 2|17 pages

Flying aeroplanes

chapter Chapter 3|18 pages

The doctor and the patient-sociologist

chapter Chapter 4|16 pages

The sociologist and the stolen bicycle

chapter Chapter 5|17 pages

Class, capital, and the Cambridge University interview

chapter Chapter 8|15 pages

Loneliness in London and sampling bias in sociology

chapter Chapter 10|16 pages

Reflections of an imperfect sociologist