Two ways globalisation has influenced religious beliefs and practices of ethnic minorities

Below is a question and answer to one 10 mark question on the AQA’s 7192/2 Topics Paper: Beliefs in Society section.

The Question

Outline and explain two ways in which globalisation may have influenced religious beliefs and practices of minority ethnic groups in the UK (10)

My thoughts on the question

This is NOT a good question. It’s what I call a technical question. By this I mean there is VERY little you can say, hardly any ability to use theories concepts which are directly relevant to both the specific parts of the question.

You have to be REALLY careful to make the links between chain in the logic of your answer, see below.

The Mark Scheme

NB you can see from the mark scheme that they’re not expecting too much. The fact that you need to analyse by comparing to non ethnic minorities which ISN’T about the question shows how tough this is.

This is in COMPLETE CONTRAST to how you would normally answer a 10 mark question, which would be 100% focus on the two parts of the question, in this case globalisastion and Ethnic Minorities.

Seems like the AQA are changing the way they mark these papers year on year.

An answer which should get you 10/10

One aspect of globalisation is increasing migration of ethnic minorities to the UK.

The 1950s – 1970s saw relatively high levels of migration from the Caribbean and Asia, and ethnic minorities generally had higher levels of religiosity. 

Cultural Defence theory argued that ethnic minorities turned to religion as a source of both comfort and identity in the face of hostility from the white British population. Thus initially cultural defence theory argues globalisation results in ethnic minorities in the UK being MORE religious. 

For Asian communities mosques, for example, were mainly attended by ethnic minorities only, and this remains the case largely today. Thus one consequence of globalisation is more segregated religious communities. 

We possibly see evidence of this where Caribbean migrants were concerned. They were not made to feel welcome in mainstream British churches and so formed their own Pentecostal churches. 

According to the 2011 Census and other surveys, Muslims, Sikhs and Hindhus are between 2-3 times more likely to practice their religion than white Christians, and black Christians are 3 times more likely to attend church than white Christians. Thus religion is clearly more important. 

The higher levels of religiosity among ethnic minorities in the UK also suggests that secular aspects of globalisation haven’t impacted them as much as White Britons. 

Point Two…

A second aspect of globalisation is the increasing interconnectedness of the media which means ethnic minorities within the UK have more information about religious practices and beliefs abroad.

The global media is more likely to report on news events which are sensationalist, such as when Fundamentalist groups engage in terrorist attacks abroad.

This may have encouraged some minority ethnic groups to hide aspects of their traditional religious practices for fear of a backlash from the British public. For example some Muslim girls may be less inclined to wear headscarves, both male and female Muslims may pray less if this makes them stand out at work or school for the same reasons. 

On the other hand Fundamentalist views spread on social media may attract some ethnic minorities and lead them into extremist practices. The possibility of increased radicalisation has led to the PREVENT agenda in schools, which means Muslims especially are under increased surveillance. Some Muslim groups work with authorities to try to deradicalise people, this is very much a change in practices because of globalisation. 

However increased targeted surveillance may mean some Muslim children feel persecuted which may radicaliSe them further. These views may well remain hidden for years and result in unexpected extreme radical practices, such as with Shemina Begum leaving the country to join ISIS. 

Another religiously related global event we know about because of the media is the Israel-Palestine war, and although mainly political, this is most definitely related to religion. This has led to tensions between Jews and Muslims in the UK, increasing divisions for the most part, polarising religious views. 

So globalisation of the media has resulted in increasing differentiation of religious views in the UK among ethnic minority groups as some get more extreme and others maybe hide away aspects of their religious practice to not attract attention. 

Find out more and related posts

Mark Scheme for this paper is here. If you follow the links back the AQA also has a model answer of its own for this question which gets 9/10!

Reasons why Ethnic Minorities have higher levels of religiosity.

Exams, Essays and Short Answer Questions – Further exam advice for A-level sociology including paper 2!

Evaluate group interviews to investigate subject choices made by pupils

This methods in context question came up in the June 2022 A-level sociology education with theory and methods paper. 

Below I include the item, a plan and a possible response. NB this isn’t an easy question IMO!

The Item and Question 

Read Item C below and answer the question that follows

As well as compulsory subjects at school, pupils can often choose optional ones. Pupils may choose different subjects for a variety of reasons. They may have a personal interest or talent in a subject or act on the basis of advice given by parents, professionals working within schools or others. However, there are patterns in subject choices linked to class, gender and ethnicity which could result from factors external to schools. 

