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Access the strengths and limitations of using the secondary sources of data

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´╗┐Access the strengths and limitations of using the secondary sources of data? Secondary sources consist of data that have already been produced , often by people other than sociologists. The secondary sources used by sociologists may be contemporary or historical and the data available from them may be primarily qualitative or quantitative. They are invaluable to sociologists, but they have to be used with great caution. Their reliability and validity are open to questioning and often they fail to provide exactly the information required by a Sociologist. Nevertheless, like all reserch methods and sources of data those methods prefer to use, secondary sources of data too are subjected to critical judgement. And so, they also have their strengths and limitations that define heir importance or limitation of use. In order to judge whether or not the source of data to be used would give the most accurate results, depends on certain basic conceptsthat need to be kept into account which would allow the evaluation of the quality of data. ...read more.


However, some sociologists specifically the interpretivists do not accept the reliability and validity of official statistic data. They reject the use of statistics on the basis of their belief that statistics are the product of the meanings and taken-for-granted assumptions of those who construct them. Cicourel and Atkinson (as phenomenologists) regard officiall statistics as social creation therefore, chaleenging the objectivity they claim to provide. On other hand, conflict sociologists argue that official statistics are neither hard facts, nor subjective meanings. Instead they cosist of information which is systematically distorted by power structures in society. They believe that the collection ofthese data is manipulated by those in power so that they tend to favour the interest of the powerful. Despite all criticisms, sociologists regard official statistics useful because they are relatively an unobtrusive measure of social life which means that they avoid the interference of demand charecteristics of those being observed. Furthermore, it is generally accepted that official statistics provide useful data on the phenomena they measure. ...read more.


These may be largely quantitaive, largely qualitative, or combine both approach. Formal content analysis is one of the four approaches of analysing data. It emphasises upon objectivity and reliability and work towards the collection of systematic sample of text in order to identify different features of this text. The method is reliable because other researchers can repeat the same technique to check the findings. The data called can also be replicated to carry out comparitive studies. The simplicity and reliability of quantitative content analysis makes it appealing. However, this approach follows an assumption that the audience are simply pasive consumers of the message and no attempt is made regarding the interpretation of the message in the text. Secondly, the thematic analysis is aimed at discovering the ideological biases of those involved in the production of mass media. Critics of such studies argue that they are a non-scientific approach and tend to use examples selectively that fits the preferred interpretation of the researcher. Conclusively, all secondary sources have their own strengths and limitations. Their use and the effectiveness of that use depends on the theoretical and practical approach of the sociologist. ...read more.

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