Research Methods: Topic 2

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Primary and Secondary data

  • Primary data: Those which are collected by sociologists themeselves; can be obained by carrying out a social survey, using questionnaires and interviews 
  • Secondary data: Those which the sociologists carrying out the research has not gathered themseleves, but which already exists 

Qualitative secondary sources:

-Advantages qualitative secondary sources: Are useful for interpretivists, who wish to gain insights into the worldview, useful for assesing people's concerns

-Disadvatages of qualitative secondary sources: Scott, "In a matter of records, 1990" Judging criteria for SD- Authenticity,Credibility, representiveness, and meaning

-Content Anaylsis: RM that produces primary quantitative data, from the study of qualitative secondary soruce

-Advantages of Content Anaylsis: Cheap, no involvement with people, reliable

-Disadvantages of Content Anaylsis: Mainly concerened with describing what is being studied, Interepretation may differ form one researcher to the next

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Primary and Secondary data

Quantitative Secondary Sources: 

-Include a huge range of statistical data produced by groups like companies, charities, and pressure groups

-Major source of such data: OFFICIAL STATISTICS- Collected by the national and local goverment (Census data)

-Advantages of offical statistics: Important for planning & evaluating social policy, frequently only data available source of data, readily available and cheap, representative- Large sample, cover a long time span, allow intergroup & international comparisons, avoid ethical issues-publically available 

-Disadavantages of official statistics: OS can't be taken at face valve-They are socially constructed- Maybe politically biased, produced by the state- May be "massaged", OS collected for administrative purposes rather than for purposes of sociological research, Interpretivists- Statistics are not objective facts but simply social constructions

EG: Suicide Statisics (Atkinson), Health statistics- inaccurate?, Crime statistics- Do not show full extent of crime in society

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