The YouGov website is a great source for finding examples of social surveys and results from survey data.
YouGov is company which collects mainly survey data on a wide range of topics from people all over the world, and publishes it’s findings on a daily basis.
On their intro page they say ‘YouGov is a community of 4 million people around the world who share their views…. w’ere pretty sure its the largest daily updated database of people’s habits and opinions in the world’ – in addition to the structured survey data, some people also comment on the findings of said data, so you get a more qualitative feel added into the mix.
The data is very easy to access – for example below are YouGov’s latest findings on attitudes towards the children of illegal immigrants:
You can see from the above that we are pretty intolerant of illegal immigrants as a nation, which is one of the advantages of survey data.
You can also ‘drill down’ into the data and find correlations between attitudes and politics/ gender/ age and social class. Below we see that older people are less tolerant than younger people:
The advantages and disadvantages of social surveys
The big strength of this site is that it’s very accessible – you can very easily get some quick ‘facts’ about what people think about a lot of different topics, and you can easily see the correlations between attitudes and other variables such as class and gender.
The information contained in the site is also good for illustrating the limitations of survey data – you don’t really get any depth or explanation of why people hold these views (not even with the comments, because relatively few people comment).
Finally, I really like the fact that you get to see the specific question asked, so you can always bung a particular question, or set of questions on Socrative to check out the reliability with your students!
Positivism, Sociology and Social Research – Positivists like the survey method