One way of studying differences in the subject choices made by pupils is to use group interviews. This type of interview can encourage deeper thought as participants can develop ideas put forward by other group members. However, participants may be influenced by peer pressure. Furthermore, some pupils, teachers and parents may find it difficult to find a time to meet as a group.

Applying material from Item C and your knowledge of research methods, evaluate the strengths and limitations of using group interviews to investigate the reasons for subject choices made by pupils.

Hints for Methods in Context Questions 

The difficulty with Methods in Context questions is keeping three things in mind at once:

  1. The specific topic as elaborated on by the item – in this case subject choice. 
  2. The research contexts – where and who you are researching. 
  3. The theoretical, practical and ethical strengths and limitations of the specific method – in this case group interviews.  

The easiest way to do this is to highlight the main points in the item and then do quick bullet points for the contexts and method. 

For example my plan to cover would look something like this: 

Topic (subject choice)Contexts Method – Group interviews
– Personal interest/ talent
-Advice from parents/ teachers/ others
– External factors (home, socialisation/ poverty/ culture)
-Influence of class, gender, ethnicity. 
– Who… pupils/ teachers/ parents. Mixture of the above 
– Practical – access/ time. 
-Theoretical – validity, reliability, representativeness.
-Also ethical factors such as consent.
  • I would then start with each of the four things on the left and TRY and relate them to BOTH context and then practical, ethnical, and theoretical issues. 
  • Then Contexts in relation to the method (and the topic)
  • And finally if you have time start with the method and relate to the other two. 
  • Try to not repeat yourself, but if you do it doesn’t matter, there are no points for style, but do make sure you have a conclusion!
  • Careful NOT to just recycle what’s in the item. 

This is NOT an easy question to answer!!! 

For more information on how to answer questions on methods in context

I briefly cover group interviews here

Evaluate group interviews to investigate subject choices made by pupils

Suggested answer below…

(First a reminder of the question AND item!)

an item for an A-level sociology methods in context exam question.

One of the general strengths of group interviews is it allows for respondents to bounce ideas off each other. This means you could get more in-depth answers than when interviewing individuals. It also allows for respondents to check each other’s answers for accuracy. A group interview can also be like a conversation, where the respondents are talking among themselves, which is natural. If the researcher is skilled they may even drift into the background. The researcher can also check group dynamics to know when to interject and possibly detect if respondents are exaggerating or lying based on the responses of others. All of this means group interviews should have relatively high validity. 

However these strengths may not apply when researching this particular topic of subject choice. 

If you are researching small groups of students and trying to find out their personal motives for choosing say science, or maths or performing arts, for example, they may not be forthcoming with their real motives if those motives are not perceived as being acceptable to peers. Embarrassment may prevent individuals from telling the truth in a group setting because of peer pressure. 

Similarly ideas about what is acceptable or cool may result in students in a group giving you what they see as socially desirable motives rather than their actual motives. For example among boys it might be desirable to make a lot of money, so that might be the reason given for choosing economics, rather than them just being interested in the subject.

Validity may further be reduced by the types of student, as mentioned in the item. Working class boys are more likely to see taking an interest in school as cool, thus you are less likely to get valid information about students liking a subject as the motive. However with middle class boys it is more acceptable to express interest in school work. 

Where parental influence is concerned it may be seen as shameful to admit this in front of one’s peers, so this method wouldn’t be good here. 

Girls are more comfortable with conversational settings and discussing their feelings, thus you are more likely to get valid information about why girls choose their subjects compared to boys. 

The mix of different classes, different genders and ethnicities in the group would also influence the results. In terms of reliability, it would be more difficult to repeat if you had a mixture because you may not be able to get the same mix in other schools. 

Thus if you want reliability, you might want to do research on just boys and girls from one class background and ethnicity. 

Another way of doing this would be to research on a subject by subject basis, and ask students why they chose that subject, here you would probably get more specific information compared to asking students in general. 

Another possible way of getting validity in group settings might be to get all the boys, for example, who chose typically girls subjects, they might be more willing to open up if they are with other students who have chosen subjects outside of their gender domain. .

You can also research with parents and teachers, the latter may be able to tell you their take on why students choose different subjects. In terms of researching parents I think you’d have little to gain because they don’t necessarily know their children’s real reasons, and they could be just as unwilling to open up about their role in subject choice in a group. 

