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Ellie Simpson, 12PCD ­ SOCIOLOGY AS

Sociology Revision ­ UNIT 2



Primary Data You collect the data First hand data.
yourself using methods,
such as interviews and
questionnaires. The data
you collect is unique to
you and your research.
Until you publish it,…

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Ellie Simpson, 12PCD ­ SOCIOLOGY AS

numerical in nature, e.g.
in-depth interviews.
Validity When data presents a true Reflects a true picture,
and accurate description qualitative data.
or measurement. How far
the findings of research
actually provide a true
picture, genuine or
authentic picture of what
is being studied.

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Ellie Simpson, 12PCD ­ SOCIOLOGY AS

the view that sociology is

A positivist sociologist wants to identify the underlying causes of people's behaviour.
The data that is collected is quantitative ­ facts and numbers that are precise.

Study society, human behaviour, using the scientific methods, or the

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Ellie Simpson, 12PCD ­ SOCIOLOGY AS

This gives a different meaning and undermines validity.

2. The evidence is seen as highly reliable as them researcher has followed a
systematic procedure in order to collect the data.
Asked the same questions in the same order can use this data to replicate,…

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Ellie Simpson, 12PCD ­ SOCIOLOGY AS

7. By `stepping into someone else's shoes', sociologists are not imposing their
view on the world.
Strength. Increases validity.

8. Unreliable as the research process is often a unique situation that cannot be
Limitation. Positivists would say it is unreliable as it cannot…

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Ellie Simpson, 12PCD ­ SOCIOLOGY AS

SOCIAL CHARACTERISTICS ­ for example, age, gender, ethnicity ­ applies to
covert participation observation.

SKILLS ­ personal skills

SUBJECT MATTER ­ for example, closed groups, cults. Masons, scientologists.



CODES OF ETHICS TO FOLLOW ­ British Sociological Association 1.
Informed consent, 2.…

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Ellie Simpson, 12PCD ­ SOCIOLOGY AS


Sampling Description Strengths Weaknesses Representative?
Opportunistic The sample is the Yes
situation use
the sample as it
is there.
Random Names drawn out Not biased. By doing it Generally not.
Sampling (names at random. randomly, it may The larger the

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Ellie Simpson, 12PCD ­ SOCIOLOGY AS

them to
someone else.
The sample picks
up over time.
Volunteer The researcher Might be the only Only get a No
Sampling asks for way in which to systematic bias ­
volunteers. get a sample. not a full range of

Why Positivists support…

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Ellie Simpson, 12PCD ­ SOCIOLOGY AS

*** Predominantly closed/pre-coded questions, quantitative data

For example, Census, British Crime Survey (victimisation survey) and General
Household Survey.


Questionnaires are...
The most common form of survey
Done by self-completion ­ there is no interviewer
An example of a questionnaire is the Census


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Ellie Simpson, 12PCD ­ SOCIOLOGY AS

Ethical Advantages Ethical Disadvantages
Anonymity, e.g. no name Possibility of psychological harm,
insensitive questions.
Right to withdraw ­ don't have to do it, Not suitable for sensitive subjects or
the respondent has control vulnerable groups
No deception ­ informed consent
No physical harm…


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