Primary and Secondary Data

Primary and secondary Data

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Primary Data

Primary Data is data which is collected by the sociologist themselves. it is usually obtained by carrying out a social survey, using Questionnaires, or by Participant observation.

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Secondary Data

Secondary Data Is data which already exists and is collected by Secondary Sources.

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Qualitative Secondary sources

Qualitative Secondary Sources can include:

  • Newspapers
  • Novels
  • Literature
  • Art
  • Autobiographies
  • Letters
  • Diaries
  • Radio & TV Programs
  • Parish Registers
  • Historical Documents
  • Previous sociological studies
  • School records
  • Social work Files
  • Police Records
  • Minutes of meetings
  • Official government documents
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Advantages and uses of Qualitative secondary sourc

  • May be the only sources of information in an area e.g. Historical Documents
  • Some interpretivists may wish to gain ideologies of those who produce them. Autobiographies Can be useful for this purpose
  • They may be useful for assessing peoples concerns or worries
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Disadvantages of Qualitative secondary sources

4 criteria for judging secondary data:

  • Authenticity - Is the Data Genuine or a Forgery
  • Credibility - Is the evidence believable, Sincere and honest
  • Representativeness - is the document typical of those appearing in that time
  • Meaning - What do documents mean 
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Content Analysis

  • Content analysis is a way of analysing the content of documents by Quantifying it.
  • This is done by putting the data into Categories then going through the Documents Strategicallyand noting how many times that category came up. 
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Quantitative Secondary Sources

This Data is produced by companies, Charities and Pressure groups. These can include:

  • Census data
  • Birth statistics
  • Marriage statistics
  • Death statistics
  • Social services
  • unemployment statistics
  • Education statistics
  • Crime statistics
  • Health Statistics
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The advantages and uses of official statistics

  • Helpful in evaluating social policy
  • May be the only source of data in one particular area
  • They are readily available and cheap to use 
  • The often cover a large scope so are often representative
  • As they cover large periods of time, it helps look at trends
  • Intergroup and international comparisons can be made 
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Problems of official statistics

  • They are produced by the state, so they may be seen as politically bias 
  • They do not tell the whole story of what happened  
  • Interpretivists argue that statistics are not objective facts but social construction. An example of this is unreported crime because people do not report things to the police as they believe that the crime may be too trivial
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Jay Sullivan


Some spelling and grammar mistakes... But really helpful revision notes =)

Sarah Bird


I do apologize for the grammar and spelling mistakes, but i am so glad you enjoyed this. I have now updated it for you  :) x

Theo Tibbs



Matthew Wilkinson


Jme boy better know

Matthew Wilkinson


all in all good information

Theo Tibbs



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