Whether results are consistent over time and
accurate in terms of the population being
studied. If research is reliable it will produce
similar results if the same mythology is used
This is the extent to which a research project
meets its aims and can be trusted to be an
accurate measure of what the researcher
aimed to discover.
• Internal: if the researcher answers what is
supposed to be answered.
• External: can be applied to wider society.
The extent to which set of conclusions about a
population sample can be said to be true of
the entire target population.
Does a sample have exactly the same
characteristics as everyone else in the target
population so that findings of the small group
studied would be true of everyone else in that
The selection of a small study group. The sample should
have similar characteristics to the wider target population.
Types of sampling:
• Convenience : Researcher uses anyone who is available and willing to take part.
• Systematic: Selection of a population within an ordered sampling frame. Every
• Stratified: A sample that is drawn from a number of separate strata of the
population, rather than at random from the whole population.
• Cluster: The total population is divided into groups, then a random sample of the
groups is selected.
• Random: a sample in which every element in the population has an equal chance
of being selected
• Snowball: where existing study subjects recruit future subjects from among their
acquaintances. (friend of a friends)
• Quota: A sample taken from a stratified population by sampling until a pre-assigned
quota in each stratum is represented.
• Purposive: (Judgemental sample) Population selected based on their knowledge
being purposeful. Selected because of a certain characteristic.
this is the extent to
which a research study
can be said to protect
everyone involved in a
institutions from any
source of potential
o Ethical issue examples
psychologist Milgram, &
E.g.. Ethical issues within an experiment
The Tuskegee Syphilis experiment, (1932-1972):
The Tuskegee experiment was a study by the United States public health service, to
study the natural progression of untreated syphilis (a chronic bacterial disease that is contracted
chiefly by infection during sexual intercourse) for 6-9 months and then follow the treatment
phase in a group of black men.
The study used rural African American men, who believed they were receiving free
health care from the United States government. The study began in 1932, when investigators
sought 600 disadvantaged sharecroppers (tenant farmers who give part of their yield as rent)
from Macon County in Alabama. 399 of the men had contracted syphilis before the study, and
201 did not have the disease. The benefits for participating were free medical care, meals and
free burial insurance (funeral cost).
The men were told they were being treated for ‘bad blood’ which was a local term
used to explain illnesses such as anaemia, fatigue and syphilis. However were never told exactly
what they had, and were never treated for the syphilis.
By 1947 penicillin became the standard treatment for syphilis, nevertheless
investigators continued with the study without treating the participants, or informing them of
the drug. The study finally came to a standstill when a leak to the press eventually resulted in its
termination. The study resulted in death of some participants; wives contracted the disease and
children therefore born with congenital syphilis.
Doctors of the time were fixated on African American sexuality and their willingness to
continue sexual relations with those infected, and so blamed the individual. The doctors found
ways to help the innocent infants born with the disease, blinded by the need to place blame.
• To begin mutual respect and confidence was breached, as any citizen should be able to trust a medical
practitioner, yet the practitioners were the enemy’s in the situation, causing the African American males to be
• Generally the investigation was not considered from all standpoints; the experimenters caused unnecessary
deaths after the cure for syphilis was brought in, breaking ethical codes that say consequences must be
• Consent was not given fully. The participants were only informed that they would be receiving free medical
treatment for a disease type under the slang ‘bad blood’, so deception was breached.
• Debriefing: the participants should leave in the same state they arrived, with the period of 40 years; this could
not have been achieved. Some participants also died and harmed others outside the experiment.
• It is unclear to whether participants were able to withdraw from the study, but why would they if they received
free health care? They were debriefed and had no idea all their suffering could be cured, as far as they knew
they were being treated.
• Confidentiality: information of names, and notes from their progress were leaked into the media.
• Protection of participants was one of the biggest ethical issues, laws state participants should not take part in
the study if they have a medical condition which may be affected.
• Other problems:
• The study was racist to target Black African American men (The study made poor black people reluctant to seek
medical help). After the experiment there were rumours spread, saying the government introduced the virus of
AIDS/HIV into the Black community.
