Hassiba Studying Society Revision

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  • Created by: Hassibaz
  • Created on: 10-05-16 12:52

1. Studying Society Key Terms

Sociology is the academic study of social life, groups and societies; society and its structures - family, education, politics.

Socialisation - The process of learning

Culture - The shared way of life. it is the way that society expresses itself.

Values - The things society think is improtant in life, so we should all follow 'rules' related to it; equality, respect, privacy, freedom of speech, human life, success, marriage, money

Norms - Unspoken, unwritten rules of acceptable behaviour that make up part of our culture.

Primary Sociastion - The first stage of lifelong learning about culture, norms and values which er recieve from our parents and other close family memebers

Secondary Socialisation - Culture, norms and values we learn outside the home through shcool (education), the media, religion and peer groups. 

Agencies of socialisation - The social groups or institution that socialise us.E.g.family,media ect

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2. How Sociology Differs?


It also study people, drawing on key concepts such as personality or aggression and using research techniques an experiments.

However, pyschology focuses on the behaviour of individuals

Whereas, sociology focuses on group behaviour, social structure and social processes that influence us


Both carry out research to answer similar questions about society

However, journalism research is less systematic, oftern biased and one sided in their reports, less time and needs to meet deadlines.

Whereas, sociology research is more structures. Sociologist are more balances in their views and try not to use evidence o gice a one-sided viewpoint

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3. Nature Vs Nurture Debate

Contrasting sociology with biology: Biologist look for biological causes or characteristics when studying human behaviour. Whereas, sociologist view behaviour as social or cultural. 

The “nature” side of the debate argues that people are shaped primarily by genetics and biology. The “nurture” side argues that our participation in social life is the most important determinant of who we are and how we behave. E.g. whether men and women differ becasue of biological factors (e.g.hormones) or due to primarily to socialization and other social forces.

Soiologists believe culture is based on learning rather than a natural born instinct.

Our RACE is something we are born into e.g the colour of our skin

ETHNICITY is something we learn through our culture - language, religion, food we eat, traditions.

Feral Children - children who lived with animals show few natural skills - against nature (nurture)

Mulricultural society -  learn to respect other peoples's  different ethnicities by being taught about their religion and traditions in schools.

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4. Socilaisation into Gender Roles

Sex - Biological differnces (being a man or a women)

Gender - The social part of sex. How you have been socialised to behave based on your sex. (e.g. being masculine or feminine)

Sterotype - a generalised view of a certain group. there is an assuption that all members share the same features.

Women care and nurture the children. They are weak and not very good at sports.

Men are the workers and providers. They are strong and good at sports.

Socilaised by the way they are treated differently - Parents more protective of girls than boys

The toys they recieve - Girls recive dolls to learn to be caring - feminine, Boys reciece a truck because they like danger and speed - masculine

How their parents behave - Mother cooking and cleaning, Father working, DIY

what is shown in the media - Girls like make-up and pink, Boys like sprots and blue.

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5. Individual Vs Society

The Agents of Socialisation can reward us and sanction us. For example, parents may treat us yet restrict us, friends can include you or exclude you, the media may teach you trends but can make you feel bad about yourself, education can give points/trips/praise you yet they can exclude you/detention and finally in religion you go to heaven if you are good but hell if you are bad.

Is it possible to be an individual in society?

Yes - Create Sub-cultures and rebel against the agents of sociolaisation. Have Your own identity. People might not be 'normal' they may be overweight, have lots of tattoos.They can dress in the way that is not social appropriate. You can join and create your own social groups.

No - By the rewards and sanctions we recieve we cannot be individuals. Worried about being rejected and not accepted. People do not want to be discriminated because they are not conforming to the norms. They do what society wants as they want to be rewarded and not sanctioned

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6. The Functionalist View

Functionalism views society as a social system of interconnected parts - a bit like a human body with each part of the body depending on the other to 'function'. Each part need to work together for the whole thing to run smoothly.

Instead of the heart and lungs in the human body, society has social institutions like schools,families and the police that work together so the social body can survive.

Functionalists have a consensus veiw of society.

Society is based on agreement and the things that make up society compliment and work with each other.

The problem with Functionalism is that they only look at the positives and don't focus on any negatives. Some people think the bodies function better than society e.g because some people don't get good exam results

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7. The Marxist View

Society is divided by class - The ruling class (bourgeoisie) and the working class (proletariat).

There is constant conflic between the clases. The ruling class has the most power and wealth and the workers have to struggle to survive. The agencies of social control help the ruling class keep the working class in place.

False class consciousness ----> Workers are unaware they are being exploited.

Marxists have a conflict view of society. Society is based on conflict view of society. Society is based on conflict and struggle between the classes.

The problem with Marxism is that they only look and focus on the negatives rather than the positives.

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8. The Feminist View

Feminist believe that society is divided - by men and women

They believe the men rule society and have power. Society is patriarchal --> Male Dominant

The problem with feminists is that they focus only on the problem women have rather than their accomplishments. Also, they don't focus on the problems men have.

