Sociology - as Level Unit 2 Research Methods

Topics: Sociology, Scientific method, Sampling Pages: 8 (2029 words) Published: September 30, 2012
Research Methods – Sociology Unit 2
Sociological Approach
Sociological Research is important as it gives a more common sense understanding of the social world in which we live. Quantitative Approach = involves collecting numerical data and social facts establishing correlations (statistical relationship exists between two things) and searching for ‘cause and effect’ relationships (one thing directly leads to the other). Qualitative Approach = sees reality as objective and measurable through statistics. Should understand people’s actions, putting yourself in the shoes of those you research. A people centred approach to research collecting word centred data. Primary Data = collected directly by sociologists as part of their research. Include surveys (questionnaires or interviews), observations and occasionally experiments. Secondary Data = collected by organisations or other people. Include official statistics, previous research, historical and personal documents and diaries. Key Ideas

Use Reliability and Validity to evaluate quality of evidence. Reliable = research is replicable and would get the same result Validity = true to life
* Can be influenced by poor design of procedure, being biased or from drawing unjustified conclusions. Quantitative Research = numbers, large quantities
* High in reliability but low in validity
Qualitative Research = words, in detail
* Higher in validity and lower in reliability
Representativeness and Generalisability
Representativeness = when a sample has the same characteristics as the target population Generalisability = when findings from a sample can be said to reflect the social characteristics of target population or wider society Ethical Issues

Research can have unintended consequences and negatively affect people. Informed Consent = freely given consent by respondents into taking part in research. They should be told about nature and purpose of the research. * Participants should be able to refuse to cooperate and withdraw at any time. Confidentiality = all data should be treated in the strictest confidence and anonymity should be guaranteed. Effects on people being studied = essential participants are neither hurt nor disadvantaged by research. They should ensure no one is affected psychologically, physically or socially. * Likely to happen when researching sensitive areas, e.g. attempted suicide, victims of violence, eating disorders. * When research builds up ‘close’ relationships sociologists should exercise their professional judgement to ensure practice is correct and appropriate. Competence = sociologists should embark upon research in a professional manner. They must take care in avoiding situations that involve breaking the law or engaging in appropriate behaviour. Problems associated with research

Financial = research is expensive, especially if it is over a long period of time and involves a team. Largest provider of research funds is the government but all sociologists sign a contract that can resist that publication of anything that does not reflect government’s values. Time = research can be time consuming adding to expense. Longitudinal research can be terminated prematurely because of lack of funds of participants dropping out. Choice of Method = research situation dictates method most appropriate. * Only practical method of researching a large number of people is through questionnaires. Proximity to respondents = ‘going native’ describes the situation when researchers get very close to respondents so that they effectively become one of them. * This may be good – gaining very valid data

* But can stop researchers thinking objectively and recording data properly. Sampling
Target population = group being studied, can be large (millions). Sampling frame = drawn from a representative list of people within the target audience. Random sampling = simplest form of sample, everyone in sampling frame has an equal...
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