From a practical point of view you would have to do these interviews in school, it’s going to be difficult to get groups of students together outside. This means you’d need to get past the headmaster, the teacher, gain parental consent ideally, it would be tricky practically. 

And students would either need to agree to stay after school or be given time off lessons. 

Group interviews would be quicker than individual interviews initially, you could research up to 5 students, any more and some students may clam up or sit back given the size of the group, but it would take a long time to transcribe. 

You would be able to interview dozens of students in say a week, in one school, using this method, so it’s good for representativeness. 

Ethically this allows for students to speak for themselves. 

It might be best to do this BEFORE students take their subject choices, that way students are more likely to be open about pressure, and it might make them think more about making choices independently. This could be a good method for improving reflexivity in the research process. 

In conclusion I don’t think this is a good method for researching this topic, it is too sensitive to reasonably expect students to open up about it. 

However if you were to be very selective and select all the non typical students who have chosen one subject it could work to yield valid, if not very representative data. 

Thoughts on this question 

It is not an easy question. This is mainly because this is not a particularly good method for this topic. Also it’s one of the LEAST interesting topics for students to have to think about. 

Because of these two factors, it is precisely the kind of question that will give you that empty and numb feeling. Especially in the exam you might well sit there and feel a sense of dredd. You might feel angry: ‘what is the point of this’? I think this and I’m a teacher INTERESTED in this kind of stuff. I can only imagine how bad this must have been for an average A-level student. 

For the most part the examiners have provided some pretty good questions over the last few years. THIS is an exception, you just had to suck it up and get on with it! 

But it is what it is. 


For more information on how to answer questions on methods in context

For more general advise on all sociology exam papers.

Mark Scheme for 2022 paper 7192/1

The examiners report June 2022 for paper 7292/1

Applying material from Item C and your knowledge, evaluate the view that conflict approaches are more useful than consensus approaches to our understanding of society (20)

How to get full marks for a 20 mark theory essay in A-level sociology

Below is an example of an abbreviated (by me) marked response to the 20 mark theory essay which came up in the 2017 A-level sociology paper.

The specific question under investigation in this case is: ‘Applying material from Item C and your knowledge, evaluate the view that conflict approaches are more useful than consensus approaches to our understanding of society’ (20).

For general advice about how to answer the whole of paper three please see this post on ‘the 2017 crime and deviance with theory and methods’ paper.

The example is taken from the 2017 Education with Theory and Methods Paper (paper and mark schemes available from the AQA website).

The Question with Item 

AQA Sociology 20 mark essay mark Scheme

The Mark Scheme (top band only)

AQA Sociology 20 mark essay mark Scheme 2

Student Response:

Sociology is divided between conflict and consensus approaches. The former believe there is harmony in society because of shared values (Functionalists), the later believe society is not harmonious but based on a division between a dominant and subordinate group (Marxists/ Feminists)

Some sociologists argue conflict approaches are more useful than consensus approaches for understanding society – Marxists view society as a conflict between the Bourgeosie (ruling class) and proletariat. They argue there is no harmony because the former exploit the later to create profit and keep their businesses running. The proletariat feel frustrated and alienated because they don’t control the means of production and technological advancement means many are losing their jobs and being made redundant. This all serves the interests of the ruling class who look for new, innovative ways to increase their profits. Marxists argue that certain aspects of society which appear functional are simply a false consciousness – making it appear the Bourgeoisie care about their workers but in reality they don’t for example health and safety laws exist so the proletariat are fit to keep working. However, Marxism only looks at the economic contribution of society and argues that all other institutions are influenced by the economy. Yet many would disagree, arguing that the purpose of the family or religion is to provide comfort, not profit for the Bourgeoisie.

Moreover, labelling theory also argue that conflict approaches act as a better understanding to society than consensus approaches. As an action theory, it argues that if we believe that an event is real, then it will have real consequences. Therefor they look at labelling in society and how there is link between conflict and power (item C) – an individual is given a label in society which influences their behaviour. Becker found that if a student is labelled as deviant then they are more likely to underachieve in school because they accepted that label as a self-fulfilling prophecy. When labels are given from those in higher authority, then they become a master status and become a dominant feature of the individual, which can lead to a deviant career. This also happens with certain crimes – e.g. those with the drug label are more likely to have the crime and the label enforced. However, LT is criticized for not taking into account wider structural features of society such as how capitalism influences people’s behaviour.

