• PRACTICAL - quick and cheap means of gathering large amounts of data from large numbers of people, widely spread geographically, especially if a postal or online questionnaire is used.
  • PRACTICAL - no need to recruit and train interviewers or observers to collect data, because the respondents complete and return the questionnaires themselves
  • PRACTICAL - data is easy to quantify, particularly where pre-coded, close-ended questions are used, and can be processed quickly through a computer system to identify variables
  • ETHICAL - detached – they are very detached and objective as a method. The sociologist’s personal involvement is kept to a minimum – postal questionnaires are completed at a distance and involved no or little personal contact with respondents.
  • ETHICAL - consent – not under obligation to answer the questions, consent is instantly given if the questionnaire is returned/accepted
  • REPRESENTATIVENESS - can collect information from a large number of people – the results stand a better chance of being truly representative of the wider population than with other methods
  • REPRESENTATIVENESS - tend to pay more attention to the need to obtain a representative sample. The findings of the questionnaire are more likely to allows us to make accurate generalisations about the wider population from which the sample was drawn
  • RELIABILITY - good reliability as a questionnaire can easily be replicated – the questions can be the same and the answers can be the same
  • THEORETICAL - positivists – questionnaires enable us to identify possible causes, they are very attractive to positivists as they take a scientific approach and seek to discover laws of cause and effect. They are also very detached and objective.


  • PRACTICAL - data tends to be limited and superficial. They need to be fairly brief, since most respondents are unlikely to complete and return a long and time-consuming questionnaire
  • PRACTICAL - unsuitable for children who can't read or write so only a certain age of people can be studied
  • VALIDITY - response rate to questionnaires are particularly low – few of those who receive a questionnaire bother to return it. This could be down to how the questionnaire is worded – for example one with difficult language may only be completed by the well-educated
  • VALIDITY - a certain type of people may be the only ones who return the questionnaires – for example, stay at home parents are more likely to when compared with both full-time working parents. This means it is less valid as it doesn’t represent a variety of people
  • VALIDITY - lack of contact can make answers less valid as the participant isn’t able to explain what they mean by certain answers
  • VALIDITY - operationalisation of concepts – can be difficult when creating questionnaires for students. Their grasp of abstract concepts is less than adults – this means it may be hard to turn ideas such as ‘cultural capital’ into language they may understand. This can produce answers based on respondents misunderstanding of what the question means making their answers less valid.
  • THEORETICAL - interpretivists – data from questionnaires lacks validity and doesn’t give a true picture of what has been studied. We only get valid results if we are allowed to get close to the test subject and share their meanings.


Questionnaires can be seen as strong is the sense of them being very practical; they are a quick and cheap way of gathering large amounts of information. This data is also easy to quantify as it has the ability to be processed quickly. However, its weaknesses outweigh the positives. Questionnaires have very low validity as the response rate is extremely low and it seems to only target a certain type of people that return the questionnaires. Interpretivists would agree with this as data from questionnaire lacks validity and does not seem to give a true picture of what has been studied. 


No comments have yet been made