Research methods

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  • Choosing a research method
    • Primary sources
      • Collected by sociologists themselves
      • Can gather precise information. However costly and time consuming
      • Primary qualitive - unstructured interviews/ observation participant/ non-participant.
    • Secondary sources
      • Collected/ created by someone else. Is quicker and cheaper but may not provide exact information.
      • Secondary qualitive - diary/ historical documents / letters
    • Quantive/qualitive data
      • Quantive - information in numerical form. statistics
      • Qualitive - Provides in-depth incite on emotions. unstructured interviews
      • Primary sources
        • Collected by sociologists themselves
        • Can gather precise information. However costly and time consuming
        • Primary qualitive - unstructured interviews/ observation participant/ non-participant.
      • Secondary sources
        • Collected/ created by someone else. Is quicker and cheaper but may not provide exact information.
        • Secondary qualitive - diary/ historical documents / letters
    • Influences of method of choice
      • Practical
        • 1- Time+money, access to resources differ approach used. e,g professor have wider access than student.
        • 2- Personal skills, affect ability to use different social methods. e.g participant observations require good social skills.
        • 3- Subject matter, harder to study certain groups via certain methods. e.g gangs through questionnaires.
        • 4- Research opportunity, may come in-expectantly. e.g gangs need participant observation
      • Ethnical
        • 1- Informed consent, right to choose to be involved.
        • 2- Confidentiality, identity of participants kept private
        • 3- Harm to participants
        • 4- vulnerable groups, e.g studying children
        • 5- covert research, identity and purpose is hidden from those being studied.
      • Theoretical (most important factor)
        • 1- validity, true picture of something, qualitive methods best.
        • 2- reliability, would it be able to be repeated,
        • 4- methodical perspective, postivists- prefer quantitive. Interpretists - prefer qualitive.
        • 3- representativeness, people being studied are typical cross -section.
    • Influences on choice
      • 1- sociologists perspective- major influences such as the new right may look at welfare states whereas feminists may look at equalitity.
      • 2- society values- as values change such as attitudes around divorce and marriage.
      • 3- Practical factors - inaccessibility of certain situations may affect what topic to be investigated.
    • Progress of research
      • Hypothesis - Gives a direction to research . Protivists favour this, interprevisists say this is too broad.
      • Operational concepts - converting a sociological concept into something measurable
      • Pilot study - See if there will be any issues such as lack of understanding questions.
    • Samples and sampling
      • purpose is to see if the people chosen to include in the study are representative
      • A sampling frame is a list of all the population we are interested in studying. Needs to be up to date and without any duplications.
      • Random sampling- random is selected purely by chance. simplest technique. Quasi-random sampling- nth person in sampling frame is selected. Stratified random sampling- researcher breakdown the sample frame by age,gender, class. the sample is then  created in same proportion. Quota sampling -  each interviewer is given a quota.
      • non-representative sampling
        • 1- the social characteristics of research may not be known. 2- may be impossible to find or create sampling frame for particular research population. 3- potential respondents may refuse to participate.
        • *********** sampling- contacting a number of key individuals to suggest others who might be able to be interviewed. Opportunity sampling - choosing from those individuals who are easiest to access.
    • Interpretavists- love qualities methods such as unstructured interviews and observations. rich date= valid. Micro-approach bottom up
    • Positivists - love quantitive methods such as questionnaire and official statistics. reliable and on a large scale, macro approach.
      • Interpretavists- love qualities methods such as unstructured interviews and observations. rich date= valid. Micro-approach bottom up

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