RM - Official Statistics

  • Created by: Mui
  • Created on: 21-04-13 12:00

Practical issues

Qualitative data created by official bodies such as the government e.g. exam results/census

Governments use OS' in policy making, and are created by officical surveys

Advantages - 

- the state has the resources to conduct expensive large scale surveys

- free to access

- state has the power to compel individuals to supply data 

- collected at intervals showing patterns/trends

Disadvantages - 

- no statistics available on the topics that concerns the sociologists

- definition of the state may differ from the sociologist

- state may change definitions it uses, making comparisons harder over time

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Theoretical issues w/ positivists

Positivists believe OS are reliable, objective, representative, and quantitative data allows them to measure trends 

They can be used to develop and test hypothesis e.g. Durkheim and suicide

OS are very large scale, so EXTREMELY representive e.g. the census, and care taken when choosing samples

OS are reliable, they are carried out using standardised measuring instrument 

Registration data e.g. births are standard procedures

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Theoretical issues w/ interpretivists

Statistics arent objective social facts, but social constructs

E.G. OS on mental illness are records of the amount of people the doctor decides are mentally ill

To become a statistic, individual must go through a series of interactions with e.g. w/ medical professionals

Statistics do not show the real rate of mental illness, rather the decisions of the doctor to label them that

SOFT STATISTICS - e.g. crime statistics are less valid because they're compiled from the decisions of agencies... Large amount of 'dark figure' crime

HARD STATISTICS - e.g. births, are more valid as most are recorded

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Marxist and Feminist

Marxists - 

Reject OS are objective, they serve the interest of capitalism

OS perform ideological functions e.g. politically sensitive data won't be published which exposes exploitive capitalism

Definitions used conceal the reality of capitalism e.g. definition of unemployment changed to reduce unemployment rate

^ not all OS reflect the nature of capitalism e.g. statistics on illness show class inequality

Feminists - 

reject quantitative survey methods used to gather OS as a patriarchal mode of research

OS created by the state, which maintains patriarchy... they legitimate gender inequality, e.g. housewives are 'economically inactive'

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