Examine the Disadvantages Some Sociologists May Find When Using Official Statistics in Their Research

Topics: Sociology, Marxism, Statistics Pages: 2 (557 words) Published: April 8, 2013
Examine the disadvantages some sociologists may find when using official statistics in their research

Official statistics are a secondary method of gaining data which are highly supported by Positivists but not so much by Interpretivists for a variety of reasons. The usages of official statistics come with many disadvantages as well as advantages.

One reason Positivists support the use of official statistics is that they allow quantitative data to be gathered. However, Interpretivists, such as Maxwell Atkinson argue that due to this, qualitative data cannot be gathered which can reduce the validity of the findings. Sociologists cannot find meanings nor gain insight about sociological topics of interest through the use of official statistics.

Official statistics are produced from a variety of reasons, for example to see the number of racist cases in schools. However, certain topics of interest for a sociologist may not have any official statistics available. Due to this, sociologists would need to find another means of research.

Most, if not all, official statistics are produced by the Government. This may not allow accessibility to certain sociologists for their research which will not allow research to commence. This is because some of the official statistic figures may only be of use to certain organisations or institutions such as schools or hospitals.

Official statistics are based on certain definitions that are familiar to society. For example, racism is defined as being prejudice against a particular race. This delimitation is known nationally. However, sometimes, governments can change these definitions and so they do not match the sociologist’s definition of racism, for example. Due to this, the official statistics produced do not actually account for what the sociologist is interested in. This, therefore, reduces the validity of the official statistics as they may not be real. Also, certain definitions may be misunderstood, which can...
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