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9. Carrying Our Research

Primary Research - Research carried out by the sociologists themselves.
Secondary Research - Research that has already been done by others e.g.official statistics, diaries

Quantitative Data - Data in form of numbers (close questions). + easy to read/compare/analyse/quick. X lack detail/inaccurate.
Qualitative Data- Data in form of words/quotes (open questions). + in-depth/deep understanding. X long/difiicult to analyse

Research Process: -> Choice a topic -> Devoloping a hypothesis or aim -> choose method -> Pilot Study -> Select sample -> collect data -> Analyse data -> Evaluate -> Conclude.

Pilot study - A trial or small scale version of the research to 'iron out' any issues or problems
Generalisation - General statements and conclusion that apply not only to the sample studied but also to the broader population
Sample - A subgroup of the population that is selected for study.
Sample Frame - List of names of the sample population you want to study.

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10. Sampling Methods/Techniques:

Representative Sample - A sample that has the same characteristics as the population but is a smaller version of it.

Random Sampling - Each member of the sample population has an equal chance of being selected. + not biased/good range. X don't have an equal target range/not representive.

Straitified Sampling - Random samples taken from each group. + range of people/no group left our. X group has equal vote/fairer percentage

Systmeatic Sampling - Researcher choose every nth term from the sampling frame. + not biased/random X not equal range/not all groups chosen

Quota Sampling - Researcher is sent out with instruction to find certain people. + specific for topic/ get the information you want X time consuming

Snowball Sampling - Researcher finds one person they want to study and ask them to contact others like themselves, useful to study + specific people/ fast to get sample of secretive grouops X can be unreliable.

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11. Ethics

Ethics - Moral guidelines about what is right from wrong.

Ethical Issues - How ethics might affect how researchers behave.

1. Informed Consent: You must have the agreement of those participating. They must understand the research that is being carried out and what it will be used for. If they have the full picture then they can give informed consent. They must also be told that they can stop at any time.

2. Protection from harm: None of those invovlved should risk being hurt physically or emotionally.

3. Deception: You must not lie to those involved.

4. Confidentiality: The identity of those taking part is kept secret unless they tell them otherwise.

5. Privacy: Those involved must only reveal what they are comfortable with.

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12. Questonnairs

  • Closed questions, quantitative data


  • lots of people can complete it (more representable)
  • quicker and cheaper and easier
  • more likely to answer sensitive or embarrassing questions (anonymous and confidential)


  • answers are already chosen (bias)
  • never certain who filled them
  • Dishonest (lie)
  • participants may not understand question/not fully completed

Social Surveys:

  • collect data from large numbers of people. Uses close questions. Standardisesd way (same question in same order). Self-completion: postal questionnairs e.g Census OR Structured interviews: someone asks closed questions
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13. Structured Interviews

When the researcher reads out a questionnaire (set of questions) to the respondent and records answers e.g interviews. Close questions, quantitative data.

  • Interviewer bias - he unitended affect the interviewer has on the respondent because of their age, gender, ethnicity, tone of voice etc.
  • Social desirability - When the respondent tries to show themself in a positive light to the interviewer.


  • Questions can be explained
  • standardised (can compare answeres - Make comparisons and links)
  • Can be replicated (repeatable/reproducible)


  • limited number of reponse choices
  • less in-depth (no follow up question)
  • interviewer effect (bias) - not giving truthful answers
  • Expensive and time consuming
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14. Unstructured Interviews

There are no set questions. The researcher has key ideas of the areas they want the respondent to discuss. Open questions, Qualitative data.


  • More in-depth
  • more valid (use of own words)
  • Participant understands the questions - explained
  • More confortable, relationship built (built trust)


  • Very expensive and time consuming
  • Interviewer effect - bias
  • Not standardised, not reliable
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15. Observation Part 1

Participant observation - The researcher joins in a group and takes part in its daily activities in order to study.

Non-participant observation - Like a 'fly on the wall'. The researcher observes the group at a distance and does not join in their activities. 

Covert (hidden) - This is a secret observations were the group does not realise they are being observed.


  • more valid - not bias
  • good for secretive groups
  • natural settings


  • Difficult to gain entry
  • hard to keep notes, rely on memory
  • unethical, deception.
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16. Observation Part 2

Participant observation - The researcher joins in a group and takes part in its daily activities in order to study.

Non-participant observation - Like a 'fly on the wall'. The researcher observes the group at a distance and does not join in their activities. 

Overt (open) - Being open and telling the group they are being oberserved.


  • Fewer ethical issues
  • Easier to record
  • Research group in natural setting


  • Observer effect
  • Less valid
  • hard to repeat same results, not reliable (not repeatable/reproducible)
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17. Longitudinal Study

This is a study of the same group of people over a long period of time. '7 Up' is an example of this type of research method.


  • Make comparisons overtime
  • Effective
  • May be used as a Secondary Sorce


  • Hard to keep same participants (drop out, death...)
  • Time consuming and expensive
  • Personal
  • Age group too big - not effective.
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