Using material from Item A and elsewhere, assess the strengths and limitations of using participant observation as a means of investigating the experience of old age
"Older people form an increasingly large social group. With improved life expectancy and health care, this trend is set to continue. Older people often experience discrimination, disadvantage and loss of status; perhaps the most common stereotypes of the old are that they are useless of present a problem to society. Other difficulties for older people may include:
- declining health, limited mobility and increasing dependency on others
- loss of contact with family, friends and social networks
- having to live in a care home
However, many people enjoy a good quality of life: this may be because they enjoy retirement. For these older people, this time of life can mean more leisure time and more time to spend with family."
Using material from Item B and elsewhere, assess the strengths and limitations of using official statistics as a means of investigating differing life chances of minority ethnic groups
"The UK today is increasingly multi-ethnic. For example, in 2005, National Statistics showed that 10.9% of the population of England were from non-white ethnic groups.
Individuals' life chances re linked to their ethnicity. For example in the UK, members of black ethnic groups are more likely to experience unemployment, low pay and poor housing than are members of the white majority.
It is claimed that such disadvantages are the product of racial discrimination. However, life chances for those of minority ethnic backgrounds may depend not only on their ethnicity but also on their social class and gender.
Problems may arise both when defining ethnic groups and when allocating individuals to particular groups. This is especially true for individuals of mixed heritage."
Using material from Item C and elsewhere, assess the strengths and limitatitions of written questionaires as a means of investigating experiences of disability
"There are many disabled people in the UK today, and the effects of disability on their lifestyles and life chances vary widely. However, in general, people with disabilities are more likely to be unemployed and less well educated than the average citizen.
The term 'disability' covers a very wide range of conditions, both physical and mental. Some disabled people have full time carers, or may live in 'institutions', while many find themselves isolated by the attitudes of others and by a society that turns their impairment into exclusion - for example by not making buildings and transport accessible to wheelchair-users.
However, partly because of campaigns by disabled activists seeking justice and equality, legislation has now begun to bring greater rights and opportunities for disabled people than in the past"
Using material from Item D and elsewhere, assess the strengths and limitations of structured interviews as a means of investigating social class position.
"Everyone has a coail class position, and most people are aware of this fact. Class affects many basic aspects of people's lives, such as educational and income levels. Many studies have shown correlations between class and a range of life chances such as these. Almost everyone in the UK identifies themselves as a member of a class. This British Social Attitudes Survey found that, although fewer people today see themselves as working-class, they remain a majority (57%), while 37% identify themselves as middle class.
However, this subjective social class does not always correspond with the 'objective' class to which sociologists assign individuals on the basis of their occupation. Nevertheless, occupation is widely used to operationalise class in empirical research. Awareness of class affects social interaction. Individuals often prefer the company of people of the same class, and feel uncomfortable interacting with those of a different class. Views of class can change according to circumstances. For example, a worker sittingat home may see class differently from when he or she is at a strike meeting with fellow workers"
Using material from item E and elsewhere, assess the strengths and limitations of using written questionnaires as a means of investigating the effects of poverty on life chances.
"A low class position is often associated with poverty. A household is deemed to be in poverty if its income is less than 60% of average household income for the year in question. In 2008/9, by this definition, 13.1 million people in the UK were living in poverty. The number of people in deepest poverty, with a household income below 40% of the average, was 5.8 million. Poverty can have a major effect on life chances. Those living in poverty are more likely to suffer from poor health and lack of access to essential services. Poorer people are more likely to feel stigmatised and socially excluded.
In 2009, there was the first rise for over a decade in participation in the proportion of 11 year olds not reaching basic levels of literacy and numeracy. This rise was more prounounced in literacy than in numeracy and among schools with high proportions of children eligible for free school meals. Life chances for those in poverty may depend not only on their class but also on their ethnicity and gender."
Using material from Item F and elsewhere, assess the strengths and limitations of uing unstructured interviews as a means of investigating the relationship between domestic responsibilities and career opportunities.
"Despite many changes in the position of women over the past 30 years, there are still differences between the life chances of men and women in society. Often the differences relate to women's domestic responsibilities and how these link to their career opportunities. Women rarely have a choice in the nature of their domestic role and, when combined with work outside the home, this can lead to women feeling resentful.
The social role of women means women are more likely to: be in part-time employment, be responsible for childcare, have male bosses.
Men, on the other hand, are less likely to have the main responsibility for domestic duties or childcare, and are therefore unlikely to take a career break for childrearing. This may impact on a prospective employer's decision about which gender to employ. Career opportunities for women may depend not just on their gender but also on their social class and their ethnicity."
Using material from Item G and elsewhere, assess the strengths and limitations of using structured interviews as a means of investifating the experiences of the underclass.
"New Right thinkers see the underclass as a separate social class with its own distinct culture. They believe that members of the underclass are likely to; be unwilling to work and prefer to live on state benefits, have failed in education and training, be inadequately or inappropraitely socialised, live in lone-parent families and engage in delinquent or criminal behaviour.
However, other sociologists argue that members of the underclass have similar attitudes, values and aspirations to the rest of society. Wider economic or structural factors, such a high unemployment, determind their position in the stratification system. Members of the underclass may see their position as unfair and caused by the actions of others, and they may welcome the chance to talk about their situation."
Using material from Item H and elsewhere, assess the strengths and limitations of using unstructured interviews as a means of investigating the meaning of independence for young people with disabilities.
"For young people with disabilities, independence is often more complex than for those who have no disability. Young people with disabilities may have very different life chancees and experiences from those without disability. Physical or mental impairments may mean that young people are more reliant on parents and carers.
Equally, for the parents of these young people, having a disabled child may mean changes to their lives. There is a wide range of disabilities, both physical and mental. Those with physical disabilities may experience lack of moblitity, sight or hearing. Disability may mean that young people are less able to take part in activities in and out of school. In some cases, young people may live in institutions and may experience a sense of isolation.
The way they are viewed by their peers may also cause low self-esteem. Often, young people with disabilities feel vulnerable and stigmatised. Howeverm, many young people with disabilities feel determined to overcome their disability."
Using material from Item I and elsewhere, asses the strengths and limitations of using field experiments as a means of investigating the effects of racial discrimination on the life chances of minority ethnic groups.
"A person's ethnicity will have an impact on his or her life chances. Some minority ethnic groups are treated differently in education and employment. Discrimination may also affect access to housing or other services. This difference in treatment may be as a result of racial discrimination. Racial discrimination may affect different ethnic groups in different ways. In education, Chinese students are known to have high achievement rates and so may be treated differently from members of other ethnic groups. An individual's life chances may also be affected by his or her gender and social class."
Using material from Item J and elsewhere, assess the strengths and limitations of using written questionnaires as a means of investigating employment as a measure of social class.
"Social class is an important factor in determining and individual's life chances. There are a number of factors that can be used to measure social class, including employment. When employment if used to measure social class, this is usually in the form of occupational groups. However, occupations may be classified in the same group despite offering different rewards and social status. Furthermore, the classification of an occupation may change over time. Some occupations may even disappear altogether and new occupations will arise.
The National Statistics Socio-Economic Classification (NS-SEC) attempts to give a more comprehensive measure of social class by looking at occupations in relation to a wide range of factors. These include consideration of job security, supervisory responsibility, and rewards such as pensions.