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    SociologyExchange.co.uk Shared Resource SociologyExchange.co.uk Shared Resource Document Transcript

    • A2 Sociology: SCLY4[THEORY AND METHODS:WHAT YOU SHOULD ALREADYKNOW]
    • A2 Reviewing Sociological Theory and Research MethodsBelow you will find a list of key issues you should already know andunderstand from AS. If you don’t, now is the time to put that right!What you should know from AS: Sociological TheoryYou should already be familiar with consensus, conflict, structural andsocial action theories.You will need to know these in more detail at A2 therefore; you shouldbegin by recapping what you already know about the main sociologicaltheories, fill in any gaps, then build upon this with more in-depthknowledge and evaluation.You should also understand the concepts of modernity and post-modernity in relation to sociological theory.The main modernist theories are: Functionalism Marxism Interpretivism (Interactionism) FeminismPostmodern Theory: PostmodernismYou will need to know and understand: The main arguments of each theory The important writers and what they say The strengths and weaknesses of each What each theory says about a range of sociological topics (education, culture, media, family, crime?) and what research methods they use. 2
    • Evaluation marks will be gained by then being able to criticise each usingthe other 4 perspectives. This is crucial at A2 level.Theory in the SCLY4 ExamYou could have an essay on any area of sociological theory as identifiedin the specification. Therefore you must know them all just in case! Thisessay is worth 33 marks.Likely questions could include: Assess the usefulness of conflict theories in understanding society today. Assess the contribution of Functionalist theories and research to our understanding of society today. Assess the contribution of feminist perspectives and research to our understanding of society. Evaluate how the concepts of modernity and post-modernity have influenced sociologists’ understanding of society today.The essays could also be on any of the new A2 topics combiningtheory, methods and social policy: If we can agree on what we mean by ‘science’, then we can begin to assess the extent to which sociology is scientific.’ To what extent do sociological arguments and evidence support this view? Evaluate different views of the relationship between sociology and social policy. Assess the view that sociological research cannot and should not be objective and value-free. Evaluate the relationship between the theoretical perspective of the sociologist and their choice of research methods.Remember, SCLY4 is worth 60% of your A2 mark so it is veryimportant that you understand the theory and methods as a wholeas well as the crime and deviance topics. 3
    • Activity: Individually or in pairs, read the chapters on Functionalismand Marxism (Moore (2009: 255-259), Browne (2010:335-349) orHaralambos (2009) and answer the questions below:Functionalism 1. What is the Organic Analogy? 2. In your own words, identify and briefly explain ‘functional prerequisites’ 3. Using Parson’s GAIL model, explain in your own words what is meant by society’s: a. expressive problems b. need for integration c. Instrumental problems d. Need for adaptation 4. Describe Merton’s criticisms of Parson’s theory, making sure you define and understand the concepts of dysfunction; and manifest and latent functions. 5. Provide an evaluation (strengths and weaknesses) of FunctionalismMarxism 6. What are the ‘means of production’ and how do they relate to the ‘relations of production’? 7. Identify 2 Neo-Marxists and briefly explain and evaluate their ideas in relation to traditional Marxism. 8. Evaluate any 2 of either Marxists or Functionalists ideas 9. Explain in your own words what you understand by the following concepts, giving examples to illustrate them: relative autonomy; base and superstructure; hegemony; class-consciousness; exploitation; class conflict. In your own time you should also be making notes on thesetheories for your revision.We will go through any new ideas/theorists together in class. 4
    • Research MethodsBelow you will find a list of key issues you should already know andunderstand from AS. If you don’t, now is the time to put that right!Activity: Individually or in pairs, work through the list to create acomprehensive set of revision notes for each bullet point.What you should know from AS: Methods The difference between qualitative and qualitative data, the advantages and limitations of each, and the type of methods used to obtain them; The difference between primary and secondary sources, and the strengths and limitations of that data obtained from each; The problems of reliability and validity of research evidence; The considerations over ethics that sociologists must consider when carrying out social research; The advantages, uses and limitations of official statistics; The uses and problems of the experimental methods in sociology, including issues of validity and the Hawthorne effect; How the comparative method might be used as a alternative to the experimental one; The main features and stages of the social survey, including pilot surveys; The various sampling methods sociologists use to gain representative samples; The uses, strengths and weaknesses of different types of questionnaire and interview, including the problems of imposing the validly and reliability of these methods; The problem of interviewer bias; 5
