Sociology Secondary Research Methods

  • Created by: chlopayne
  • Created on: 16-04-19 09:45
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  • Secondary Sources
    • Research which came from work by another researcher.
    • Practical issues
      • Be aware what information already exists - literature review.
      • Time and money can be saved.
      • If a study is concerned with social change, it most likely will have been explored.
    • Problems; Issues of validity, reliability and representativeness.
    • Existing sociological research
      • Literature review is an evaluation of existing research.
      • Highlights areas of debates or gaps in knowledge.
      • Check reliability and validity.
      • Check how up to date existing research into the topic is.
    • Official statistics
      • Mostly used by positivists, prefers quantitative data.
      • Advantages; availability, identification of trends and patterns, able to make international comparisons.
      • Disadvantages; data isn't collected with sociological research in mind, the way stats are collected changes over time - categories used and definitions.
      • Disadvantages; reliability and validity of data, doesn't tell us why something happened.
    • Personal documents (diaries/letters)
      • Mostly used by interpretivists, prefers qualitative data to understand meaning and emotions.
      • Advantages; availability, valid data.
      • Disadvantages; not representative and nature of what was written can be affected by the intended audience.
    • The mass media
      • Some studies using mass media produce primary data e.g. content analysis.
      • The Mass Observation Project (1981), each year volunteers contribute responses to a list of open-ended questions, covering personal and social issues.
      • Content analysis, example of quantitative data. Easy and reliable, doesn't tell us the nature of the content.
        • Interpretation by the researcher and conclusions may be more subjective.


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