Social Research Methods/Unobtrusive Research
Introduction - Unobtrusive measures are ways of studying social behavior whithout affecting it in the process. Unobtrusive research is simply the methods of studying social behaviorwithout affecting it.
- There are three types of unobtrusive research: Content Analysis Analysis of existing statistics Comparative and historical analysis
Content Analysis - With content analysis you focus on the details of recorded human communications. For example you would analyze a painting a written document, photos, films, and things like face book.
- Appropriate topics include who says what, to whom, why, how, and with what effect.
For example, if our unit of analysis is writers, then we can use units of observation like novels written by them, chapters and paragraphs of the novels, etc.
- Variable identification and measurement in content analysis depend on clarity of the unit of analysis.
- Content Analysis involves coding which may attend to both manifest and latent content. The determination of latent content requires judgements by the researcher.
- Both quantitative and qualitative techniques are appropriate for interpreting content analysis data.
- There are four characteristics that are usually coded in content analysis: 1) Frequency - a count of the number of occurrences of a word, phrase, image, etc 2) Direction - the direction in meaning of the text content (e.g. positive vs negative or active vs passive) 3) Intensity - degree or strength of a text reference 4) Space - the size of the passage, image, or other content
- Strengths of content analysis: -Research poses little to no harm on subjects -Time efficient, cheap -Allows researcher to correct mistakes -Can look at processes occurring over time -Good reliability
- Weaknesses of content analysis: -Limited to what the researcher is able to record -Validity can be limited
- In content analysis we could employ any conventional sampling technique like random, systematic, stratified, or clustered sampling. When concerning sub-sampling, sampling needs not to end with our unit of analysis. For example, if our unit of analysis is writers, then we can use units of observation like novels written by them, chapters and paragraphs of the novels, etc.
Analyzing Existing Statistics - With analysis of existing statistics, your focus would be mainly statistics of different studies without confusing this with secondary analysis which is just obtaining a copy of somebody's data and carrying out ones own analysis.
- When analyzing existing statistics, it may be the main source of data or a supplemental source of data. Most existing statistics come from governments and large intergovernmental organizations. When describing the units of analysis, existing statistics describe groups. You must be aware of the ecological fallacy. This means making assumptions regarding individuals based on characteristics of entire population.
- Whenever we base research on an analysis of data that already exists we’re limited to what exists. The existing data do not cover exactly what we are interested in, and our measurement may not be altogether valid representations of the variables and concepts we want to make conclusions about. Two characteristics of science are used to handle the problem of validity in analysis of existing statistics: logical reasoning and replication.
- Problems of validity in the analysis of existing statistics can often be handled through logical reasoning and replication.
- Existing statistics often have problems of reliability, so they must be used with caution.
Comparative and Historical Research - And lastly comparative and historical research which is the examination of societies (or other social units) over time and in comparison with one another.
- An example of comparative and historical research...
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