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As Research methods, sociology

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Sociological research
Sociological research
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As Research methods, sociology

  1. 1. RESEARCH METHODS Sociology
  2. 2. WHY DO SOCIOLOGISTS DO RESEARCH? o To improve their studies. o Get a basis of their methods. o To improve their hypothesis. o To gain knowledge around the topic they study. o To get other views. o To collect data.
  3. 3. INTRODUCTION TO SOCIAL RESEARCH o The aim of sociological research is to move from subjective to more objective. Knowledge of something: Subjective knowledge  objective knowledge Reliability concerns: o Consistency of the data collected. o The precision with which it is collected. o The repeatability of the data collection method.
  4. 4. KEY WORDS o Method: something is more reliable if it can easily be repeated. o Data: is reliable if the same result can be gained by others. o Validity: the extent to which the collected research data represents what it claims to represent. (valid data involves; depth, detail and a well-rounded picture of whatever is being researched.) o Reliability: when other sociologists can gain the same results. o Validity: when the data gives a clear picture of what is being measured. o Generalizability: when results can be applied to a wider section of a society. o Operationalization of concepts: when the measurement of concepts are made specific by the researcher. o Objectivity: looks simply at the facts. o Subjectivity: based on researchers opinions.
  5. 5. REPRESENTATIVENESS Representativeness: whether the results of the research can be generalised to wider populations. • Sampling, is representative if the characteristics of the sample group reflect the characteristics of the target population. • Demographic data, is representative if the data collected is comprehensive. • Case studies, can be representative if they are typical of the group or institution being researched. Sample: a segment of the target population being studied.
  6. 6. QUANTATIVE AND QUALITATIVE DATA Quantitative: included statistical data, that is very reliable and doesn’t include subjective language. Qualitative: stories, meanings and opinions, that isn't always reliable but is valid.
  7. 7. PRIMARY METHODS (SELF CREATED RESEARCH) • Questionnaires • Interviews • Observations • Surveys • Case studies • Experiments • Ethnographic studies • Longitudinal studies. • Primary research: new original and conducted by yourself. Its valid, reliable, expensive and time consuming. • Secondary research: exciting data. You have to be able to trust it but its a lot cheaper and quicker. (these methods can be combined for extra valid and reliable results)
  8. 8. QUESTIONNAIRES • Contain open and closed questions written down and passed around to a variety of people, or a target group of people to gain feedback and statistics. • Generally questionnaire data is from closed questions. • They have high reliability. • They are however less useful for collecting qualitative data. • As a method it is seen as lower in validity, compared to unstructured interviews or observations. Likert scale: a scale 1-5 or 1-10 on how strongly you feel about a certain topic. • These are good for numerical answers (quantitative data) Open ended questions: an answer that can be an opinion of a topic.(qualitative data)
  9. 9. QUESTIONNAIRES advantages disadvantages You can collect both types of data. Its harder to collect in depth quantitative data It is reliable Answers and limited. Ranking of questionnaires reliability 4 validity 2 geralisability 4 representativeness 1 operationalization 2 objectivity 3 subjectivity 3
  10. 10. INTERVIEWS • A method favoured by interpretive sociologists, because apart from structured interviews they tend to yield qualitative data. • Seen to generate highly valid data. • Seen as a method, to be lower in reliability compared to questionaires. Focus group: a diverse group of people assembled to participate in a guided discussion about a particular topic.
  11. 11. TYPES OF INTERVIEWS Structured interview: similar to a questionnaire, no diversions/ extra evaluation is considered. • Every question is answered. • Clarification can be given. • Miss-understanding is minimised. Semi-structured interviews: an interview that starts from a list of questions but then allows for diversity. Unstructured interviews: interviews that have a general topic but have no structured questions to ask.
  12. 12. ADVANTAGES AND DISADVANTAGES Type of interview advantages disadvantages Interviews in general • Opinionated answers • Can be recorded for further used • Allows for a lot of qualitative data. • Not generalizable • Note taking may miss vital information. Unstructured interviews • Allows for more information and opinions • Going off on tangents may lead to you getting vital information you didn’t consider asking. • Less valid • Not all information you may have needed to be answered is. • Hard to compare if different questions are asked. Semi-structured interviews • Important questions wont be forgotten. • You may come across more question to ask in further interviews. • Irrelevant data. Structured interviews • You collect only the information you require. • The risk of the interviewee, or even the interviewer is minimised. • More quantitative • No as valid. OF DIFFERENT TYPES OF INTERVIEWS
  13. 13. DESIGNING AN INTERVIEW • Don’t ask leading questions. For example ‘would you agree that…is …’ is a leading questions. A question that isn't leading ‘what do you think about this...’ • Show patients and understanding. • Don’t be prejudice. Barker (1984) • Studied the ‘monies’ accused of brainwashing. • He used questionnaires and interviews.
