In effect, this was a research project, and it had an implicit research question (“Do conventionally attractive white women get verbally harassed in New York?”) and produced an answer: the video. However, in doing so without any reflection on its own method, it amply demonstrates the crucial substantive and political importance of research methods.
I’ve taught “introduction to research methods” to undergraduate students for many years, and they would sometimes ask me why they should care about all this “method stuff”, besides having a required class for a sociology major out of the way. I would always tell them, without understanding research methods, you cannot understand how to judge what you see.
The Hollaback video shows us exactly why.
The Hollaback video also shows why “data” without theory can be so misleading—and how the same data can fit multiple theories. Since all data collection involves some form of data selection (even the biggest dataset has selection going into what gets included, from what source), and since data selection is always a research method, there is always a need for understanding methods.