However consensus theories are critical (repeats question)… they argue societies are based on shared values and value consensus which allows institutions to harmoniously work together (item C). Parsons argues that this is because of functional prerequisites. Firstly there is economic adaptation to society to meet the economic needs of members, there is goal attainment where society create goals and allocates resources to these goals – the role of government. Then there is integration so the different institutions can meet share goals – the media, education, religion. Finally there is latency where the family socialises individuals into shared norms that society needs: instrumental and expressive role. Thus society hasn’t collapsed because it has a shared value system.

However, functionalism is criticised by postmodernists because it has an absolutist view of society as being functional for all. It neglects the fact that society is fragmented and diverse and the rise of different social movements like black lives matter or Feminism contradict the view that individuals form cohesive communities.

In conclusion it seems Functionalism as a consensus theory has relatively good ideas… for example that social change in society is a result of increasing complexity of society and to ensure that society doesn’t move into a state of anomie so equilibrium occur, different bits of society adapting to compensate.

However conflict theory seems more useful in understanding our society where there is complexity and no longer individuals who follow the same norms and values but rather join different groups which enhance their individual personal beliefs.

Examiner Commentary:

Well, at least one student’s been paying attention for the last couple of years!

Mark: 20/20


This post has primarily been written to help students revise for their A-level sociology exams.

For more revision help please see this page: Exams, essays and Short Answer Questions.

This is a similar question applied to Crime: Evaluate Consensus Theories of Crime.

Please click here to return to the homepage –


Feedback on the Examinations
Student responses and commentaries: Paper 1 7192/3 Crime and Deviance with Theory and Methods
Published: Autumn 2017

Analyse two ways in which deviant subcultures may respond to the difficulties of achieving mainstream goals (10)

How to get full marks for a 10 mark ‘item’ question in sociology A-level.

Below is an example of an abbreviated (by me) marked response to a 10 mark ‘analyse with the item question’ which achieved a top band-mark, 10/10 in fact!

For general hints and tips on how to answer all questions across paper three please click h

The example is taken from the 2017 Education with Theory and Methods Paper (paper and mark schemes available from the AQA website).

The Question with Item 

crime deviance 10 mark question.png

The Mark Scheme (top band only)


Student Response:

Point one

One way deviant subcultures may respond to the difficulties of achieving mainstream goals is by offering alternative ways of attaining success. Cohen found that working class boys often felt a strain to achieve in the middle class education system.

This is because the education system did not offer them equal chance of attaining mainstream goals (item A) because it not have the same norms as them and the boys experienced a culture clash.

As a result the boys responded by creating a subculture which revolved around an alternative status hierarchy, valuing hostility and spite, rewarding behavior mainstream society condemned.

They wanted the same goals as the middle class: status and success but their inability to attain so led them to achieving status from their peers through truanting and vandalism.

This means that deviant subcultures look for different ways to attain mainstream goals when the opportunities to do so are taken from them. However, Cohen is criticized for assuming that the working class boys all had the same shared goals: not all of them considered themselves a failure.

Point two

Cloward and Ohlin argue that not all deviant subcultures respond to the difficulties of achieving mainstream goals in the same way. They argue that the neighbourhood a person lives in creates different types of subculture in response to attaining goals.

Unstable neighbourhoods (item A) can reproduce criminal subcultures, creating an apprenticeship for crime and allowing people to socialise with adult criminals, meaning that children turn to utilitarian crime such as theft to achieve consumerist goals.

On the other hand, deprived neighbourhoods create conflict subcultures where high rates of unemployment and social disintegration mean people turn towards non utilitarian crime due to frustration. This means people turn to crime out of frustration, not to gain status.

However, this is deterministic, as not all people from deprived neighbourhoods turn to crime.

Examiner Commentary:

Mark: 10/10

crime deviance 10 mark question comments

KT’s commentary:

  • This looks like overkill to me, I would have thought this is easily 10/10!
  • Note that you can still achieve full marks while referring to dated sociology!


Feedback on the Examinations
Student responses and commentaries: Paper 1 7192/3 Crime and Deviance with Theory and Methods
Published: Autumn 2017

Research Methods Practice Questions for A-level sociology

AQA A-level sociology Papers 1 and 3 will both contain an ‘outline and explain’ 10 mark (no item) question on sociological theories, and/ or methods.

