Research Methods - initial points

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  • Research methods - initial topic points
    • Positivism and research methods
      • sociology can  be studied the same way as the sciences
        • resulting in the production of quantitative data using quantitative methods
      • social facts
        • a phenomena which exists independently from individuals and outside of their minds
        • forces which shape/mould behaviour
          • the law
          • the family
          • the education system
      • Durkheim
        • the study of sociology should be the study of social facts
      • without quantification, sociology will remain on the level of insights and impressions lacking evidence
        • ill be impossible to repeat studies and find generalisations
      • works on a  large scale macro approach
        • focuses on large numbers of people and the large scale structure of society as a whole rather than individuals
      • positivist methods
        • the experiment
        • non participant observation
        • social surveys
        • structured questionnaires
        • formal/ structured interviews
        • the comparative method
    • interpretivism and research methods
      • verstehen
        • understanding human behaviour by putting yourself in the position of those being studies
      • there is a need to get personally involved with people to understand how they see the world
      • atkinson (1978)
        • uses interpretivist methods to critique durkeims suicide study
          • states suicide statistics are social constructions reflecting the behaviours of doctors, relatives etc.
            • tell us more about the decision making processes of the living than intentions of the dead
      • interpretivist methods
        • participant observation
        • informal interviews
        • open ended questionairres
        • use of personal accounts
      • micro approach
        • focues on small groups or individuals rather than large numbers of people and society as a whole
    • Practical factors and the consideration of ethics
      • ethics
        • principles or ideas of what is morally right or wrong
      • how easy it is to access those being studies
        • access to hospitals and schools
      • time and funding available
        • government backed research is likely to open more doors
      • availability of existing data on a topic
      • values and beliefs of the researcher
      • personal safety of researchers
      • informed consent
        • where those taking part have agreed to do so
    • theoretical issues
      • the sociological perspective held by the researcher will influence how they investigate a topic
        • will influence what they see as important
    • Key issues in sociological research
      • reliability
        • whether another researcher would achieve th e same results if they were to conduct the research themselves
      • validity
        • how far the findings of the research provide a true, genuine or authentic picture of what is being studied
      • ethics
        • the morality of the research and its effects on those involved


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