It’s possible that a 10 mark question on A level sociology papers 1 or 3 could simply ask you about a ‘pure’ research method, as with the example above.
This post suggests a strategy for how to answer such possible questions and provides one exemplar answer, which I think would get full marks in the exam….
- Make two, distinct points—as different from each other as possible!
- For each of the points, explain, develop it twice, and (if it flows) do a linked evaluation.
- It’s good practice to link to Positivism and Interpretivism and use examples.
Firstly, surveys are a quick and cheap means of gathering data from large numbers of people, across wide areas, because, once sent out, millions of people could potentially fill them at the same time.
They are especially quick/ efficient if put online because computers can analyse pre-coded answers and quantify/ compare the data instantaneously.
They also make it easier to gain government funding because you can generalise from large data sets and thus use to inform social policy—the census, for example, allows the government to plan for school places in the future.
However, Interpretivists would argue you never get in-depth/ valid data with this method, and so predictions can be flawed—the polls on Brexit didn’t tell us what people really thought about this issue!
Secondly, you don’t need ‘people skills’ to use social surveys, thus anyone can use them to do research.
This is because they can be written in advance, and put on-line or sent by post, and thus sociologist’s personal involvement with respondents can be kept to a minimum.
This also means that busy people with family commitments can easily use social surveys.
However, Interpretivists and Feminist argue this wouldn’t be an advantage for all topics—some areas are so sensitive they require personal contact, such as domestic abuse.