Official Statistics

The advantages and disadvantages of Official Statistics for AS Sociology: includes examples.

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Official statistics are figures on a subject that are put out by an official
body, such as the government of a registered charity. They are a form of
quantitative research and as such are used by Interactionists as they can
be measured.
Official statistics are mainly used as secondary data to back up a
Sociologist primary research as they can be used to back up a theory with
Cheap. Official statistics are cheap and easy to get hold of as
official bodies that have to produce them publish them, because of
this they can be used to back up other work.
Comparison. Official statistics can be used for comparison. This is
their major advantage; they can be used to show a comparison
between different cultures, races, genders or countries etc. This is
why Durkheim used them in his study on suicide as it meant that he
could compare country, religion marital status etc (see examples for
an explanation).
Sample size. Official statistics have a large sample size; it can even
include everyone like the census that is sent to every person in the
UK. This means that they are an almost perfect representation.
Well planned. Official statistics are well planned and organised by
people who conduct them for a living, this means that their
response rate is usually higher and the statistics are collected
quicker and more efficiently.
Regularity. Official statistics are also conducted regularly allowing
for comparison between years.
Only form. There are also occasions when they are the only form of
Out of date. A major disadvantage is that official statistics are often
out of date by the time they are published.
The dark/black number. The most used criticism of official statistics
is that they may not measure what they are supposed to, e.g. the

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Reliability. Those who collect them, whose definition of a certain
category could be different from someone else's, put the statistics
in their categories, e.g. S. Taylor researching child abuse (see
examples for an explanation).
The way they're collected. The way that statistics are collected is
important, the Conservative government, under Margaret Thatcher
constantly changed the goal post of the 'job seekers allowance' to
move the numbers down.
Durkheim. Durkheim looked at 20,000 suicide cases in 1897
comparing country, marital status location etc.…read more


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