• After the introduction of penicillin to treat syphilis, the study continued for a further 25 years. Researchers
failed to treat patients appropriately.
• The study lead to changes in the United States laws and regulation, involving the protection of participants in
clinical studies, and studies now also require informed consent, communication and accurate reporting of test
Ethical issue definition Why is it important to not
breach this ethical issue?
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
sensitivity A person's feelings which might
be easily offended or hurt
So people fell understood Humphreys: impersonal, sex in
Invasion of privacy
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
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.
the wrongful intrusion by
individuals or the government
into private affairs with which the
public has no concern.
by a patient to undergo a medical
or surgical treatment or to
participate in an experiment after
the patient understands
Choose a topic
Define research question
Design the study
Do the research
Evaluate findings and methods
Write a report
Look at secondary sources
• Plan for sociological research…
Stages of development before a
final research method is selected.
• Operationalising concepts: tuning the key idea into
something that can be measure in some way.
• Selecting a method: plan the research method carefully to
ensure validity, reliability generalisability and be sure it is
ethical. (a pilot study should be conducted before the final
• Accessing a population: arrangement of people to speak to,
observe, question. Some people may be reluctant to
participate. The population must be representative and
generalisable. A gatekeeper is a good way to introduce a
group of participants.
• Sampling: the technique used to select a group of people to
participate. Sampling ensures representativeness,
generalisability, reliability and validity.
• Hypothesis: A prediction of the outcome of a study,
experiment, interview etc.
– Empirical: descriptive, explanatory, predictive. Its provable.
– Conceptual: interpretive (qualitative)
• Primary research: new original, conducted solely by the
• Secondary research: existing data, has to be trustworthy.
• Hawthorn effect: When people respond or act in a certain
way, because of their awareness of the experiment, study,
observation, interview etc.
• Objective: not letting personal opinions and prejudices to
enter into the research process.
• Subjective: personal and potentially biased.
• False positive: a response that exaggerates the amount of behaviour that is
• False negative: a response that undervalues the amount of behaviour that
is being studied.
• Quantitative: relating to, measuring, or measured by the quantity of
something rather than its quality.
• Qualitative: relating to, measuring, or measured by the quality of
something rather than its quantity.
• Ethnographic study: the study of people.
• Longitudinal study: capturing data over a long period of time
• Methodological plurality: using more than one method to ensure both
reliability and validity
– 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.
Experiment: we manipulate the independent variable to test the
dependant variable whilst trying to control the extraneous variable.
– Independent variable: the changeable variable that can be manipulated.
– Dependant variable: measurable variable, stays the same.
– Extraneous variable: variable may not correlate for anything , variables
outside the ones being measured and tested.
Something is not an experiment if a variable cannot be manipulated.
Types of experiment:
• Laboratory- highest control level.
• Reaction times
• High internal validity
• Low external validity
• Field- in the natural environment
• Can be manipulated (independent variable)
• Natural- in the environment.
• Independent variable varies naturally (weather)
Reliable- it can be repeated,
but results may not be exact
Field experiment may not be
as reliable because social
settings change daily
can be generalised
Questionnaires & Surveys
• 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
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
You can collect both types of
Its harder to collect in depth
It is reliable Answers and limited.
Ranking of questionnaires
• 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
Types of interview:
• 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.
Type of Interview advantages disadvantages
• Opinionated answers
• Can be recorded for further
• Allows for a lot of
• Not generalizable
• Note taking may miss vital
• Allows for more
information and opinions
• Going off on tangents may
lead to you getting vital
information you didn’t
• Less valid
• Not all information you
may have needed to be
• Hard to compare if
different questions are
• Important questions wont
• You may come across more
question to ask in further
• Irrelevant data.
• You collect only the
information you require.
• The risk of the interviewee,
or even the interviewer is
• More quantitative
• No as valid.
• 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.
Ranking of observations
Type of observation advantages disadvantages
covert • Reliable
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
• Participants may be
influenced to act
Non-participant • Without the researcher
being involved the
participants wont act
• Less valid
• Less reliable
• Suicide notes
• School records
• Social work records
• Newspapers broadsheets
• News (TV)
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
2. Qualitative interpretation
• Simply reading a persons documents to
create an idea of the persons life and
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
Could be issues with fake
documents or letters.
