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Primary research
methods
A look at 8 common forms of primary research…read more

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Case studies
Case studies involve the study of a single example of
something. They can be used:
To develop a comprehensive understanding of something
by studying it in depth (E.g. Willis's study of the `lads')
To develop a general theoretical approach by falsifying a
theory (E.g. Gough's study of the Nayar, falsifying Murdock'
s theory that the family is universal)
To develop a typology (for example, Douglas's typology on
the social meanings of suicide)
To generate hypotheses…read more

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Case studies (2)
A problem with case studies is that you cannot generalise
from then
Bryman (1988) suggests that this can be overcome
through multiple case studies
E.g. Edwards & Scullion (1982) compared industrial
relations in 7 British factories to develop a more general
theory about factors affecting industrial conflict
However, it can be difficult to compare the findings of
case studies carried out by different researchers…read more

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Social surveys
Social surveys are large-scale studies which collect
standardised data about large groups, often using
questionnaires. There are three main types:
Factual surveys ­ Collect descriptive information
E.g. Gordan et al (2000) on poverty
Attitude surveys ­ Examine subjective opinions
E.g. Opinion polls
Explanatory surveys ­ Test theories or produce hypotheses
E.g. Marshall et al (1988) study of class
Most sociologists accept that surveys are useful for
collecting factual or descriptive data, but there is more
controversy over their use in explanatory studies…read more

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Surveys (2) - Advantages
Large samples possible
Reliable and representative
Quick data collection
Relatively cheap…read more

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