Sociology- sociological method key words

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Bias
Where the views of the researcher affect the research
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Case study
Research that examines a single case or example, such as a single school pr single family, often using several methods or sources
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Casual relationship
Where there is a relationship between two social events with one causing the other
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Closed ended questions
Questions in a social survey that allow only a limited choice of answers from a pre-set list; often require a very specific reply, such such as 'yes' or 'no'; produce quantitative data and the answers are often pre-coded for ease of analysis
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Cluster sampling
The researcher chooses a series of different places then chooses a sample of people at random from the cluster
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Coding
Questions on a questionnaire are given a code making it easier for a researcher to conduct statistics from them
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Comparative method
A research method that compares two social groups that are alike apart from one factor; comparison across countries or cultures
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Content analysis
A method of analysing the content of documents and media output to find out how often and in what ways certain groups, people and events are represented
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Control group
In experiments, scientists compare a control group and an experimental group that are identical in all respects. The control group is not exposed to the variable under investigation
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Covert observation
Where the sociologist does not admit to being a researcher when observing a group
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Cross-section survey
A survey carried out at one time, not followed up
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Documents
Are two types. Public documents are produced by organisations such as governments, schools, media etc.
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Ethical issues
Moral concerns about the benefits and potential harm of the research to the people being reseached
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Ethnography
The work of sociologists who study societies by living with the people and observing their daily lives
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Experiments
A laboratory experiment is a test carried out in controlled conditions in an artificial setting to establish a cause-effect relationship between two or more variables. Field experiments has the same aim but is carried out in a natural setting
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Feminist sociologist
Sociology that concerns itself with studying the way women are oppressed in society
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Field diary
A detailed record or events, conversations and thoughts kept by participant observers
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Focus group
A group interview where people as a group discuss and explore a topic in depth
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Functionalism
An approach in sociology that stresses that society is based on structures and consensus of values
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Gatekeeper
Someone who can allow a researcher access to a individual, group or event
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Generalisability
If the group chosen by sociologists to be studied are representative of the population as a whole they will be able to make generalistions about the whole of society from that group
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Hawthorn effect
Where the presence of the researcher, changes the behaviour of a group being researched
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Hypothesis
An idea which a researcher guesses might be true but needs testing against evidence
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Imposing problem
Refers to the risk that the researcher, when asking questions, might be imposing their own views on the people being researched - problem in interviews or questionnnaires
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Informed consent
Where those taking part in a study have agreed to do so and understand the purpose of the study and the uses to which the findings may be put
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Interviews
A method of gathering information by asking questions orally, either face-to-face or by telephone.
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Structured interviews
use pre-set questions, standardized, usually closed ended questions producing quantitative data.
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Unstructured interviews
more like a guided conversation and use open ended questions producing qualitative data
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Semi structured interviews
include both types of question
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Interpretivism
Favoring qualitative methods, looking at the point of view of those being studied; interpretivists focus on how we construct our worlds the meanings we create and attach to events.
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Interview schedule
The list of questions to be asked in an interview; makes the interview standardized - all interviews are asking the same question
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Longitudinal study
Study of a sample of people in which information is collected at regular intervals over a period of time
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Marxist sociologist
Stresses the exploitation of the majority of the population by a small and powerful 'ruling' class
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Methodological pluralism
The use of a variety of methods in a single piece of research
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Methodology
The process of undertaking research using sociological methods
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Non-participant observation
A primary research method where the observer records events without taking part in them
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Objectivity
The absence of bias or pre-conceived ideas; when the researcher's values and opinions do not affect their work
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Official statistics
Quantitative data collected by the government
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Open-ended questions
Questions in a social survey that allow respondents to answer as they wish, in their own words; allow respondents to express themselves fully; answers are harder to analyse because they cannot be pre-coded
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operationalising concepts
the process of defining concepts in a way that makes them measurable. e.g. you can't measure 'educational failure' as a concept but you can measure data on pass rates among white working class boys.
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Overt observation
When the sociologist is open about conducting research
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Participant observation
Where the sociologist joins the group of people and studies their behavior
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Pilot survey
A small scale survey carried out before the main one, to iron out any problems
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Positivism
The brief that scientific methods are best for the study of society; society is made up of social facts that can be studied
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Primary data
Information obtained directly by the sociologist
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Qualitative data
Information usually expressed in words about people's thoughts and feelings, point of views/ opinions, written data; obtained from qualitative methods and sources such as participant observation, unstructured interviews, diaries, letters
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Quantitative data
Informal in numerical form, statistical data; data from surveys, official statistics
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Questionnaires
List of questions. Written of self-completion questionnaires are used in large scale social surveys, where they may be sent out by post. They tend to use closed ended questions with pre-coded answers for ease of analysis.
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Quota sampling
A representative sample of the population chosen by using known characteristics
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Random sampling
A representative sample of the population is chosen by entirely random methods
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Reliability
if the same piece were repeated, it would produce the same results, when repeated using identical methods and procedures; in general quantitative methods are more reliable because they use standardized procedures that are easier to replicate.
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Representative
Where the people being studied are a cross section of the society they wish to generalise about; they are typical of a larger group
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Response rate
The proportion of those people included in a social survey who actually respond; a high response rate is important for representative findings
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Sample
A smaller group selected from a larger survey population to take part in a survey
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Sampling
The process of selecting a sample
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Sampling frame
A list used as a source for a random sample
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Secondary data
Information obtained from sources originally collected or created by someone else, e.g. other people's research. diaries, novels, letters, newspapers
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Snowball sampling
A sample is obtained using a series of personal contacts
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Social facts
According to Durkheim, there are phenomena that exist outside individuals that act on them in ways that affect their behavior, e.g. social institutions like the family and education system - social facts can be studied using positivist methods
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Social survey
Any research method that involves systematically collecting information from a group of people by asking them questions - written questionnaires and structured interviews
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Stratified sampling
The population is divided according to known criteria, e.g. sex or age, to make the sample more representative
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Subjectivity
Bias, lack of objectivity
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Systematic sampling
every nth name on a list is chosen
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Theoretical sampling
An untypical sample of the population is chosen to illustrate a particular theory
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Triangulation
The use of two or more methods in a single piece of research to compliment each other; used to check the reliability and validity of the information collected
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Validity
The extent to which data gives a true picture of what is being studied; methods such as participant observation that produce qualitative data are usually seen as high in validity. A valid method is one that gives a truthful picture
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Variables
Any factor that can change or vary, such as age, gender occupation, income. Sociologists seek to discover correlations between variables, e.g. between social class and education achievement. Laboratory experiments are often used to control variables
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Verstehen
The ides of understanding human behavior by putting yourself in the position of those being studied and trying to see things from their point of view.
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Other cards in this set

Card 2

Front

Research that examines a single case or example, such as a single school pr single family, often using several methods or sources

Back

Case study

Card 3

Front

Where there is a relationship between two social events with one causing the other

Back

Preview of the back of card 3

Card 4

Front

Questions in a social survey that allow only a limited choice of answers from a pre-set list; often require a very specific reply, such such as 'yes' or 'no'; produce quantitative data and the answers are often pre-coded for ease of analysis

Back

Preview of the back of card 4

Card 5

Front

The researcher chooses a series of different places then chooses a sample of people at random from the cluster

Back

Preview of the back of card 5
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