A good place to start
Over exaggeration of the
Could be difficult to interpret
or compare qualitative data.
• Produced by local governments, central government and government
agencies such as the police.
Two types of statistics:
• Can not manipulate
• Birth marriages etc..
• Can manipulate
• British crime survey
• Census (fill in a form by law
every 10 years)
• TV ratings
• Surveys set out by interest
• Surveys carried out by
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.
Quick and easy Exciting data might not be valid or reliable. You
are stuck with the way research was originally
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.
Interpretivism & positivism
take the view that since human beings
think and reflect, scientific methods are
inappropriate for the study of society
sociology can and should use the methods
of the natural sciences
human beings can change their behaviour
if they know they are being observed. So
interpretivists argue that if we want to
understand social action, we have to delve
into the reasons and meanings which that
action has for people.
believe that sociologists should use
quantitative methods and aim to identify
and measure social structures
e.g. crime statistics, unreliability.
interpretivist would argue that
sociologists need to understand what
people mean by crime, how they come to
categorize certain actions as ‘criminal’ and
then investigate who comes to be seen as
criminal in a particular society.
e.g.Durkheim’s study of suicide.
• A mythology in the social sciences for studying
the content of communication.
Quantitative content analysis:
– Word frequencies
– Space measurements
– Time counts
– Key-word frequencies
– Time counts
– Keyword, frequencies
Content analysis test.
• Hypothesis: I predict that a tabloid (Daily
Express) will have more photographs, and that a
broadsheet (The Times) with have more Colum
• Sampling frame: The times and The Daily
Express, Friday 7th 2014 news's papers,
comparison. Number of photographs compared
to column inches.
The Daily Express (8 articles on crime)
Photographs Column inches
The Times(16 articles on crime)
Contrast of photographs compared to
column inches in The Daily Express
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
Contrast of photographs compared to
column inches in The Times
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16
• Overall my hypothesis was accurate, there were 0.1
more photographs on average in The Daily express, and
10.3 more column inches in The Times than the Daily
Express on average.
• If I were to repeat this content analysis I would
compare more than 1 broadsheet to more than 1
tabloid, and do it over a weeks worth of papers to
make my findings more accurate, reliable and valid.
• If I were to take out this new content analysis I would
expect to find still that tabloids have more photos but
by a more significant amount that 0.1 on average more
• Bernstein made a significant contribution to the study of communication with his
sociolinguistic theory of language codes e.g. elaborated and restricted codes.
• Bernstein’s theory shows how the language people use in everyday conversation both
reflects and shapes the assumptions of a certain social group. Furthermore, relationships
established within the social group affect the way that group uses language, and the type of
speech that is used.
• As an educator, he was interested in accounting for the relatively poor performance of
working-class students in language-based subjects, when they were achieving scores as high
as their middle-class counterparts on mathematical topics. In his theory, Bernstein asserts a
direct relationship between societal class and language.
• The restricted code is suitable for insiders who share assumptions and understanding on the
topic, whereas the elaborated code does not assume that the listener shares these
assumptions or understandings, and thus elaborated code is more explicit, more thorough,
and does not require the listener to read between the lines.
• Restricted: Within the restricted code, speakers draw on background knowledge and shared
understanding. This type of code creates a sense of includedness, a feeling of belonging to a
certain group. Restricted codes can be found among friends and families and other
intimately knit groups.
• Elaborated: the elaborated code spells everything out, not because it is better, but because it
is necessary so that everyone can understand it. It has to elaborate because the
circumstances do not allow the speaker to condense.” The elaborated code works well in
situations where there is no prior or shared understanding and knowledge, where more
thorough explanation is required. If one is saying something new to someone they’ve never
met before, they would most certainly communicate in elaborated code.
Ruqaiya Hasan: (Bernstein's study repeated, with
• extended empirical examination of Bernstein's code theory. A
10 year project conducted at Macquarie University. He
collected data from every day contexts of interaction between
mothers and children from two socially separated locations.
