Strengths of questionnaires: 

  • Cheap and easy to do so able to reach a large geographically diverse sample- increases representativeness and generalisability. 
  • No researcher present so sensitive topics can be asked about, also can be anonymous- increases validity. 
  • Preferred by positivists because the standardised nature of the questions allow for objectivity and reliability- stats will be generated which can be correlated, patterns and trends can be observed and social facts gained. 

Weaknesses of questionnaires: 

  • Can suffer from a poor question design- biased/leading questions, loaded questions, technical/difficult vocabulary or lack of clear operationalising- decreases validity. 
  • Standardised answers can be off putting and not a true reflection of complex social lives- decreasing validity. 
  • Criticised by interpretivists because they produce data low in validity, standardised questions are not in depth/complex enough for true accounts of social life.

Strengths of content analysis: 

  • It's very cheap so a large amount of data can be analysed- increases representativeness and generalisability. 
  • Quantitative analysis is regarded as reliable as it's objective so sociologists can repeat it- increases reliability. 
  • Preferred by positivists- prefer the comparative nature of the data achieved. High in reliability as objective and easily repeated by the same or another researcher. 

Weaknesses of content analysis: 

  • Can often be very subjective, sociologists who use it have been accused of analysing text out of context- reduces validity. 
  • Media products may only tell us about the personal and political beliefs of those who produce it- reduces validity. 
  • Criticised by interpretivists as it lacks validity as no feelings or opinions are achieved in relation to the product being analysed. 

Strenghts for structured interviews: 

  • Closed questions and fixed choice answers generate large amounts of quantitative data that can easily be put into a table to see a trend and correlations- increases reliability. 
  • Interviewers can explain the aims and objectives of the research- increases validity. 
  • Positivists prefer this because the standardised nature of the questions allow for objectivity and reliability. 

Weaknesses for structured interviews: 

  • Structured interviews are artificial and they can be interview bias- the respondent may reply with suspicion, the interviewer can lead the respondent with the tone of voice/ look of approval/disapproval or react negatively to characteristics of the interviewer- decreases validity. 
  • Inflexibile, can't pursue interesting leads during the interview- decreases valditiy. 
  • Criticised by interpretivists because it lacks validity due to the closed nature of the questions.

Semi structured interviews- strenghts

  • The mixture of open and closed questions allows for the interviewer some flexibility to ask for clarification of vague answers- helping to provide verstehen and validity. 
  • They can jog respondents' memories and ask them to give examples- increasing validity. 
  • Preferred by interpretivists because the mixture of open and closed questions allows the interviewer to ask for clarification and detail which provides verstehen- increasing validity.

Weaknesses for semi structured interviews: 

  • Each interview may be different so not strictly comparable since to some extent, the interviewees are responding to different questions- decreases reliability. 
  • Researcher imposition- social desirability- interviewer effect and interviewer bias decreasing validity. 
  • Criticised by positivists because the same results wouldn't be


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