You know you’re a nerd when you find the method termed “grounded theory,” and start writing down scribbles as if you were the John Nash in A Beautiful Mind.
Grounded theory is about accumulating qualitative data like interviews, finding emergent patterns from that data, and letting literature formulate around the meaning of those patterns. The research starts with “a topic,” not a precise method of quantitative analysis. This is how, I feel, systemic problems can be tackled.
Because life is messy, we cannot expect an exact formula or equation to provide us with a clean and exact answer. Fear of not knowing how to push an issue (like gentrification, access to healthcare, perspectives on abortion) through an analytical cheese grader too, prevents us from trying to ever understand them AT ALL.