1. families from higher autonomy professionals 2. lower
autonomy professionals. Hasan found significant differences
in the ways these families interacted, across social class lines
there were major differences in how mothers and young
children from working class vs middle class families framed
questions and answers, commands and requests, and grounds
and reasons in casual conversation in normal settings. And
second, it showed that the usual mode of teachers’ talk with
these children was if anything an exaggerated version of the
typical middle-class ways of meaning.
Our experiment plan
• Who? A mixed ability class of year 7 students.
• When? During the school day on Monday 17th March.
• Where? Away from other students, to observe and
record data separately per child, room 112 (Textiles).
• What? Observe and record data on how year 7
students explain things, whether they use elaborated
or restricted code to explain 2 photographs to
someone who has not seen the photograph and to
the experimenter who has seen the photo before.
• How? Observation, Recording and table to state
whether the child is an elaborated or resrticted
Research Ethics Proposal Research Ethics Proposal
Researcher Name: Miss Zoe Dobson
Researcher’s Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Tittle of Research/ Experiment: Restricted and elaborated codes amongst mixed ability children.
Supervisor Name/ Teacher: Mr P Shields
Rationale for Research: The Research is to experiment restricted and elaborated codes amongst a mixed ability group of year 7’s (11-12 in age). The research will repeat a
similar experiment to the Sociologist Bernstein however much more ethical, and valid as the group shall be much larger. The group will also be mixed ability to rule out any
common results amongst the top sets or low sets in a class. And the Study is not about class but about how children communicate.
Main Research Questions: children will be asked some background information first; this will not include their name so child’s name is not exploited.
Then 2 photographs shall be shown to the child (all sensible everyday situations, nothing inappropriate e.g. NO violence of sexual references). There shall be 2 rounds. Round
1 the researcher will explain that they have seen the photograph before, and then the child is asked to describe what happened or is happening in the photograph to the
experimenter/ researcher. Round 2 the researcher hasn’t seen before and so the child is then asked to do the same and describe the photograph, to see if description type
changes. A tally will then be taken on whether the child describes to the researcher in a restricted or elaborated code.
Hypothesis: It’s expected that children of the age tested, 11-12, will more commonly use the restricted code in everyday conversations, but perhaps more elaborated whilst
communicating with teachers and elders they may not know that well. During the experiment my hypothesis is that children will more commonly use restricted code with the
researcher if the researcher explains they have seen the image before, however use a more elaborated vocabulary when they know the researcher hasn’t seen the picture.
This may not be the case and we may find that children do not use elaborated at all at such a youthful age.
Participants: Five male’s and five females of mixed ability, from a variety of English maths and science sets to make the research generalizable. They will be year 7 students
from Bitterne Park Secondary School ages 11-12.
Procedure: Student 1-1 with researcher.
Round 1: a general comic strip photograph/ drawing of an everyday situation/ scene of people the student will be told that researcher/ I will have seen the photograph.
Round 2: a general comic strip photograph/ drawing of an everyday situation/ scene of people I will have not seen this and the student will be made aware of that, to see if
Date Analysis: Data will be taken and recorded in a table with notes attached for each student. The researcher will be observing as well as taking quantitative data. Notes and
recordings will be written on what the children say. The table will have criteria such as whether they use restricted or elaborated codes, whether they use pronouns and how
well overall they describe the. Elaborated students will describe in much detail, perhaps describing people clothing, exactly how many figures there are in the image as well
as what the people are actually doing in the image. Restricted code students will just explain the general image; use filling words such as ‘like’ and ‘you know what I mean’
and use many pronouns.
Sample: the sample of students is partly convenience sampling, being a group of year sevens that are available at the time, but it is also random because any mixed ability
group could have been chosen to demonstrate language codes among year seven students.
Because a consent form has been sent out we are restricted to who will return the consent form. People who accept and who do not may affect results as there may be a
correlation between language codes and organisation or opinion of research.
Completing the research on just 11-12 year old is not going to give a real generalizable and valid result. If the research was larger we could take a random sample from each
year group from play school age, when children are educated enough to explain an image to a researcher, up to 18 year olds, just before adulthood, this will give a more
generalizable population to represent language codes amongst children. However being a student it is not accessible to do this, it would be time consuming and there would
be a cost.
