intro to research meths
Transcript intro to research meths
Sociologists use a range of methods to
Many Sociologists think the purpose of
Sociology is to make policy proposals
based on research.
POSITIVISM – The Scientific
Positivism is used by all Sociologists but
mainly structural approaches like
Functionalism and Marxism
• Collection of Primary data through:
Questionnaires, Structured Interviews,Content
• Use of secondary data like official statistics
which have already been gathered e.g ONS,
• The data produced is QUANTITATIVE –
• DFE statistics show that 80% of students from
wealthy backgrounds achieve 5+ GCSES A*-C
whereas only 35% of children on free school
meals achieve 5 GCSES.
• This shows a social pattern BUT, is doesn’t tell
us much about the experiences of children
from low-income families.
Interpretivism – the
Interpretivists argue Sociology can’t be
objective because Sociologists are human
beings studying other human beings.
What did you look at
me like that for, you
They understand the social world through
exploring the meanings and motivations of
others, using their own experience & verstehen.
Interpretivist approach is used by
many sociologists but mostly
Interactionists, feminists and post
• Collection of primary data through:
Observation of small groups, Semi or
• Use of secondary data through use of Personal
documents like diaries.
• Data produced is QUALITATIVE – rich text with
themes about the behaviour of those studied.
• Paul Willis (1977) conducted observation of a
group of working class lads at school. He
found that educational failure was related to
an anti-school (laddish) culture that was at
odds with the very middle-class environment
• Turn to Sociological Research Methods page
Complete questions a and b in your
The different research methods produce
different types of data with their own
strengths and limitations.
Key concerns in research. When we evaluate
how well a piece of research has been carried
out we consider the following things.
• Can the results of the study be applied to
• E.g if you studied knife crime in Torquay could
you apply the findings to the whole of UK?
• Does the sample of people you studied
accurately represent the target population.
• E.g If you are studying anti-social behaviour of
young people but only studied boys, your
sample would not represent ‘young people’
• Has the study correctly defined what they are
• E.g If you wanted to study happiness but
defined this as having Sky television it would
not be a very accurate study!
• This therefore affects the validity of your
• This is related to the accuracy and truthfulness
of your findings.
• E.g If you went to lower school and asked
everyone whether or not they smoked you
would probably find that 100% said no!
• OBJECTIVITY is important as if there are biases
in your research it will not be valid
• British Sociological Association have
guidelines which must be followed.
• Informed Consent
• Privacy/confidentiality of participants
• Protection from harm caused by potential
deception, embarrassment etc
• Right to withdraw from the study
• This is about the way the data is collected.
• If it is a consistent measure such as a
questionnaire with yes/no answers then
another sociologists could repeat the study
and get similar results.
• If is say an interview/conversation then
another sociologists might get different results
and the study might be unreliable.
A little Test
• In pairs test each other on the meanings of
the terms in GROVER.
Work in groups to produce an
outline of how you would study
one of the following.
• Experiences of education of black males
• Links between gender and academic
• Experiences of youth offenders
• Childhood suicide and wealth of family
• Geographical area and use of drugs
• Experience of youth unemployment
Decisions to make
• Theoretical background – quantitative or
• How will you operationalise the concepts?
• What you predict you might find – a
• Method to use
• How to get your participants
Famous Studies in Sociology
• Work in groups to research one of the
following studies and create a poster showing
the Aim, Method, Findings and some
• James Patrick – A Glasgow Gang Observed
• Eileen Barker – The making of a Moonie
• Paul Willis – Learning to Labour
• Laud Humphreys – Tearoom Trade
• Philip Zimbardo – Stanford Prison Study