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Assess the strengths and limitations of using official statistics for investigating the effects of material deprivation on educational achievement.

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Introduction

Assess the strengths and limitations of using official statistics for investigating the effects of material deprivation on educational achievement. Material deprivation is a complex issue when linked to educational achievement. Although it is widely accepted that greater material deprivation is inextricably linked to poorer educational achievement, the finer points and relationships within the subject are highly debatable. Additional problems are posed when investigating the issue; although official statistics have numerous benefits, there are draw backs with secondary sources which are usually associated with validity, reliability, accuracy and representativeness. Official statistics, in sociological research, are secondary sources originally produced and published by official sources such as the government, and they provide large-scale statistical data. Low income is directly with underachievement. A poor home environment is detrimental to educational success: lack of resources to cover hidden costs, lack of educational toys/extra curricular activities and a poor diet all contribute to a reduced academic performance. ...read more.

Middle

When studying this, sociologists must combine official statistics with more qualitative data; so, although (from a positivist perspective) this offers a complete structural picture (as location and quality of schools can be discerned through OFSTED reports, which draw on the advantages of being well funded, objective and reliable), the information provided by official statistics must be correctly analysed and collated in order to form a credible argument. They benefit from the defining strength of most secondary sources: official statistics are inexpensive and readily available and accessible. Census data is the product of a �400 million project, and sociologists would otherwise be incapable of accessing such data. The inclusion and consideration of such large scale studies adds balance to a study, with standardised, nation-wide research lending the text credibility and a more objective, all encompassing structuralist element. Nevertheless, a sociologist must draw together numerous statistics and sources when developing an argument. ...read more.

Conclusion

Such discrepancies with official statistics can invalidate research conducted by governments/schools/sociologists; ultimately, this research forms the basis of sociologist's investigation and argument - sourcing inaccurate information would discredit and undermine the working hypothesis and, consequently, the results would be invalid. In conclusion, I believe official statistics can be very useful when investigating the effects of material deprivation on educational achievement. In my opinion, they must be properly used in conjunction with qualitative data collected through unstructured interviews and covert participant observation. Official statistics are useful in lending the study balance and a wider sense of scale, but must be complemented with reliable, accurate personal (and detailed) data collected meticulously/properly in order to offer the study all of their benefits and offset their drawbacks. In addition, they must be well sourced and recognised as valid/reliable/accurate results, or else the findings of the research could be considerably discredited/invalidated. ...read more.

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