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By WelshKids1 Apr 18, 2013 1146 Words
b.As an A Level Sociology student you have been asked to design a research project to collect qualitative data on experiences of crime amongst a sample of young people in your area

My aim is to gain qualitative data on experiences of crime amongst a sample of young people in my area. The type of crime I will be looking at amongst young people is underage drinking. This will help to operationalize the concept because everyone may not understand what is seen as ‘crime’. So therefore my aim is to find out if there is a large number of young people who drink underage and if so how often do they drink. This will be primary data meaning that it is the most reliable and unbiased form of data as I am able to gain a first-hand experience of the research. To gain this qualitative data I will use unstructured interviews. I will use this method to obtain my data because it provides an in-depth insight into the participant’s thoughts and feelings about the chosen topic. This method is also very flexible as the interviewer can ask the participant to elaborate on their answer so that they can gain a more detail answer. Because these interviews are natural and unrestricted because they are conversation-like the participant feels more relaxed and therefore provides the interviewer with more information revealing more about themselves. A reason why qualitative data is best suited to this topic is because it enhances understanding to the researcher of the complexity of the issue being asked about. It also provides rich, in-depth, holistic data allowing the participants to speak in their own words without restrictions. I am going to use the Interpretivists view because they would prefer this type of data. This is because they favour qualitative data as they conduct research looking at the deeper meaning and context of the subject. The look at how people interact in society, their beliefs and feelings, how they think, what they feel and what they understand about the world. They take the view that since human beings think and reflect, Scientific methods are inappropriate for the study of society which is what I am looking at in my research. Unlike objects in nature, human beings can change their behaviour if they know they are being observed. They favour methods such as non-participant observation, participant observation, unstructured interviews, diaries, focus groups, Convenience, snowball & theoretical sampling, all of which generate an in-depth understanding of the participants feelings and thoughts. Positivism is the view that sociology can and should use the methods of the natural sciences. That doesn’t usually mean using experiments because there are many ethical problems with doing that, but positivists do believe that sociologists should use quantitative methods and aim to identify and measure social structures. I wouldn’t use the positivist view because they favour quantitative data and believe that everything can be measured. Positivists say that it is possible to classify social facts and then count them in order to produce statistics. The theorists favour methods such as official statistics, surverys and experiments, all of which generate quantitative data that is measured and easily replicated. Before I begin my research I will start some background research into official government statistics and police records to see the percentage of young people who have been arrested or had a letter sent home for being drunk and disorderly or being in the possession of alcohol whilst on the streets. This background data will involve looking at secondary data. A major disadvantage of using secondary data is that it may not answer the researcher’s specific research questions or contain specific information that the researcher would like to have. A related problem is that the variables may have been defined or categorized differently than the researcher would have chosen. For example, age may have been collected in categories rather than as a continuous variable, or race may be defined as “White” and “Other” instead of containing every major race category. To conduct this data I need a representative sample of the wider population. To do this I will use school records or children aged 13-16. I will use stratified sampling, this is because I want to divide the participants into categories according to age, gender and class. My sample size will be 200 pupils. An advantage of this sampling method is that is an advancement on a Random Sample, by ensuring that you get participants from each category, but select those participants at random. However, Samples are often influenced by the researcher in order to get equal representation of each group, which may not be an accurate reflection of the wider population. Having a representative sample increases the data’s reliability as the data can be generalised to the wider population. Some of the ethical issues that may occur whilst conducting this research is consent, I must gain informed consent from the parents so that they know the full extent and the aims of the research. Also, harm may come into effect, if a child started drinking from a young age there may be a reason behind it that may bring back negative memories and cause the child psychological harm, so we therefore need to be sensitive when asking questions. Another ethical issue is confidentiality, we need to ensure that both participants and parents are aware that all data is confidential and no names will be used within the data only their results. A practical issue that may arise is time; unstructed interviews are time consuming and require a trained, skilful interviewer to conduct the interview. Therefore I will have to employ more interviewers as the sample size is too large for one person to interview. This will cost money as the assistants will have to be paid for their work, in effect this will increase the final cost of the whole study. Throughout the study in must be unbiased, to do this I must Ensure that the research participants are independent and treated with respect so that they are protected from exploitation. This ensures that people are not selected based on a desire to prove a specific research objective. I must also avoid becoming focused on one viewpoint when observing participants as this endangers the impartiality of the research reducing its validity and reliability. In conclusion I think that the main aspect of my research is very unbiased and will provide in-depth information into my aim of the study. All in all the generalizability of the research is high as I have participants from a range of age groups, social classes and both males and females meaning that the reliability is high. However some methodological issues may arise involving time and how many assistant interviewers I will need in order to complete my research in a short period of time.

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