As well as primary methods of collecting qualitative data we have secondary methods. Such as Documents. They include written texts such as books, letters, emails, newspapers ect. But also things like drawings, films, photos or recorded broadcasts. These are considered to be "other texts". 

Sociologists make use of the following types of document

Public documents - produced by government agencies like schools, businesses and charities. An example is the Macpherson inquiry into the death of stephen lawrence.

Personal documents - these are first person accounts of a persons feelings and attitudes. Things such as diaries, facebook pages, autobiographys. Durkeims study into suicide used these.

Historical documents - simply any personal or public documents from the past.

Practical issues

  • They may be the only available source of information, for example in studying the past
  • They are a free or cheap source of large amounts of information, becuase someone else has already gathered all of them
  • For the same reason, saves the sociologists some time

Practical diffifculties

  • Not always possible to gain acess to them
  • Individuals and organisations create documents for their own purposes, not the sociologists. Therefore they may not contain the answers for the questions sociologists have to ask

Theoretical issues and documents

Interpretivists like them as they give qualitative information about the meanings and feelings of actors. Positivists regard…


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