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Point of View

Positivism : Positivists assume that sociological explanations should be like those of the natural sciences, and that
sociologists should use the logic, methods and procedures of natural science.
Key Ideas:
Social Reality is capable of being measured objectively by using scientific methods
As with the natural world,…

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A great deal of sociological research makes use of sampling. This is a technique aiming to reduce the
number of respondents in a piece of research, whilst retaining as accurately as possible the
characteristics of the whole group.
The purpose of taking a sample is to investigate features of the…

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Contacts are made until a quota is filled. Therefore, nonresponse cannot occur. The interviewer makes
the final choice of sample. However the choice is limited by availability, and the diligence and honesty of
the interviewer. The method is much used by market research and opinion pollsters.

Panel sample
This is…

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The experiment is the classic research method of the natural sciences. It is the means by which hypothesis are
empirically tested. Experiments involve the manipulation of an independent variable (cause) and the observation
of a dependent variable (effect), while controlling extraneous variables to test a hypothesis.

Lab Experiments
Lab experiments…

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Questions can be open ended, which gives the respondents the opportunity to expand on their answers, or, more
usually, closed/fixed choice questions were the respondents have limited choices.

Studies using questionnaires
Peter Townsend (1979) administered questionnaires so that he could measure the extent of poverty in the UK.
Shere Hite…

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+ Representativeness: Compared with unstructured interviews, structured interviews are relatively quick to
conduct. This means that a larger sample can be interviewed, which is likely to produce more
representative results, allowing the researcher to make generalisations. Structured interviews have a
higher response rate than mailed questionnaires and this also helps…

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+ Openended questioning allows interviewees scope to give detailed, in depth reactions. The more detailed
the response, the greater the likelihood of the sociologists understanding the research subject's
­ Unstructured interviews may not achieve the validity that they claim to do:
­ The closer the interviewerinterviewee bond may increase…

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The priorities of P.O.
The emphasis is on qualitative research, where the social meanings of the actors are the basis for
explaining their actions. In the past a frequently overlooked method, devalued possibly by concern over its
ability to meet strict criteria of scientific adequacy. This resistance to P.O. comes…

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involved that they go native. Furthermore, in this role the researcher is not achieving the aim of total neutrality as
their membership of the group lends support to that group.

Getting in, staying in, getting out

Getting in
Participant observers aim to become an unobtrusive part of the scene, nonthreatening…

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­ Covert participation raises many ethical issues. The group has not given consent to being observed and
their trust is broken.
­ Participant observation requires the researcher to participate in the groups activities and at the same time
remain sufficiently detached to observe and interpret their behaviour. This is not…


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