A disadvantage to children will be 5 minutes out of class, for something that is not advantaging them.
Debriefing: Students names will not be asked for or published during this research, also students will be notified on their right to withdraw from the 1-1 interview at any time
if they feel uncomfortable or no longer want to continue for any reason.
Consent forms: A consent form has been put together for parents/ carers and the student to sign and hand back to me at school/ college. The consent form has a brief
overview of the research and reassures parents that their children will not be exposed or revealed because of results. Parents will also be informed that a fully qualified CIB
checked teacher will be around observing at all times.
Consent Form (A2 sociology Study participant)
Dear Sir or Madam,
Your Son or daughter has volunteered to participate in a year 13 A2 Sociology study. The study will be supervised by Mr
Shields (Sociology teacher). Your child will be required to describe a particular given situation to discover whether there are
any variations of description between each student. Each child has the right for withdrawal if they wish to discontinue with
the study. All transcripts from the study will remain anonymous and will be locked away after use. The study will last for
approximately 5 minutes within school time, during an art & Design lesson.
Sincerely Miss Zoe F Dobson & Miss Satveer K Rathore
I give ………………………… permission to take part in the study
Students SATS results: (For data analysis purposes)
• Where? 112 Textiles room, with teacher present, Mrs Earnsure. The room is
only down the hall from their class room. Teacher will send students by
consent form one at a time to the room.
• When? Period one Monday 17th March
• How? Take students out of lesson one by one and have a 1-1 with
researcher to ask the questions.
• When entering the room (Debrief): Students will be welcomed and made
to feel comfortable, and reminded that they have the right to leave at any
point during the 1-1, they will also be asked if they would mind us recording
there voice for a benefit, and that it will be deleted one report is finished.
• While in the room:
• Round one: Student will be asked kindly to describe both pictures and the
video to the researcher, and will be told that I the researcher has seen the
clips and pictures.
• Round two: Student will be asked kindly to describe both pictures and the
video to the researcher and will told that I the researcher has not seen
these pictures and clip before.
• When leaving: Say thank you for taking part, and let them make their way
back to class.
What we are showing students
Round 1: seen
Round 2 : have not seen
SATS Maths Round 1 notes Round 2 notes Restricted or
1 3 3 R R R
2 4 5 R/E R R
3 4 4 R R R
4 5 5 R R R
5 6 6 R R R
6 5 6 R/E E E
7 6 5 E E E
8 5 4 R R R
9 5 5 R/E E E
10 3 4 R R R
• 3/10 students used elaborated code.
• 0/5 boys used elaborated code.
• 3/5 girls used elaborated code
• 3/10 students used a mixture of both codes in the
• within the sample girls got higher SATS results in
English compared to boys, perhaps this is why the
girls used elaborated code more than boys.
• Students that used elaborated codes got above a
level 5 in both English and maths.
• The highest achieving boy in the sample however,
with x2 level 6 used restricted code.
Overall number of students
Overall, a majority of the
students used restricted
codes. One boy used a
mixture of elaborated and
restricted, but overall
restricted and 3 girls used
elaborated code. All 3 girls
who used elaborated codes
got at least a level 5 in there
SATS for both English and
My hypothesis was correct,
Students were less broad with
their explanations of the first
image, knowing we could see
it, however all students
improved in their language
codes in the second round.
• To Improve this experiment/ Research I would use a large, random sample.
Using only 5 boys and 5 girls meant that results may not represent all 11-12 year
olds language codes.
• I do believe that comparing language codes between the genders in this
research is invalid because the sample is so small, I may just have boys of the
same attainment range or girls.
• Not all of the classes consent form were handed back so the study was based
conveniently and reliably on who has consent, this may affect the result because
perhaps a correlation could be made between the organised student who
remembered there slips/ were allowed consent.
Also to further my enquiry into language codes I would use a variety
of ages, from 5-18 to represent children and perhaps from 18-64 for
adults and then also to get a generational view of the evolution of
language code get a random sample of 65-90 year old to represent
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