Sociology Research Methods Detailed

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  • Created by: CJKALMM
  • Created on: 01-03-16 15:04

Lab Experiment

Scientific Method prefered by Positivists as they like rebliable, quantitative data.

They allow a researcher to test a hypothesis by looking for casual relationships between variables e.g relationship between Social Class.

An example of a Lab Experiment is Milgram. In his experiment he lied to his research participants about the purpose of the resaerch, telling them that they were assisting an experiment on learning, in which they were ordered by the research to administer electric shocks when the learner failed to answer questions correctly.In reality the purpose of the research was to test people's willingness to obey orders to inflict pain. Unbeknown to Milgram's research participants, no electric shocks were administered. This holds many ethical issues. It causes harm to participants. It caused the participants to stutter, sweat, laugh nervously and some even had seizures it caused them that must stress.

Other Issues with Lab Experiements are practical and theoretical issues. Practical Problems are that society is complex so it is impossible to control all the vairables. Another is that lab experiments can't be used to study the past. Also small sample sizes can make it difficult for sociolgists to investigate further and it can make the data unrepresentative.

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Independent Variable - This is the variable that can be changed

Dependent Variable

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Field Experiment

A field experiment has two features which means it is different from a lab experiment they are: It takes place in the subject's natural surroundings rather than in an artificialm laboratory environment

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Non-Participant Observation - Watch the reseach take place and make notes / Participant - Take part in the observation

Covert - Undercover / Overt - Open with the group. 

Used by positivists and interpretivists

Collects Primary, Qualitative and Quantitative data

P - Practical - Time and Money - Reseacher Characteristics

E - Ethical - Subject Matter - Protection from Harm (Milgram's study) - Consent

T - Theoretical - Representativeness - Reliable - Validity - Methodological Perspective (Inerp - Posit)

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Obervation Problems

Covert Observation - Difficult going native and being subjective. Hawthorne effect may be at play. Getting in, Staying in, Getting out and Going native can all be problems in covert observation.

Getting In - Researcher Characteristics is important otherwise it can be difficult to get in. You also have to know someone in the group to be able to get in easier. You possibly need consent from gatekeepers to be in the group.

Staying In - Not being found out. Also going native can be a problem because the researcher can start to believe they are one of the group. There might be harm to the research such as police involvement if laws are being broken. Refusal to participant in activities the group do might may cause problems with staying in.

Getting Out - The research won't be able to tell someone what the group have done. Publishing the data can be a problem as they won't be able to add names and if someone from the groups sees it, it could possibly cause problems. When getting out the researcher is going to need a reason for leaving they can;t be there one day and not the next.

Overt Observation - Hawthorne effect can affect your results.

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Observation Advantages



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Random Sampling - The sample is selected by purely by chance. Everyone has an equal opportunity of getting picked for the sample.

Systematic Sampling - Where you pick every nth person for you sample.

Stratified Sampling - The research breaks down the population into equal proportions. e.g. if 20% of the population are under 18 then 20% of the sample have to be under 18

Quota Sampling - Population is stratified as above then each interviewer is given a quota of say 20 females and 20 males and they have to find the respondants.

Snowball Sampling - Talk to someone who has been in a situation and then they talk to friends who have been in the situation and they ask their friends and they ask their friends.

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