Is a working or ‘operational’ definition of a concept that a sociologists wants to measure.
Here’s how you do it: Start with a…
Hypothesis: working-class pupils achieve lower qualifications than middle-class pupils due to lower parental income.
Social class is an abstract concept (we know it exists, but we cannot literally see it)– but most Sociologist would probably use the parents occupation as an indicator of social class to measure their hypothesis.
Once we have that all sussed, then we would begin writing appropriate questions that measure this, like asking the pupils’ parents: ‘what is your job title?’
Then we’d correlate the parents info with students qualifications to see if our hypothesis was in fact correct.
Operationalising: Straight-forward or Problematic?
Many think that operationalising a concept is easy, but then it can run into serious problem, such as:
It is not always obvious what type of job fits into what category of social class.
Typical office worker–
are they working-class (lower) or middle-class?
Disagreements such as this can make it hard to compare findings of different bits of research.