AQA A Level Official Statistics T+M

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  • Official statistics
    • Produced by the government and similar official bodies
    • Types of sources
      • Registration (such as births)
      • Official surveys (such as the ten-yearly Census)
      • Administrative records: (such as hospitals, courts and schools)
    • Practical advantages
      • Free source of huge amounts of quantitative data
      • Only the state has the power to compel individuals to supply certain data
      • Let us make comparisons between different groups
      • They show trends and patterns over time as they are collected at regular intervals
    • Practical disadvantages
      • Due to being created for the purposes of the gov., may be none on the topic the sociologists are interested in
      • Mismatches between sets of stats
      • Definitions such as 'homelessness' or 'truancy' may different
    • Theoretical issues
      • Positivism
        • They are representative due to covering a large sample
        • Reliable because they are compiled by trained staff who use standardised collection techniques
      • Interpretivism
        • Cicourel: stats are merely social constructs
        • In order to end up as a statistic, the individual must go through a series of social interactions
        • Hard and soft statistics
          • Hard: more valid than soft, include birth rates, marriages, divorces...
            • High level of validity as there is little dispute as how to define the categories
            • High validity as they are created from registration data
          • Soft: compiled from administrative records. They represent a record of the decisions made by these agencies, not very valid
      • Marxism
        • Official stats serve the interests of capitalism. Stats are part of Althusser's ISA
          • Politically sensitive data that would reveal capitalism may not be published
          • Definitions conceal the true reality of capitalism
          • Social class categories are based on occupation: gives the impression of a gradual hierarchy rather than a conflict
      • Feminism
        • As official stats are created by the state, they maintain patriarchal oppression... Little coverage of unpaid domestic labour
        • There have been changes in the definitions that may reveal women's position more clearly... HRP


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