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Laura Critchley Sociology AS

Sociological Methods
Choosing a research method
Types of data:

Primary data is information collected by the sociologists themselves it is firsthand data e.g. interviews, social
surveys, participant observation and experiments.

Advantage ­ sociologists are able to gather precise information they need to test their hypothesis.

Page 2

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Laura Critchley Sociology AS

Confidentiality and privacy identity of research kept secret to keep P's from harm, all findings confidential.

Effects on research participants harm to P's may sometimes be a result of research researchers must
anticipate this and prevent such issues.

Vulnerable groups special care should be taken with…

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Laura Critchley Sociology AS

Researching education

Researching pupils:

In schools, pupils have less power and status than adults, this makes it more difficult for them to state their
views openly (especially if their views challenege adult opinions). Researchers have to find ways to overcome
this power difference by perhaps doing…

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Laura Critchley Sociology AS

Due to education being compulsory the pupils are a `captive population' this poses advantages and
disadvantages for the researcher.

Researching parents:

Parents influence education by the way they educate their children and through involvement with teachers,
governors. Marketisation policies parents shop for their child's education.

Page 5

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Laura Critchley Sociology AS

Field experiments are done in response to the criticisms of lab experiments. They take place outside of the lab
in real social settings and those involved are often unaware they are being observed. Used by interprevists.

Advantages they're done in natural social settings and are more…

Page 6

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Laura Critchley Sociology AS

Rosenthal and Jacobson (1968) gave pupils an IQ test, the teachers we told that the test allowed for 20%
of the pupils to be identified as spurters. In reality, this was a lie the pupils were selected at random. The
pupils were retested after 8 month…

Page 7

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Laura Critchley Sociology AS

Some people may refuse to participate in the survey.

If representative samples aren't possible snowball sampling or opportunity sampling may be used in its place.
Interpretivists are less concerned about making generalisations and so have less of a need for a
representative sample.



Page 8

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Laura Critchley Sociology AS

No one can explain the questions if the respondent doesn't understand them.

Once the questions have been finalised, the researcher must stick to the set questions, therefore
cannot explore new areas of interest.

Do not portray a full picture as they do not capture the ways…

Page 9

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Laura Critchley Sociology AS

Each time the interview is conducted the same standardised questions are asked, the questions are closed
questions with multiplechoice answers.

They give quantative data and they're reliable the data gathered is quantifiable.

They're used in largescale social surveys and can cover large numbers of people.


Page 10

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Laura Critchley Sociology AS

Interpretivists favour unstructured interviews as they achieve validity. Positivists reject unstructured
interviews as each interview is unique and cannot be replicated.

The interview as a social interaction:

Social interactions can threaten the validity of interviews in several ways.

Interviewer bias: the interviewer may ask leading questions…


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