methods in context - sociologists

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  • Education - methods in context
    • Interviews
      • Unstructured
        • William Labov - Used structured interview to study the language of black american children, however they were tongue tied and 'linguistically deprived'. he changed to an unstructured interview where they spoke freely and were shown to be competent speakers.
      • Structured
        • Young and Willmott - Of the 987 people approached for their main sample, only 54 refused.
    • Observation
      • structured - covert
        • Laud Humphreys - studied gay men's sexual encounters in public toilets. he noted: there is only one way to watch highly discreditable behaviour and that is to pretend to be in the same both with those engaging in it.
      • unstructured - overt
        • Maurice Punch - studied the Amsterdam police but, found that in striving to be accepted by the tightly-knit patrol group, he over-identified with them, even acting as a 'policeman' himself. The police said that they didn't always let him see everything, creating the Hawthorne effect.
    • Questionnaires
      • Sara Dewson - posted nearly 4000 questionnaires  to 14 different higher education institutions around the country to study the factors influencing WC students to go to uni.
    • Official statistics
      • Emile Durkheim - suicide (see experiments)
      • 2011 British Crime Survey found that only 38% of crimes revealed by the survey were actually reported to the police, and the police did not record all of these.
    • Experiments
      • Field.
        • Rosenthal and Jacobson - carried out research in a California primary school where pupils were given IQ tests and from this they told the teachers who would be likely to spurt in the next year (actually chosen at random)
      • Laboratory
        • Harvey and Slatin - used a sample of 96 teachers and they were each shown photos of 18 different children from different social classes. they were then asked to rate the children on their performance, parental attitudes to education, aspiration etc. un-ethical
      • Comparative method.
        • Emile Durkheim - studied suicide and the reasons for it. compared Protestants and Catholics.Evaluation: less control over variables and therefore can't be certain that he really had discovered the cause of suicide.


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