One possible format for this question is what I like to think of as the ‘pure research methods’ format (‘classic’ might be a better word than ‘pure’) in which students are asked to outline and explain two theoretical, practical or ethical advantages or problems of using one of the main research methods.

For example (taken from the AQA’s June 2017 Education with Theory and Methods paper): ‘Outline and explain two problems of using documents in social research’

There are actually 36 possible variations of such ‘pure’ or ‘classic’ research methods questions, as outlined in the flow chart below.

Outline and Explain 10 mark research methods questions

Students may be asked to give two advantages or problems of any of the above methods, or more specific methods (field experiments for example), or they may be asked to give two advantages of using overt compared to covert participant observation, or asked to simply give two ethical problems which you may encounter when doing research more generally.

Then of course, students may be asked to relate methods to theories, or just asked about a pure ‘theoretical’/ perspectives question.

While there is no guarantee that this particular format of question will actually come up on either paper 1 or 3, it’s still good practice for students to work through a number of such questions as revision practice.

Outline and explain two social changes which may explain the decline of marriage in recent decades (10)

A model answer for a 10 mark ‘outline and explain’ question on the AQA’s A level sociology paper 2 (families and households)

A model answer to a possible 10 mark ‘outline and explain’ question, written for the A-level sociology AQA A-level paper 7192/2: topics within sociology: families and households section).


Outline and explain two social changes which may explain the decline of marriage in recent decades (10) 

outline explain decline marriage.png

Model Answer

The first social factor is in more depth than the second. 

Economic changes such as the increasing cost of housing and the increasing cost of weddings may explain the decline of marriage:

Young adults stay living with their parents longer to save up for a mortgage, often into their 30s. Men especially might feel embarrassed to marry if they still live with their parents, because it’s not very ‘masculine’. This also reflects the importance changing gender roles: now women are taking on the ‘breadwinner role’, there’s no obvious need to marry a man. This applies especially to low income earning, working class men.

Furthermore, it’s often a choice between ‘marriage’ or ‘house deposit’: most people just co-habit because they can’t afford to get married. People would rather by a house because ‘material security’ is more important than the ‘security of marriage’. People also fail to save for weddings because of the pressure to consume in postmodern society. However, this only applies to those who want a big ‘traditional’ wedding, which costs £15K.

The significance of economic factors criticise the postmodernist view that marriage declining is simply a matter of ‘free-choice’.

A Second reason for the decline of marriage is secularisation, or the decline of religion in society.

Christianity, for example emphasises that marriage is a sacred union for life before God, and that sex should only take place within marriage. With the decline of religion, social values have shifted so that it is now acceptable to have sex before marriage, and with more than one partner, meaning that dating, serial monogamy and cohabitation have all replaced marriage to a large extent.

The decline of religion also reflects the fact that marriage today is not about ‘pleasing society’, it is simply about pleasing the two individuals within the relationship, the ‘pure relationship’ is now the norm, and people no longer feel like they need God’s approval of their relationshp, so there is less social pressure to get married.

However, this trend does vary by ethnicity, and Muslims, Hindus and Jews within Britain are all much more likely to get married in a religious ceremony.

Visual Version for social change one:

AQA Sociology exam practice questions 10 marks

Other posts you may find useful:

Possible 10 Mark Analyse Questions Derived from the AQA’s A Level Sociology Specification: Education Section

I’m just in the process of re-examining the AQA’s ‘specification’/ vaguefication* for the sociology of education section to get a better idea of what kind of 10 mark ‘analyse’ questions might come up.

In case you don’t know (and you wouldn’t know this unless you’ve been on a course run by the AQA) a 10 mark ‘analyse’ question will take any aspect from any two of the bullet points in the AQA’s specification and ask you to make the links between them (with reference to a small item)….

Now… IF you’re already aware of this, then you probably know that there’s four main topic areas listed under the education specification/ vagueficiation, hence it’s quite easy to think up some nice combination questions taken from across these four bullet points.

HOWEVER, this might not be the limit of 10 mark question combinations – because under the education section of the A-level specification/ vagueification there is also specific reference to the ‘6 core themes’ of socialisation, power etc… so this might open up the possible of an even greater array of 10 markers.

