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Case Studies
Definition A highly detailed study of one or two social situations or
groups.
Strengths ·Very in-depth.
·Generates new hypotheses/theories.
·High validity.
Weaknesses ·Unrepresentative.
·Time consuming.
·Could be expensive.
Example Willis ­ Studied 12 non academic working class boys in the
second term of their last year of school and after they left
school, he found that the boys were anti-school and
misbehaved in class. They were looking forward to leaving
school to do manual work, drink, smoke and chase girls. From
this he concluded that people with an anti-school culture are
most likely to work in shops/factories.…read more

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Structured Interviews
Definition An interview with a set of questions in a certain order.
Strengths ·High response rate.
·Gets information from the `right' person.
·Easy to compare results.
Weaknesses ·Time consuming.
·Not in-depth.
·Answers may be altered to generalize.
Example Kinsey ­ Interviewed participants on sexual behaviour, he
gave them little time to answer as he wanted spontaneous
answers. This was a technique to improve validity.…read more

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Unstructured Interviews
Definition An interview which allows the interviewer to expand on
questions.
Strengths ·Good for researching sensitive issues.
·Open questions allows qualitative data.
·Allows rapport (friendly).
Weaknesses ·Not representative.
·Low validity (interviewer effect).
·Time-consuming.
Example Oakley ­ Studied 66 young mums before and after birth, after
birth, they were asked about how they felt when they first held
their baby.…read more

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Questionnaires
Definition A set of questions on paper given to a large number of people
to collect qualitative data or quantitative data.
Strengths ·Quick and cheap.
·Very reliable.
·Easy to generalize.
Weaknesses ·Low response rate.
·Low validity.
·Questions could be misleading.
Example Jackson ­ Researched the `laddish' behaviour in schools, she
found that girls also had this `laddish' behaviour, she labelled
them `lads and ladettes'. They were loud, misbehaved and
dressed like typical boys. Other research methods in this
research were observations and interviews.…read more

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Participant Observation
Definition The sociologist joins a group of people and studies their
behaviour.
Strengths ·Allows the researcher to get the truth.
·In-depth information.
·Allows researcher to see another perspective.
Weaknesses ·Ethnocentric (bias towards researcher).
·Not ethical (researcher may be drawn in to immoral activities).
·Difficult to generalize the population as a whole.
Example Patrick ­ Studied teenagers from an approved school where
he taught. He joined into their gang and pretended to be a
gang member, he therefore changed his looks and acted the
same as them to find out what they did. (Covert observation).…read more

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