Qualitative methods- Documents

  • Created by: Lucy
  • Created on: 30-05-17 23:09

Qualitative methods- Douments


  • Practical: already produced/ access if made public not private/ free or cheap source of large amount of information/ saves time already produced.
  • Valid: give research a valid picture of actors' meanings/ personal documents are not written with anyone in mind likely to be true
  • reliable: true reflection of the that time


  • Practical: not always possible to gain access / individuals and organisations create documents for their own purpose not the sociologists
  • Valid: issue of credibility- document believable, diaries can contain inside thoughts or feelings/ written long after events may be forgotten/ document in foreign language/ misinterpreting
  • Representativeness: not all documents survive-lost or destroyed/ not all are available- 30 year rule where its classified
  • Bias/ progranada
  • ethical issues: personal information that should not be shared etc.


Documents are secondary sources that save time and money providing data that sociologists may not be able to gather themselves. Sociologists may not be able to gather themselves. Sociologists use personal and public documents. Interpretivists favour them for giving insight into actors' meanings but they may be authentic or representative. Sociologists may apply content analysis to documents.


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