factors influencing choice of methods

practical- time and money
different methods require different amounts of time and money- for example, large scale surveys may employ dozens of interviewers and cost lots of money
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practical- personal skills
Each sociologist possesses different personal skills, and this may affect their ability to use different methods- parcipant observation requires ability to mix with others and recall infomation
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practical- subject matter
may be harder to study a particular group or subject by one method- written questionnaires useless for those who cannot read
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ethical- confidentiality and privacy
researchers should keep the identity of research patricipants secret to prevent possible negative effects-
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ethical- effects on research partcipants
researchers need to be aware of the possible effects of their work on those they study e.g social exclusion, psychological damage
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ethical- vulnerable groups
special care should be taken where research participants are particularly vulnerable because of their age, disability or health- when studying children, must have regard for issues of child protection
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theoretical issues- validity
a valid method is one that produces a true picture of what someone is really like, it allows the researcher to get closer to the truth
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theoretical issues- reliability
a reliable method is one which when repeated by another researcheer. gives the same results
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theoretical issues- represenativeness
whether or ot the people we study are a typical cross-section of the group we are studying
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what is primary data?
infomation collected by sociologists themselves for their own purposes
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primary data collecting methods
surveys, participant observation, experiments
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advantage and disadvantage of using primary data
sociologists can precisely gather the infomation they need for their specific research/costly and time consuming
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what is secondary data?
infomation that has been collected or created by someone else for their own purposes, but other sociologists can use
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secondary data sources
offical statistics, documents
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advantage and disadvantage of secondary data
quick and cheap as someone else has produced infomation/not always precise to persons investigation
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what is quantitative data?
infomation in a numerical form e.g offical statistics on GCSE passrate
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what is qualitative data?
gives a feel for what something is like and provide descriptions of peoples feelings and experiences e.g what it feels like to get a divorce
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methodological perspective-positivists
prefer quantitative data, seek to discover patterns of behaviour, see sociology as a science
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methodological perspective- inperpretvists
prefer qualitative data, seek to understand the social interactions and there meanings, reject the view that sociology is a science
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who takes a positivist approach?
functionlists and marxists- see society as a large-scale/macro-level structure that shapes our behaviour
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who takes a interpretivist approach?
interactionists, who take a micro-level view of society, focusing on small scale, face to face interactions
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Card 2

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Each sociologist possesses different personal skills, and this may affect their ability to use different methods- parcipant observation requires ability to mix with others and recall infomation

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practical- personal skills

Card 3

Front

may be harder to study a particular group or subject by one method- written questionnaires useless for those who cannot read

Back

Preview of the back of card 3

Card 4

Front

researchers should keep the identity of research patricipants secret to prevent possible negative effects-

Back

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Card 5

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researchers need to be aware of the possible effects of their work on those they study e.g social exclusion, psychological damage

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