AQA A Level Sociology Field Experiments T+M

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  • Field Experiments
    • The comparative method
      • Relies on re-analysing secondary data
      • Designed to identify cause-and-effect relationships
      • Durkheim's (1897) classic study of suicide: used suicide official stats
      • Positives:        - Avoids artificiality         - Can be used to study past events      - Avoids ethical issues
    • Differs from a lab experiment in 2 ways:
      • Takes place in the subject's natural surroundings
      • Untitled
    • Example of a field experiment
      • Rosenthal and Jackson (1968): gave misleading info about pupils' abilities to discover the effect of this on the children's achievement
    • Actor tests and correspondence tests
      • Brown and Gay (1985): sent a black and a white actor for the same post. Corresponded in age, gender, qualifications...
      • Wood et al (2010): sent job applications, only thing that varied was ethnicity
    • Field experiments are more natural and valid for real life
    • There is, however, a trade off between naturalism and control
    • Can also be argued to be unethical as there is no informed consent


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