AS AQA Unit 2 Sociology Methods of Research

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Methods in Context Revision Notes and Table
Name of Method Description of Advantages Disadvantages Examples of Use
Official Statistics Data produced by Reliable Data ­ if repeated results Show links but do not explain the Russell and Rebecca
(Positivists) the government on would be similar causes Dobash used the BCS to
different areas of Representative ­ Surveys entire Unknown if they are a valid reflection of investigate the patterns
social life. populations what they are studying of domestic violence.
Used to establish Objective ­ No Values attached
between social
Questionnaires A list of questions, They are quick, cheap means of Limited and superficial, have to be Helen Connor and Sara
(Positivists) Written or gathering large quantities of data, brief Dewson posted nearly
self-completion, from a large quantity of people It is unknown whether the questionnaire 4,000 questionnaires to
widely used in There is no need to recruit and was completed by the actual students at 14 higher
large-scale social train interviewers and observers respondent education institutions
surveys The data is easy to quantify Low response rates can be a problem, around the country in
Reliable, if repeated by another because many who receive the their study of the factors
researcher the data would be questionnaire may not have the time, or influencing the
identical can be bothered to complete and decisions of working
Useful for testing hypothesis return the questionnaire. class students to go to
about cause-and-effect Very inflexible, researchers cannot university.
relationships between different explore other areas other than what
variables has been printed and finalised.
Detached and objective form of Questionnaires are snapshots, they
research give s picture of social reality at one
Largely representative as collected moment in time
from a large group of people Interpretivists argue that data from
Respondents are under no questionnaires lack validity and do not
obligation to answer questions and give a true picture of what has been
respondents are able to give studied

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Methods in Context Revision Notes and Table
informed consent and receive Questionnaires impose the
anonymity researcher's meanings, e.g. the
researcher chooses the questions thus
deciding what is important or not.…read more

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Methods in Context Revision Notes and Table
informed consent and receive
Unstructured Similar to a guided The informality allows the Take a long time to conduct, the time Aaron Cicourel and John
interviews conversation, the interviewer to build up a rapport scale will mean that the researcher will Kitsuse always follow up
(Interpretivists) interviewer has with the interviewee, putting them have a relatively small sample.…read more

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Methods in Context Revision Notes and Table
Cheap source of data, and quick
and easy to obtain
Participant Where a researcher Valid, the researcher is able to Personal Characteristics such as age, Wright found her
Observations enters an understand meanings behind gender and ethnicity affect the process Afro-Caribbean ethnicity
(Interactionists) environment and actions through building a rappour.…read more

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Methods in Context Revision Notes and Table
Longitudinal Studies A study that follows Trace developments over time, Sample Attrition ­ Where the sample Seven Up ­ BBC Study of
the same sample rather than a quick snapshot declines in size. E.g death, loss of the lives of 10
over an extended Overtime causes and comparisons contact. participants from the age
period of time. can be found The effect of demographic changes of seven, every seven
can render you sample year, still continuing.
unrepresentative.…read more

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Methods in Context Revision Notes and Table
Lab Experiments Experiments in an Reliable, other scientists can You cannot control all the variables Charkin et al (1975)
(Positivists) artificial environment replicate it because of its Small group, rarely representative used a sample of 48
to find a structured nature Ethics of studying human beings, have university students
cause-effect Objectivity, researcher has no they given informed consent, what are who taught a lesson to
relationship in a personal attachment to subjects the psychological effects.…read more


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