Sociology Component 2

  • Created by: megz.n
  • Created on: 18-01-19 12:39

POSITIVIST - Society should be understood using scientific methods of research in order to gain numerical data.

INTERPRETIVIST - People create meanings, so you should study how people interpret the world in order to give meaning to what they do.

REALIST - Sociologists use multiple methods that are both positivist and interpretivist. This is known as multiple methodologies. 

What is the purpose of research?

  • Biological commen sense tends to assume that things are as they are because it is natural. So this overlooks the importance of society. 
  • Individual common sense tends to assume that society is not important, but things are as they are because of indivual people's motivations. 
  • Positivists believe that research should be based on factual, statistical data. It should be objective and value free so that there is a concentration on facts. These would contain more closed questions. Eg. How old are you? What is your job? 
  • Interpretivists believe that the purpose of research is to understand how people give meaning to social life. They believe that the understanding of meaning and emotions lie behind actions, and look deeper into reasoning. These would contain more open questions. Eg. Why do you have the attitude you have? Why do you behave the way you do?
  • Realists argue that society is complex and there are multiple ways of understanding social behaviour. So multiple methodologies were introduced so both quantititve and qualititive data was collected. 

Quantitative data refers to information that appears in numerical form, or in the form of statistics.

Qualitative data refers to information that appears in written, visual or audio form, such as transcripts of interviews, newspapers and web sites.

A researcher could collect data in two different ways - through primary or secondary methods. 

Primary Research is research that is done by the researcher themselves. If a researcher is conducting a unique study, they will have their own questions they have so it allows them to explore that. The main methods for this are social surveys, questionnaires, interviews, experiments, etc. An example of primary research may be Paul Willis on why working class lads get working class jobs.

Secondary Research is the research that has been collected by previous researchers or organisations that another researcher may use to help interpret their own data. An example of secondary research is Emile Durkheim's study of suicide, looking at statistics from Europe to help justify positivst approaches and also suggest that social orgins have an effect on suicide rates. 

When evaluating research methods, there are 6 key concepts to decide if it is badly designed if it is subject to bias or worthlessness. Eg. If a researcher is discriminative and produces research that would try and justify that. 

-Generalisability is whether or not the piece of research could be applied when looking at another similar setting. Eg. Gangs in northern wales compared to gangs in London.

-Reliability refers to whether a piece of research could be repeated and produce the same or similar results.


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