A few possible 10 mark analyse questions:

  • Using material from Item A (remember there will be an item!) analyse two ways in which the functions of education have changed due to globalization.
  • Using material from Item A, analyse two ways in which selection policies might  have influenced the process of teacher labeling.
  • Using material from Item A, analyse two ways in which the privatization of education has affected the way in which different ethnic groups experience school.
  • Using material from Item A and elsewhere , analyse two criticisms  of the view that the hidden curriculum in schools helps to reproduce economic inequalities in wider society.
  • Using material from Item A and elsewhere, analyse two ways in which education policies might help overcome some of the disadvantages boys face as a result of gendered socialization practices.

I know some of these are just horrible, but remember, that the AQA has a burning hatred of all teenagers, and at least the above questions make sense, unlike some which have come up previously!

A reminder of the AQA’s specification for the education section of A-level paper one: 

The study of the topics in this paper should engage students in theoretical debate while encouraging an active involvement with the research process.

The study should foster a critical awareness of contemporary social processes and change, and draw together the knowledge, understanding and skills learnt in different aspects of the course.

In their study of the topics, students should examine:

  • topic areas in relation to the two core themes (socialisation, culture and identity; and social differentiation, power and stratification)
  • both the evidence of and the sociological explanations for the content listed in the topic areas below.

Throughout, students should be encouraged to use examples drawn from their own experience of small-scale research.

Attention should be given to drawing out links with other topics studied in this specification

4.1.1 Education

Students are expected to be familiar with sociological explanations of the following content:

  • the role and functions of the education system, including its relationship to the economy and to class structure
  • differential educational achievement of social groups by social class, gender and ethnicity in contemporary society
  • relationships and processes within schools, with particular reference to teacher/pupil relationships, pupil identities and subcultures, the hidden curriculum, and the organisation of teaching and learning
  • the significance of educational policies, including policies of selection, marketisation and privatisation, and policies to achieve greater equality of opportunity or outcome, for an understanding of the structure, role, impact and experience of and access to education; the impact of globalisation on educational policy.

*I prefer the term vagueification because this ‘specification’ doesn’t actually give us a precise idea about what might come up in the exam – nowhere in the above specification does it explicitly state you need to know (for example) about ‘Chinese’ students or ‘compensatory education’, yet these have both come up in previous exam papers. Thus this specification gives you a vague idea of what might come up, not a specific idea. To get a more specific idea, you need to spend a few years teaching or examining A level sociology, read the four main text books and and intuit the advice circulating about the content of A-level. 

Outline three functions which education might perform for society (6)

This is an  example of a relatively straight forward 6 mark question which might appear on the AQA’s A level paper 1 (7192/1).

  • If you require a more detailed breakdown of paper 1 please click here.

The basic approach to answering 6 mark ‘outline’ questions is to think of them as 1+1 questions – in this case identify a function (for 1 mark) and then explain how education performs that function (for +1). Repeat this 3 times, and you have 3*(1+1) = 6/6 marks.

You should spend no more than 9 minutes on this question (a minute and a half per mark).

A ‘function’ of education is something education (mainly schools) does; a purpose it fulfills, or a goal it contributes towards achieving.

Below are some (1+1) suggestions as to how you might successfully answer this question.

Outline three functions which the education might perform for society (6)

  • Getting students ready for work – school does this by starting off teaching basic reading and writing, which most jobs require, and later on by giving students specific job related skills – such as biology gets you ready for a career in medicine.
  • Education creates social solidarity which is where we all feel as if we are part of something bigger, working towards the collective good – school does this by teaching everyone the same history and literature, which helps to forge a sense of national identity.
  • Education maintains social order, performing a social control function – it does this through requiring that all students attend and through surveillance, any student who does not conform is subject to disciplinary procedures, thus learning to stick to the rules in later life.

Related Posts

I’ve basically taken the above from the Functionalist Perspective on the role of education in society.

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 Interpretivists argue respondents have diverse motives and it is unlikely that researchers will think up every possible relevant question and every possible, response, thus questionnaires will lack validity.

This is especially true for more complex topics such as religions belief – ticking the ‘Christian’ box can mean many different things to many different people, for example.

Interpretivists thus say that surveys are socially constructed—they don’t reflect reality, but the interests of researchers

However, this is easily rectified by including a section at the end of questionnaires in which respondents can write their explanations.

Secondly, self-completion surveys can also suffer from poor representativeness…

Postal questionnaires can suffer from a low response rate, and samples might be self-selecting— due to the illiterate or people who might be ashamed/ scared to return questionnaires on sensitive topics.

