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

Assess the usefulness of official statistics as a source of secondary data in sociological research.

Extracts from this document...


Assess the usefulness of official statistics as a source of secondary data in sociological research. Official statistics are considered useful because it is high in reliability. Emile Durkheim believed suicide statistics from European countries were sufficiently reliable to establish correlations between suicide and other 'social facts'. From the statistics, he concluded that higher level of social integration among Catholics result in lower suicide rate. It was evident that this statistical data is reliable because when he checked on differences within the population of particular countries, he found out that Bavaria, the area of Germany with the highest number of Roman Catholics, also had the lowest suicide rate. ...read more.


Hence, we can say that although official statistic is useful in terms of its reliability, the usefulness is flawed by its validity problem. Another usefulness of official statistics is they are high in objectivity. As claimed by Alan Bryman, many official statistics such as statistics on birth and death are collected as a matter of course in the everyday procedures of government agencies and are therefore relatively unobtrusive. Nevertheless, based on Ruth Levitas' findings, official statistics are not as objective as positivists claim they are. Levitas found out that figures on public expenditure were manipulated, waiting list for NHS patients were reduced, and census statistics no longer included deaths by social class (they might reveal a growing gap between life expectancy of different classes). ...read more.


Based on this study, it was found out that among a range of offences committed during 2001-2002 in Britain, only 42 per cents were reported. Nonetheless, Hazel Croall pointed out that the data from this survey is not entirely reliable because it can only record crimes which victims are aware of and therefore exclude many crimes. Furthermore, the early Crime Surveys only interviewed people over 16 and therefore omitted most crimes committed against younger age groups. We can deduce then that it is not entirely acceptable that official statistics are low in validity based on the British Crime Survey because the validity of the data from the survey itself is doubted. In sum, official statistics are useful based on their reliability and objectivity but their validity is somehow doubted. ...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 Sociological Differentiation & Stratification 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 Sociological Differentiation & Stratification essays

  1. Free essay

    Assess The Usefulness Of Official Statistics In Sociological Research

    When adapting quantitative methodological procedures to derive specific data, official statistics is often used as a source of sociological evidence to simply enhance or complement practical research methods. However when looking at what is gained from the use of official statistics, it is important to recognize the limitations, which serve

  2. Outline and Assess the Usefulness of Conflict Theories in Explaining Social Class Inequalities in ...

    Weber looked at the affect of class, status and party on life chances. Differences in class, status and party lead to conflict and inequality within society. Weberian Theory is highly useful in explaining why there is inequality in society. Weberian Theory takes into account many factors that can divide people within society.

  1. Assess the usefulness of Positivist Research

    A good example of this at work is scientific studies, paid for by the tobacco industry, to prove no link between cigarette smoking and lung cancer. The face that this has itself been disproved clearly shows the extent to which positivist and scientific research can be distorted, and that positivist research is not value-free and objective in some cases.

  2. Free essay

    Discuss official statistics with regard to how useful one might find them when conducting ...

    As these are produced by the state, they may be biased to favour a certain government to reflect success of policies. Some data may be avoided and focus on the bad rather than the good, such as talking about social scroungez\rs instead of talking about the number of non-domiciles.

  1. Sociological theories and Healthcare.

    Figure 2.1 states breast cancer between younger women aged 35-54 years is the most common cause of all deaths. Breast cancer accounts for 32% of all deaths. The chart shows older men are slightly at risk which indicates it could stem from ageing and lifestyle.

  2. Assess the usefulness of observations in sociological research

    Low reliability is perhaps the main limitation of Patrick's research. Because the research was an observation it was not carried out in controlled conditions and thus can not be repeated. This is a problem as the research cannot be compared with other results and trends are not easily identified.

  1. Examine the usefulness of Social Surveys as a research method.

    The advantages of using questionnaires is that they are cheap and quick to produce and don't even require the researcher to train an interviewer or observer. If questionnaires are posted or emailed to the population then large quantities can be targeted.

  2. Assess the usefulness of interactionist approaches to the study of society

    E.g. should I really giver her some flowers? The meanings we give to situations are the result of us, interpreting and analyzing the situation before responding ? especially taking the role of the other. Blumer?s view of human behaviour contrasts with functionalism. They see individuals as puppets, passively responding to the systems needs.

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