Category Archives: Resarch Methods

Evaluating the Usefulness of Official Statistics

Official Statistics are numerical data collected by governments and their agencies. This post examines a ranges of official statistics collected by the United Kingdom government and evaluates their usefulness. The aim of this post is to demonstrate one of the main strengths of official … Continue reading

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Scientific Quantitative Methodology in Sociology

Positivists prefer to the limit themselves the study of objective ‘social facts’ and use statistical data and the comparative method to find correlations, and multivariate analysis to uncover statistically significant ‘causal’ relationships between variables and thus derive the laws of human behaviour. This … Continue reading

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Experiments in Sociology – Revision Notes

Definitions, key features and the theoretical, practical and ethical strengths and limitations of laboratory and field experiments applied to sociology (and psychology). Also covers key terms related to experiments Experiments – The Basics: Definitions/ Key Features Experiments aim to measure … Continue reading

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Milgram’s Obedience Experiment – Strengths and Limitations

Milgram’s obedience experiment is one of the most useful examples to illustrate the strengths and limitations of laboratory experiments in psychology/ sociology, as well as revealing the punishingly depressing findings that people are remarkably passive in the face of authority… This post outlines … Continue reading

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Surveys on Family Life in the UK

Social Surveys are one of the most common methods for routinely collecting data in sociology and the social sciences more generally. There are lots of examples of where we use social surveys throughout the families and households module in the … Continue reading

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Why Do Voting Opinion Polls Get it Wrong So Often?

Surveys which ask how people intend to vote in major elections seem to get it wrong more often than not, but why is this? Taking the averages of all nine first and then final polls for the UK general election … Continue reading

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Research Methods – 4 Mark ‘Outline’ Questions for AS Sociology

One of the questions (worth 4 marks) in the research methods section of the AS sociology 7191 (2) research methods with families and households paper will ask you to ‘outline’ 2 things about any aspect of research methods – below are a … Continue reading

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Outline and Explain Two Theoretical Problems of Using Social Surveys in Social Research

Firstly, social surveys suffer from the imposition problem, closed questions limits what respondents can say Intepretivists argue respondents have diverse motives and it is unlikely that researchers will think up every possible relevant question and every possible, response, thus questionnaires … Continue reading

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Outline and Explain Two Practical Advantages of Using Social Surveys in Social Research (10)

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 … Continue reading

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The strengths and limitations of secondary data

What is secondary data? Information which has been collected previously, by someone else, other than the researcher. Secondary data can either be qualitative, such as diaries, newspapers or government reports, or quantitative, as with official statistics, such as league tables. … Continue reading

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