Also, you can’t check who has filled them in, so surveys may actually misrepresent the target population.

However, it is possible to rectify this with incentives and booster samples.

The above is a suggested response to a possible 10 mark ‘pure methods’ question which might come up on either paper 1 or 3 of the AQA’s A Level Sociology Papers. It follows the basic formula – make a point, develop it twice, and then evaluate it (which to my mind seems to work well for ‘pure methods’ 10 mark questions. 

Theory and Methods A Level Sociology Revision Bundle 

If you like this sort of thing, then you might like my Theory and Methods Revision Bundle – specifically designed to get students through the theory and methods sections of  A level sociology papers 1 and 3.

Contents include:

  • 74 pages of revision notes
  • 15 mind maps on various topics within theory and methods
  • Five theory and methods essays
  • ‘How to write methods in context essays’.

Evaluate Sociological Perspectives on Vocational Education (30)

Evaluations in italics!

Vocational Education refers to teaching people the specific knowledge and skills to prepare them for a particular career. Vocational Education can either be on the job training – such as with apprenticeships, or courses focused on a particular career in a college (typically 16-19).

The New Right introduced Vocational Educational in the 1980s. At the time they argued that Britain needed job-related training in order to combat high levels of unemployment at that time, and in order to prepare young people for a range of new jobs emerging with new technologies, and to make them more competitive in a globalising economy.

Two vocational policies the New Right introduced were National Vocational Qualifications (NVQs) and the Youth Training Scheme (YTS). The former involved building a portfolio of evidence to prove you had the specific skills necessary for a job, and the later involved on the job training, in which trainees received a small wage, funded by the government.

At first glance, the expansion of Vocational Education in the 1980s seems to support the Functionalist view of education – as it seems be about getting people ready for work and performing the function of ‘role allocation’ more effectively, however, there were a number of criticisms of early Vocationalism

Two criticisms of these policies were that NVQs were seen by many as an inferior qualification to the more academic ‘A’ level subjects, and much on the job training was of a low quality because it wasn’t very well regulated – some trainees were basically just glorified tea boys (according to research by Marxist sociologist Dan Finn in the 1980s.)

New Labour expanded Vocational Education, seeing it as a way to provide individuals with the training needed to be competitive in a globalised Post-Fordist, high skilled/ high waged economy.

The main plank of Labour’s Vocational Policy was The New Deal for young people which Provided some kind of guaranteed training for any 18-24 year old who had been unemployed for more than 6 months. This was set up in 1998 and initially cost £3.5 billion. Employers were offered a government subsidy to take on people under 25 who had been unemployed for more than 6 months. By March 2003 almost 1 million people had started the New Deal, and 40% of them had moved on to full-time unsubsidised jobs.

A second central aspect of New Labour’s Vocational Policy was the introduction of The Modern Apprenticeships scheme in 2002.There are many different levels of Apprenticeships in a huge range of industries, and they typically involve on the job training in sectors ranging from tourism to engineering. Those undertaking them are paid a small wage, which varies with age, while undertaking training.

Some of the early modern apprenticships were criticised for being exploitative – some companies simply hired workers to a 6 week training course and then sacked them and rehired more trainees as a means of getting cheap labour. However, overall, apprenticeships have been a huge success and there are now hundreds of thousands of people who do them in any one year.

A third strand of New Labour’s Vocational Policy was The Introduction of Vocational A levels –Today, the most commonly recognised type of Vocational A level is the BTEC – Which Edexcel defines as being ‘designed as specialist work-related qualifications and are available in a range of sectors like business, engineering and ICT. A number of BTECs are recognised as Technical Certificates and form part of the Apprenticeship Framework.’

While the purpose of this was to try and eradicate the traditional vocational-academic divide it was mostly working class children went down the vocational route, while middle class children did A levels, which many middle class parents regard as the only ‘proper qualifications’, and from a broadly Marxist analysis Vocational Education simply reinforces the class divide.

In conclusion, the fact that Vocational Education has gradually been extended over the years suggests that successive governments see it as playing an important role in our society, especially in getting children ready for work and providing them with the type of skills our economy needs. It is also clear that a number of children simply are not suited to a purely academic education, so in an increasingly diverse society, it is likely to have a continued role to play. However, we also need to recognise that there are problems with it, such as with unscrupulous employers using on the job training as a means of getting cheap labour, so steps need to be taken to ensure it is effectively regulated.