  14. 14. INTERVIEWS Labov (1973) • Conducted semi-structured interviews. • Found that the race of the interviewer effects results. • BIA’S Willis (1977) • Carried out interviews and observations. • Interviews with teachers and students. • Working-class kids wanted working-class jobs. Ranking of interviews reliability 2 validity 4 geralizability 3 representativeness 2 operationalization 3 objectivity 1 subjectivity 4
  15. 15. OBSERVATIONS • Covert: undercover observations, the group doesn’t know they are being observed. • Overt: the group knows they are being observed. • Participant: researchers involved in the observations. • Non-participant: researchers not taking part. Nigel fielding (1993) • Used covert observations to research the national front. He used this type of observation to protect himself. Humphreys (1970) • Used participant interviews to observe the tearoom trade. Thornton (1995) • Used participant observations to observe the clubbing culture. Beverly Skeggs (1991) • Studied female sexuality amongst students at a college. She used overt and non-participant observations.
  16. 16. ADVANTAGES AND DISADVANTAGES Type of observation advantages disadvantages covert • Reliable • valid • unethical overt • Its ethical • The researcher may influence people to act differently when they know what they are being observed for. participant • Increases validity • Allows researcher to investigate deviant groups • Participants may be influenced to act differently. Non-participant • Without the researcher being involved the participants wont act any differently • Less valid • Less reliable OF OBSERVATIONS
  17. 17. OBSERVATIONS Ranking of observations reliability 3 validity 5 geralizability 3 representativeness 3 operationalization 4 objectivity 2 subjectivity 5
  18. 18. KEY WORDS Pluralism: use of more than one sociological method in a single study to ensure reliability and validity. Triangulation: using more than one social research method so that there is some form of check of one against the other. Pioting: to conduct a small scale version of the research you plan to conduct in order to discover any unanticipated problems that may arise.
  19. 19. METHODS Mixed methods: using a variety of methods to conclude a study. Mythological pluralism: strengths and weaknesses of different research methods and aims to build up a fuller picture of social life by combining different research methods and different types of data. Triangulation: using more than one social research method so that there is some form of check of one against the other.
  20. 20. SAMPLING Population- the term given to everyone in the group that is being studied. Sampling: -A sample is a part of a larger population, often chosen as a cross-section of the larger group so that the sample is representative. -Sampling is used to generalise the larger population. -samples are used to cut the cost of using a whole population. -The whole population may not be willing to take part. May not be able to access the entire population. Things to consider: •Time •Cost •Access •Topic
  21. 21. SAMPLING Sampling frames: -A list of members from the population that are to be studied. -Some are readily available (electoral role) -Use of: telephone directories, membership lists, registration lists etc. Problems with sampling frames: -Electoral role- doesn't always find all members of society. -Phone directories- unrepresentative, the poor are often underrepresented in phone directories. Many young people have mobile phones and aren't listed. -Club/ organisation membership only represent the pro-active.
  22. 22. SAMPLING Random sampling: -each member of the population has an equal chance of being selected. -computer draws are used. Large samples are needed to give a high chance of representativeness. Equal chance, avoids bias selection. Stratified sampling: -randomly selected through a population of people that reflect the study. Dividing into groups and sampling from each. Good for being representative. Can be generalised.
  23. 23. SAMPLING Opportunity sampling: -using anyone that is available. -its unreliable, and unrepresentative. Volunteer sampling: -used to find participants that are usually hard to locate. Found through advertisement. May be bias to why they want to take part.
  24. 24. SAMPLING Systematic sampling: -take every nth name from the sampling frame. -its quick and avoids bias. Cluster sampling: -certain areas chosen in the UK and random samples taken in those areas. Quota sampling: - interviewing people from random groups. -Use of the first few people you find from each group. -Its quick, cheap and easy. -It may not be representative.
  25. 25. SAMPLING Snow-ball sampling: -Ask one member to ask two members they know then them two to ask two each and so on... -Cannot be easily located. -Less representative. Purpose sampling: -Sample chosen according to a known characteristic.(teacher, MP)
  26. 26. EXPERIMENTS Laboratory experiment: an experiment conducted in specially built surroundings. Field experiment: an experiment conducted in everyday social settings. strengths weaknesses Reliable- it can be repeated, but results may not be exact (laboratory) Field experiment may not be as reliable because social settings change daily can be generalised
  27. 27. EXPERIMENTS Variables: factors which affect behaviour, variables can vary or change. Hawthorne effect: changes in the behaviour of participants resulting from an awareness that they are taking part in an experiment. Experiment bias: the unintended effect of the experimenter on the participant. Albert Bandura (1973) Hypothesis: Aims: to see if violent behaviour influences children's behaviour. Method: a child was put in a room of toys with an adult being violent towards a blow up toy doll to see if the children would copy. (also showed violent television programs to see if violence would increase among children. Evaluation of Bandura’s study: every child copied so this proves violent behaviour influences children's behaviour.
