• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Examine problems faced by sociologists when using secondary sources in their research.

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

Problems faced by sociologists when using secondary sources. Secondary sources consist of data which hasn't been collected by the sociologist. This data can offer primarily qualitative or quantitative data, and, as such, is useful to both interpretivists and positivists in macro and micro sociological research. The data itself can range from small collections of notes in the form of personal diaries, to historical documents of varying length and focus to large-scale studies conducted by governments or independent researchers. As a result, secondary sources can vary considerably in their size, content and usefulness. Secondary sources often come in the form of historical documents. Like qualitative data from primary sources, secondary sources are often open to a number of interpretations. Historical documents typically rely heavily on inconclusive data: investigations making use of unavailable data (Laslett, 1972 - census) or unrepresentative data (Anderson, 1971) ...read more.

Middle

Another source of secondary data available to sociologists is that provided by the mass media. The media are a convenient source of information, particularly when events which would otherwise be vague or unclear are well documented by newspapers and news channels. However, the media has been criticised by some sociologists for promoting distorted images of society, driven more by ideology than irrefutable and clear cut statistics. For this reason, the mass media is often the subject of content analysis. The four main approaches outlined by Ray Pawson (1995) focus on analysing formal content (objectivity/reliability), bias/ideology, textual (effects and influence of linguistics) and audience (response of public). Sociologists often use secondary sources for practical reasons. This approach is less time consuming and expensive than conducting primary research. ...read more.

Conclusion

in the absence of legal obligation, households would not provide the accurate information recorded in the census which is invaluable as a quantitative source and which would be incredibly difficult for sociologists to obtain independently. However, not all sociologists accept the reliability and validity of all statistics. Some official statistics might offer untrue snippets of reality because they are poorly conducted/underfunded, lack a high response rate (as is often the case with crimes such as rape) or remain widely unknown or classified. In my opinion, secondary sources are a valuable source of information for sociologists. Despite problems posed by perspective and neutrality, sociologists are capable of drawing together various secondary sources which can form the basis of a convincing, cohesive and purposeful argument. Indeed, sociologists with an aptitude for sorting, evaluating and analysing numerous sources can benefit greatly from the wide range of secondary data which is readily available. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Miscellaneous section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Miscellaneous essays

  1. crime and its effects on society

    * Absolute discharge- this is where the offender is found guilty or they have admitted being guilty, but no action is taken against them. * Curfew order- this prevents the individual being out at a certain time or can stop them been in a certain area.

  2. Investigating The Use of Pectinase

    Volume (cm3) Repeat 2nd Repeat Average 30 0 0 0 0.00 60 0 0 0 0.00 90 0 0 0 0.00 120 0 0 0 0.00 150 0 0 0 0.00 180 0 0 0 0.00 210 0 0 0 0.00 240 0 0 0 0.00 270 0 0 0

  1. Examine the problems some sociologists find when using postal questionnaires in their research.

    Moreover, they dispute the validity of postal questionnaires, claiming the subjects are conscious of their involvement in social research, and cannot, therefore, answer frankly or accurately. Further criticism centres on the opinions of subjects themselves: people might feel implored to answer questions despite not having fully formed, justifiable or informed opinions on the topic.

  2. Analyse the factors that influence the interaction undertaken (D2)

    In the group communication my aims weren't as specific as my goals here were to interact with the group effectively completing the end of the book with frequent feedback from the rest of the group throughout it. So my goals at the end were for me to know how much

  1. When We Study History We Are Not Studying The Past But What Historians Have ...

    This argument is based on something that is unavoidable in history, writing style, and it implies that even the writings with the best intention towards accuracy will never truly be impartial as preference and selection are intrinsic to the creation of a historical argument.

  2. Referencing. This essay is going to look at four different methods of research used ...

    than one complete chapter from a book, or one article from a journal or periodical, or a short story or poem not exceeding 10 pages in length published in the above listed countries. Davies G. (2008) General guidelines on copyright.

  1. Discuss research into the explanation of the function of sleep

    apply to non-animals as there are significant differences between species and it is possible that no single hypothesis could cover them all. Ultimately for most people intense exercise may cause them to fall asleep more quickly but it does not cause them to fall asleep for longer which is demonstrated

  2. Subjectivity and Objectivity

    Although, sometimes taken for granted, everybody must love and respect their families, because during difficult times they are the ones that will stand by me no matter what, and they are the ones to whom I will turn for help in times of need.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work