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Factors influencing choice of method:
·Time and money Different methods require different amounts of time and money. E.g. A small scale project may be
cheaper but could take a long time to complete.
·Access to subject matter Some sociologists may have limited access to certain things. Also, it might be difficult to
study particular groups.
·Funding Business, charities and governments provide funding for research. This may affect how valid the data is.
·Personal skills and characteristics A sociologists personality may affect their ability to mix with people.
·Sociologists perspective The sociologists perspective may influence their choice of topic.
·Informed consent The researcher should inform the participant about the true nature of the study.
·Confidentiality Researchers should ensure that the identity of the participant is kept a secret.
·Protection from harm The researcher should ensure that there is no risk of physical or mental harm.
·Vulnerable groups Social consideration needs to be given to certain social groups e.g. Young and mentally ill.
Sampling: Social Surveys
To choose a sample we need a sampling frame. An easy way to collect data about people is to ask them questions.
Sampling frame = this is a list of all the members
of the population we are interested in studying. ·Interviews
Types of questions:
Sampling methods include = ·Closed ended questions Respondents must choose their answer
·Random sampling from a limited amount of possible answers. These questions are easy to
·Systematic sampling analyse.
·Open ended questions Respondent is allowed to give whatever
·Stratified random sampling
answer they wish.
·Opportunity/convenience sampling Hypothesis = Before a social survey can begin the researcher needs
to formulate a hypothesis. This is a statement that can be tested.
Pilot Study Before conducting your survey you will need to Operationalizing concepts: to test your hypothesis you define the
produce a draft copy. This is important because it will sort out concepts you are measuring. Operationaliziation involves putting a
any problems. E.g. Wording of the questions. concept into something that can be measured.…read more
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Random sampling Quota sampling
Where each member of the target population has an Researchers look for the right number of each sort of
equal chance of being selected. person required dependent upon the target population
/ = A truly random sample is reliable e.g. 10 males and 10 females. (gender)
/ = every member has an equal chance / = A truly random sample is reliable
X = being completely random is very difficult / = Participants are closely linked with the research
X = random might not give equal proportion question. Research is therefore more valid because we
are finding out about specific groups.
X = quota samples are bias and are not representative
Systematic sampling of the whole sampling frame/ target population.
A sample in which every 10th or 100th name on a list is
selected e.g. The list contains every member of the
sample frame/target population. Snowball/volunteer sampling
/ = Representative because the list contains every Members of a sample put researchers in touch with
member of the target population. other potential members.
X = Not totally random because every 10th person. / = Easy to obtain participants as they self select. Used
mainly with groups with are hard to identify e.g.
Stratified random sampling X = Not representative due to only one type of people
Population is divided into groups according to who volunteer and how many would bring friends along
important variables e.g. Class. Sample is then chosen in to a study.
some proportions as found in population. E.g. Dividing
into males and females and then taking a 1% sample of
each. Opportunity/convenience sampling
/ = This method is an advancement on a random sample People chosen on basis of being easily accessible and
by ensuring that you get participants from each willing to participate in research.
category but select those participants randomly. / = Easy, cheap, quick way of collecting a sample and
X = Samples are influenced by the researcher in order to leads to a good response rate.
get an equal representation of each group, which might X = Not representative so you cant generalise the
not be an equal reflection of the whole population. findings.…read more
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Laboratory Experiments Field Experiments Comparative method
In a lab experiment there are two groups: This takes place in the subjects natural The comparative method is unlike field and
·Experimental group (group we manipulate) surrounding e.g. Work/school rather than in lab experiments because it is carried out in
·Control group (Keep conditions consistent) an artificial lab. The experimenter can still the mind of the sociologist. In the method
Controlling the IV allows a cause and effect manipulate the variables. two social groups that are alike, apart from
relationship to be established. / - Results will be more realistic and natural. one factor are compared to see if this
difference has any affect on them.
/ - They are value free / - its more valid than a lab experiment. / - You can establish a cause and effect
/ - reliable (variables are controlled and so if / - Interpretivists favour field relationship.
repeated the same results will be achieved). experiments. / - It can be used to study past events.
/ - Positivists favour lab experiments X the more realistic the less control we / - It poses no ethical issues.
because they achieve their main goal have over the variables. X - not reliable
of reliability. X Not reliable X there is no control over the variables
X It's impossible to completely control all X it raises ethical issues
X This method cannot study past events. X Deception is necessary
X Only can use small samples. X Informed consent
X Positivists criticise field
X Hawthorne effect: people may act experiments for reducing control over
differently because they know their being variables.
watched. This affects results.
X Informed consent: this might be difficult to
obtain from groups such as children or people
with learning difficulties.
X In some experiments deception is
X protection from harm
X Interpretivists reject lab
experiments because it fails to achieve
their main goal of validity.…read more
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Biased sample. You need to
consider who has the time
to fill in a questionnaire and
Sometimes prizes are offered to Data is easy to analyse (quantitative data)
then send it off.
encourage people to return
Low response rate
Honest answers given because researcher
isn't present. Especially if the information
Questionnaires are inflexible is to be confidential.
Quick and easy method
Don't know who
you don't know if the
right person received
it in the first place.
Questionnaires - Large sample = representative
No ethical issues
Data will be limited and
could be artificial.
Allow researcher to establish a
cause and effect relationship
People may lie to seem
desirable. Interpretivists reject this method
because questionnaires are not vaild.
Respondents may not understand the Positivists would like it for the Interpretivists would like it for
questions (might not be able to read closed ended questions. They the open ended questions.
/interpret them and the questions cannot favour questionnaires
be re-phrased. because they are reliable.…read more
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Group interviews are semi-structured interviews. Most interviews are face to face interactions,
however sometimes they are group interviews.
In a group people can help
each other to stimulate ideas
Its difficult to analyse because it People often open up more
produces rich qualitative data. because they feel comfortable
The researcher has to Group
keep the group focused.
Collects rich qualitative data
One person may
dominate the group…read more