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SociologyExchange.co.uk Shared Resource SociologyExchange.co.uk Shared Resource Presentation Transcript

  • SECONDARY SOURCES EXPERIMENTS, OFFICIAL STATISTICS AND DOCUMENTS
  • EXPERIMENTS
    • Positivists believe sociological research should be carried out in the same manner as the natural sciences
    • They believe that quantitative methods are the best for achieving reliable data and remaining objective
    • laboratory
    • Test hypothesis
    • Find out cause and effect
    • Controlled environments/artificial setting
    • http://www.sociology.org.uk/as4aqa.htm
  • KEYWORDS
    • CONTROL GROUP- Everything (variables) kept the same
    • EXPERIMENT GROUP – manipulates the variables in order to see the cause and effect
    CONTROL EXPERIMENTAL
  • Cause & effect
    • INDEPENDANT VARIABLE – is the variable whose cause brings forward the change in dependant variables
    • DEPENDANT VARIABLE - is dependant on the changes brought by the independent variable
  • ALTERNATIVES TO EXPERIEMENTS
    • FEILD EXPERIEMENT
    • Experiments outside the laboratory – in natural settings
    • COMPARATIVE
  • OFFICIAL STATISTICS
    • GOVERMENT
    • CENSUS
    • DEMOGRAPHY statistical study of human society. birth and death rates , marriages and divorce rates , crime rates , employment and unemployment rate
    • http://www.statistics.gov.uk/
  • DOCUMENTS
    • Refers to any written text , personal diaries , government reports , newspapers, letters, paintings , sounds and images from film .
    • PUBLIC DOCUMENTS – government , schools , charities
    • PERSONAL DOCUMENTS – letters, diaries , photo albums and autobiographies
    • HISTORICAL DOCUMENTS – personal or public document created in past
  • JOHN SCOTTS (1990) ASSESSING DOCUMENTS
    • John Scott offers a 4 point check list for documents of all kinds.
    • Authenticity – Is it a genuine piece of writing, does it fit in with other secondary sources from around the same time?
    • Credibility – Is the author sincere, and how do you know?
    • Representativeness – Is it typical of the time/place etc. this can be difficult to assess if documents from the same era are rare.
    • Meaning – This can relate to the literal meaning of the text, problems with the language etc. But also the symbolic meanings, are these clear?
  • Content analysis
    • Objective way of classifying and quantifying a document’s contents
    • e.g. how many female roles are displayed in a child’s book
    • These are simply counted and interpreted
  • Examples of Documents being used in sociological research
    • 1. Max Weber – 1905 study of Calvinist protestants – used diaries to uncover belief, thoughts and attitudes of Calvinist – led to his book “The Protestant Work Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism”
    • 2. Valerie Hey 1997 “The Company She Keeps” an investigation into the friendship groups of school girls” – Hey studied the notes girls past between each other in lessons behind the teacher’s back in combination with diaries and participant observation
  • OTHER TYPES
    • CASE STUDIES – Detailed examination of a single case such as a school , family or a study of one individual
    • LONGITUDINAL STUDIES- a study that follows the same sample or group over a long period of time
    • 7 up series
    • LIFE HISTORIES – case studies of individuals , how they construct and interpret their life worlds .
    • TRIANGULATION- combination of methods
    • Since the 1990s especially, sociologists have tended to use the terms triangulation or methodological pluralism to describe mixing different methods.
    • Often these terms are used interchangeably. However, they do not mean exactly the same thing.
    Triangulation – Methodological Pluralism
    • Triangulation
    • can be defined as the use of more than one method of research in order to assess the validity of one’s research methods and especially of the data produced.
    • Usually, it involves the use of a method which generates quantitative data – this may be primary data from a survey or secondary data from official sources.
    • More often than not, this is combined with a more interactive method such as unstructured interviews or observation, which generate qualitative data.
  • Methodological pluralism
    • refers to the employment by the social researcher of more than one method of research, but the emphasis here is not on the validity of the data, as with triangulation.
    • Rather, it is to build up a fuller and more comprehensive picture of social life.
    • For example, I might be interested in the distinction between what people say they do and what they actually do. I can acquire information by using interviews to explore what people think, say and believe and then use observation to find out whether they put what they say into practice or not.
    • The two methods elicit different types of data and also act as a form of check on the reliability of the methods used. Such an approach is useful because the advantages of one method may help compensate for, and at least partially overcome, the limitations of another
  • Eileen Barker – Making Of A Moonie 1984
    • In the 1970’s Barker studied the Unification Church (Moonies)
    • They had been accused of brainwashing and breaking up families
    • http://onlineclassroom.tv/sociology/catalogue/classic_collection/eileen_barker_-_the_making_of_a_moonie
    • Famous for mass weddings – only 60,000 at this one
    • These intended spouses were 1000’s of miles away so sent a pic instead!
    • Barker used 3 main methods
    • In-depth interviews (6-8 hrs)
    • Participant Observation (at several centres over the 7 years)
    • 42 page questionnaire
    • Her research lasted 7 years
    • She believed her approach gave her much fuller information than any one data source could have done.
  •