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How far is it true that structural sociologists use only quantitative methods while interpretive sociologists use only qualitative methods

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Introduction

How far is it true that structural sociologists use only quantitative methods while interpretive sociologists use only qualitative methods? The methods that sociologists use to conduct their research vary and can depend on practical considerations such as suitability of the method, and theoretical considerations such as the sociologist's theoretical position. Interpretive sociologists focus on the meanings and definitions which guide and direct behaviour, they claim that understanding human behaviour involves seeing the world through the eyes of those being studied. Structural sociologists can be called positivists. Positivist sociology models itself on the natural sciences such as physics, it is concerned with behaviour that can be directly observed and quantified e.g. the number of visits to the doctors in one year. ...read more.

Middle

Another method favoured by interpretivists is participant observation this is because it gives them the opportunity to see the world from the point of view of those being observed however positivists claim that participant observation is not useful because it produces hardly any quantifiable data, and the number if people observed is too small to provide a representative sample and therefore generalisations can not be made. Positivists favour certain research methods e.g. laboratory experiments because they usually produce quantifiable results but people are likely to define laboratories as artificial and as a result their actions may be very different to their behaviour in the real world. In the same way positivists also favour questionnaires particularly those with closed questions because the results are easily quantifiable, however it can be argued that questionnaires fail to give people the chance to talk about their behaviour as they see it. ...read more.

Conclusion

He says this variety cannot be reduced to "two sociologies". Another criticism of the two sociologies view is that many sociologists use triangulation when carrying out their research. Methodological triangulation comes in two forms, 'with-in' and 'between'. With-in triangulation uses a variety of techniques within the same method, for example using both open and closed questions in a questionnaire. The between triangulation involves using a number of research methods for example questionnaire, participant observation and unstructured interviews. Methodological pluralism also contradicts the idea of 'two sociologies' because it aims to use a variety of methods to build a fuller picture of social life. Sociologists use both quantitative and qualitative methods in order to do this. Therefore in light of Pawson's views, triangulation and methodological pluralism it can be said that it is only true to a certain extent that structural sociologists use quantitative data while interpretative sociologists use qualitative data. ...read more.

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