    • The uses, strengths and weaknesses of participant and non-participant observation, including the issues of getting in, staying in and getting out, and overt and covert roles; The strengths and weaknesses of longitudinal studies, case studies and life histories; What is meant by methodological pluralism and triangulation, and why sociologists might want to use a range of different methods in sociological research; A range of theoretical, practical and ethical considerations that influence choice of topic, choice of method(s) and the conduct of rea4arch; The difference between positivism and interpretivism, and how these two approaches use different research methods.These notes can be created in the form of written sentences, spidergraphs, bullet points – it’s up to you!Methods in the SCLY4 ExamYou are expected to already know the strengths and weaknesses of eachresearch method from your AS course, at A2 you will be expected toexpand your knowledge and understanding of these methods and be ableto evaluate them in relation to researching a particular aspect of crimeand deviance. This section is worth 24 marks.Likely questions could include: Identify and briefly explain three problems of studying crime using participant observation. Identify and briefly explain three strengths of studying crime by using victimisation studies. Assess the strengths and limitations of using unstructured interviews to study domestic violence. Assess the strengths and limitations of using interviews or official statistics when investigating state and war crimes. 6
    • AnswersFunctionalism 1. What is the Organic Analogy? 2. In your own words, identify and briefly explain ‘functional prerequisites’ The basic needs for the survival of society 3. Using Parson’s GAIL model, explain in your own words what is meant by society’s: a. expressive problems The problem of maintaining cooperation and social solidarity ensuring members of society cooperate with one another without tension and conflict b. need for integration This refers to maintaining social harmony; society responds to potential causes of conflict by providing mechanisms to reduce the conflict – i.e. religion, family, charities c. Instrumental problems Refer to the setting and achieving of social goals and making sure that society enables its members the ability to achieve them d. Need for adaptation Society must respond to the demands of the environment by ensuring that members can access things necessary for survival; i.e providing factories/shops ensures that its members can work and gain economic rewards. 4. Describe Merton’s criticisms of Parson’s theory, making sure you define and understand the concepts of dysfunction; and manifest and latent functions. 7
    • Merton was critical of Parson’s assumption that all society’s institutions performed positive and beneficial functions for society. Merton acknowledged that institutions can also be dysfunctional (harmful) for society, for example religion, families, new technologies. These dysfunctions have the potential to weaken society and cause social problems. Merton maintains that Parsons failed to recognise that institutions can perform manifest functions (with intended and recognized consequences) and also latent functions (unintended or unrecognized consequences) see Brown page 341 re hospitals and concluded that Parson’s analysis of society was far too simple.5. Provide an evaluation of Functionalism Strengths Recognises importance of social structure in understanding society and how it can constrain an individual’s behavior and how the major institutions of family, education, economy often wrok together Provides and explanation for social stability and why people generally conform to social rules. Weaknesses Too deterministic – individuals as passive receivers or socialization and conformity Metanarrative – tries to explain everything from one perspective Ineffective in explaining social change Overemphasizes benefits of institutions and ignores dysfunctions Assume value consensus exists, overemphasises harmony and ignores conflict Conservative – supports status quo – if it exists it’s functional, no need to change 8
    • Marxism 6. What are the ‘means of production’ and how do they relate to the ‘relations of production’? 7. Identify 2 Neo-Marxists and briefly explain and evaluate their ideas in relation to traditional Marxism. 8. Explain in your own words what you understand by the following concepts, giving examples to illustrate them: relative autonomy; base and superstructure; hegemony; class-consciousness; exploitation; class conflict. 9. Provide an evaluation of Marxism 9