  28. 28. HOW EXPERIMENTS WORK 1. Starts with a hypothesis 2. Design experiment 3. Carry out experiment (collect quantitative data) 4. Data is analysed 5. Generalise findings
  29. 29. SECONDARY RESEARCH DOCUMENTS AND MASS MEDIA A document: Personal: • Letters • Diaries • Autobiographies • Memories • Suicide notes Official: • School records • Social work records Mass media: • Newspapers broadsheets • Tabloids • News (TV) • radio
  30. 30. HOW TO USE DOCUMENTS AND MASS MEDIA 1. Content analysis • Systematically analysing communication e.g. how many times someone used a certain word in an interview and how many articles in a newspaper are about murder. 2. Qualitative interpretation • Simply reading a persons documents to create an idea of the persons life and opinions. advantages disadvantages Documents give you a lot of detail about a certain area. If the documents are old they may be hard to understand. Cheaper and easier than primary research. Could be issues with fake documents or letters. A good place to start research. Over exaggeration of the media. Could be difficult to interpret or compare qualitative data.
  31. 31. • Produced by local governments, central government and government There are two types of statistics: • HARD • Can not manipulate • Birth marriages etc.. • SOFT • Can manipulate • Poverty • Crime • unemployment OFFICIAL STATISTICS Examples: • British crime survey questionnaire. • Census (fill in a form by law every 10 years) Non-official statistics: • TV ratings • Surveys set out by interest groups. • Surveys carried out by sociologists. agencies such as the police.
  32. 32. advantages disadvantages Easy to obtain Some people have ulterior motives, (e.g. providing how bad gun crime is in the UK and then only looking at poor areas.) Hard stats are objective and easy to analyse Soft statistics can be manipulated to suit the needs of the researcher. ADVANTAGES AND DISADVANTAGES OF OFFICIAL STATISTICS advantages disadvantages Quick and easy Exciting data might not be valid or reliable. You are stuck with the way research was originally done. Can easily compare secondary data Documents may not be authentic. Can compare past and present Official stats could be biased Don’t have to worry about informed consent. Might not be able to find the information you need in existing data Your values can get in the way of how you interpret that data. ADVANTAGES AND DISADVANTAGES OF SECONDARY DATA OVERALL
  33. 33. ETHICS • Moral principals that govern a persons or groups behaviour. • Set by the ‘British sociological association’ • Within research there are six main ethical principals. >>>>>>>>>>>>>
  34. 34. Ethical issue definition Why is it important to not breach this ethical issue? studys deceit The action or practice of deceiving someone by concealing or misrepresenting the truth. Fielding 1993: national front. Covert participant observations. He deceived the people he was observing. sensitivity A person's feelings which might be easily offended or hurt So people fell understood Humphreys: impersonal, sex in toilets. Invasion of privacy No consent bias Prejudice in favor of or against one thing, person, or group compared with another, usually in a way considered to be unfair. Will cause the results to be inaccurate. Barker: Moonies She became bias of them confidentiality the state of being secret; "you must respect the confidentiality of your client's communications Can cause problems legally. Invasion of privacy the wrongful intrusion by individuals or the government into private affairs with which the public has no concern. Informed consent by a patient to undergo a medical or surgical treatment or to participate in an experiment after the patient understands
  35. 35. PERSPECTIVES ON MYTHOLOGY POSITIVISM VS INTERPRETIVISM • Sociologists view of what society is like and how we should study it. • 2 contrasting persepectives when it comes to choosing mythology. 1. positivism 2. interpretivism 2. positivism! • Concern themselves with MACRO.(bigger picture) • Assumes society exists independently of individuals. It is objective. • Its an external force that’s observable and measurable and predictable. • Society shapes and controls individuals. They are passive. • Positivists prefer structured, quantitative mythology and aim to look for predictable and formulaic patterns of behaviour. • Look for casual relationships, and prefer value-free, reliable, representative, large scale, qualifiable mythology.
  36. 36. Interpretivism ! • Concern themselves with MICRO. • Subjective social construction • Internal forces are unpredictable and cant be objectively measured, individuals are active. • Prefer unstructured, qualitative mythology and aim to uncover and interpret meanings behind behaviour and interactions. • Look for meanings and valid, small-scale, in-depth mythology. Positivists primary data: • Artificial experiments • Comparative method • Large scale surveys • Questionnaires • Structured interviews • Non-participant observations. Secondary data: • Official statistics. Interpretists primary data: • Natural field experiments • Small scale surveys • Questionnaires • Unstructured interviews • Participant observations Secondary data: • Diaries • Newspaper articles • Auto-biography's • Life histories • Documents • Photographs/ paintings.

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