Outline and explain two advantages of choosing overt participant observation as a source of data compared with covert participant observation (10)

How to score 10/10!

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This 10 mark (no item) question could appear at the end of either paper 1, or paper 3.

In this post I consider a ‘top band’ answer (provided by the AQA here) which achieved 10/10.

The Question

Outline and explain two advantages of choosing overt participant observation as a source of data compared with covert participant observation (10)

The Mark Scheme:

outline-explain-10-mark-question-mark-scheme-top-band.png

Note: there are no marks for evaluation on the 10 mark no item questions (there are for the ‘analyse with the item’ 10 mark questions!)

Student Response:

Highlighted to show the different stages of development.

One advantage is that participants are aware you are researching them and so you’re able to write down notes about what you are observing and record it. However, with covert PO you are unable to do so because it would be suspicious, especially if you are observing dangerous ways of life. For example, Venkatesh’s required covert PO as he was unable to write down all the information and relied on retrospective data – from his memory. This means the data could lack validity because he could have forgotten less important aspects from the observation. This issue doesn’t arise with overt observation and so the data is more likely to be valid. 

Overt PO is more objective and can be ethical. The participants are aware that the data is for a study and publication and they are less likely to withdraw. Whereas with covert PO, informed consent has not been collected and participants, after realising they have been deceived may choose to withdraw and not allow the researchers to use the data collected. This means that the data from covert PO may go unpublished and the researcher may have to reconduct another research method, wasting time and energy. 

Examiner Commentary: (10/10 marks)

outline-explain-10-mark-question-full-mark-commentary-2017

KT’s Commentary

  • It seems that the examiners just want you to explicitly compare overt with covert… simple really, punishingly simple.
  • And what was that your teacher told you about case studies?! Obviously here, they matter not at all!

 

 

Source:

Student responses with examiner
commentary
AS AND A-LEVEL
SOCIOLOGY
7193

Reproduced here for educational purposes!

 

 

 

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Outline and explain two arguments against the view that sociology is a science (10)

How to score 10/10!

This 10 mark (no item) question could appear at the end of either paper 1, or paper 3.

In this post I consider a ‘top band’ answer (both are provided by the AQA here) which achieved 10/10.

NB – If you would like to attempt this question BEFORE looking at the full mark response below, then you can review the topic first by clicking here >>> ‘Is sociology a science?‘.

The Question (no item!)

‘Outline and explain two arguments against the view that sociology is a science’ (10)

The Mark Scheme:

A-level-sociology-7192-paper-1-outline-explain-10-mark-scheme

Note: there are no marks for evaluation on the 10 mark no item questions (there are for the ‘analyse with the item’ 10 mark questions!)

Student Response:

Highlighted to show the different stages of development

Interpretivism is the view that sociology is not a science. Interpretivists argue that, because humans think and reflect, scientific methods are inappropriate as they do not allow us to truly understand and dig beneath the surface of behaviours and actions. Unlike objects, which can be analysed using scientific methods, Interpretivists argue that human beings change their behaviour if they know they are being observed, called the Hawthorne Effect, therefore if we want to understand social action, we have to delve into meanings using qualitative, unscientific methods. Interpretivists are subjective, meaning science is not appropriate for sociology in their opinion as it gives objective results and data. Interpretivists argue that the purpose of sociology is to understand human behaviour, no quantify it using scientific methods, therefore it cannot possibly be a science.

Kuhn stated that science is paradigmatic, meaning there is a fixed set of rules and principles which science uses. It is like a set of norms and values and is accepted by all scientists. Therefore, according to Kuhn, sociology is pre-paradigmatic and hasn’t reached the stage where there is a general paradigm shared by most social scientists. This is seen by the fact that sociology has a range of views and theoretical perspectives and there is no agreed set of norms and values. Feminists will always disagree with functionalists. Sociological perspectives may also have internal disagreements such as Merton’s criticism of other functionalists. Those who criticise Kuhn, however, would question whether science itself has a paradigm. Many sciences exist with different sets of paradigms such as psychology

Examiner Commentary: (10/10 marks)

A-level-sociology-7192-paper-1-examiner-commentary

KT’s Commentary

If you’re freaked out by the above response, don’t be: if this wasn’t written by an examiner, it’s written by an outstanding candidate.

Students typically find this topic one of the most difficult, and most answers will come NO WHERE NEAR this standard.

Technically, I don’t think the last sentence should get any marks, because it is not focused on the actual question.

Source:

AQA 2015

Student responses with examiner
commentary
AS AND A-LEVEL
SOCIOLOGY
7191 AND 7192

Reproduced here for educational purposes!

 

 

 

Applying material from Item A, analyse two reasons why situational crime prevention strategies may not be effective in reducing crime (10)

My attempt at a model 10/10 answer for this A-level sociology exam question (crime and deviance topic)

This is the 10 mark question in the crime and deviance section of the AQA’s 2015 Specimen A-level sociology paper 3: Crime and Deviance with Theory and Methods.

I used this question as part of our department’s own paper 3 mock exam this year (February 2018).

In this post I consider a ‘lower middle mark band’ student response (4/10 marks) to this question and the examiner commentary (both are provided by the AQA here) before considering what a ‘top band’ answer might look like.

The Question (with the item!)

sociology exam question

The Mark Scheme:

AQA sociology 10 mark question mark scheme.png

Student Response:

student response.png

Examiner Commentary: (4/10 marks)

sociology examiner commentary.png

A top band answer?

The first problem with situational crime prevention techniques such as installing burglar alarms is that they mail fail to increase the risk of getting caught in the subjective opinion of the burglars.

Many criminals are indeed rational and thus may reason that burglar alarms are ineffective – most members of the general public ignore them after all, and some may even be ‘fake’. There is also the fact that the police may take a long time to respond to an alarm, thus if criminals can act quickly enough, they may ‘calculate’ that they can get away with a smash and grab type robbery before the police respond, thus reducing the likelihood of getting caught.

A more effective form of situational crime prevention, other than a burglar alarm, might be a security guard, which would increase the risk of getting caught significantly as they can simply phone the police if there is any suspicious behaviour nearby.

However, security guards are expensive compared to alarms, and so while those places which hire security guards may be protected, crime will just be displaced to those areas with lesser protection (like ineffective alarms or no alarms’.

Finally, if we apply Felson’s ‘Routine Activity Theory’, we know that criminals ‘size up’ their targets when going about their day to day business, so they know the areas which are the least effectively protected and the least risky…. thus target hardening strategies like those mentioned in item are only going to be effective if all properties. use them equally, which is unlikely.

A second problem with Situational Crime Prevention talked about in item A is that not all crime is a rational decision, some crimes are done on the ‘spur of the moment’, for the ‘thrill of the act’, or out of sheer desperation.

Situational Crime Prevention failed, for example, to prevent the London Riots happening – here many of the rioters engaged in looting and vandalism in order to ‘have fun and join in with the party atmosphere’ despite the fact that all of the properties looted were locked and under surveillance, and there being thousands of police on the streets.

The Riots were also fueled by a sense of injustice at police brutality and economic inequality, which suggests that inequality in society ultimately fuels crime, which can spill-over at flash points, no matter how much one ‘hardens targets’: and target hardening does nothing to address the underlying causes of crime such as injustice and inequality.

Another example of a crime which is not rational is football hooliganism – which increasingly just seems to be about ‘fun’ – ‘teams’ of hooligans arrange fights after the match for thrills, and it is difficult to see how situational crime prevention can reduce this, as it’s just about ‘fun’ rather than ‘reward’ in the eyes of those involved.