Critical Review Sociology Research Methods

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Debating the Burka in France: The anti politics of Islamic revival: Parvez, F, Z. (2011).
Word count: 2112 (including references and bibliography)
Word count: Core text (Not including refrences and bibliography): 1597

Critical Review
In order to critically explore and assess the strengths; limitations and problems associated with the methods employed within Z.Parveens study conducted in Les Minguettes in 2011,we must first not only outline these key active research methods, yet also provide an overview of the significant notions and findings from within the paper. Parvez seeks to obtain a qualitative understanding of Islamic movements in France by conducting an ethnographic study spanning over ten months in the “overwhelmingly working-class” (Parvez, 2011, p. 294) suburb of Venissieux just outside the second largest metropolitan city; Lyon. She undertakes the majority of this research in two mosques and her subjects to a large extent are women whom mainly belong to the Salafist branch of Islam. The principal motive from within the paper is the argument that following marginalization from an intrusive state, a culture in which these women do not engage in a form of politics yet into a form of antipolitics has been born. She argues that through their practice, teachings and wearing of the Burka they look to expand their private sphere as opposed to crying out for justice and equality, turning to each other for moral support while placing greater emphasis on their “spiritual state and serenity over material life” (Parvez, 2011, p.308). The units of analysis for the study would be individuals, as researchers tend to explain and describe social groups by outlining and aggregating the behaviour of individuals as opposed to studying the organisation as a whole.

Parvez undertakes the use of theoretical and snowball sampling, typical of a qualitative researcher striving for richness as opposed to transferability within their research. The greatest strength of snowball sampling would be the validity of the data, and due to the fact their is no limit on the number of respondents; one can continue to snowball until she feels theoretical saturation has been reached, and enough data for in-depth analysis has been obtained. However, positivist sociologists would argue that this sampling method is not representative of all Muslims and therefore the inferences the researcher following her findings can easily lead to the ecological fallacy effect “qualitative findings tend to be oriented to the contextual uniqueness and significance of the aspect of the social world being studied.” (Bryman, 2008, p.378). Even though theoretical sampling may indeed be very useful in order to open up a topic for further exploration and provide a clearer insight into a smaller group of individuals problems do indeed arise when positivist sociologists question the objectivity, transferability and generalizability of the sampling method. The fundamental research method employed in this ethnographic study is participant research, in the form of Participant-as-Observer: whereby people are aware of the researchers presence and purpose, and the researcher is involved in routine group situation. The aim of Participant observation is to allow the researcher to see things through the eyes of their participants “Entering into the field as a participant researcher, I intended to take the perspectives of female gamblers, to see the world through their eyes, to feel what they feel, and to experience what they experience”. (Li, 2008, p.103). The researcher triangulates participant observation: complementing it with the use of semi structures interviews. Epistemological interpretevist sociologists such as Max Weber as opposed to more positivist sociologists such as Durkheim would indeed prefer the methods in question as they look to understand the meanings behind social actions rather than quantify and replicate.

The most central research method of...
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