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Qualitative and Quantitative methods of gathering data an overview.

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Introduction

A. Is it true that structured methods (postal questionnaires, structured interveiws and the statistical analysis of secondary data which produces quantitative data) is it true that structured methods are low in "validity" and high in reliability and representativeness? B. Is it true that unstructured methods (participant observation and unstuctured interveiws which produce qualitative data) are not only low in reliability and representativeness but also low in validity as well? Using scientific sampling procedures we can see that structured methods are high in representativeness. An example of this is stratified sampling the sample is stratified according to the characteristics of the population e.g it should contain 52% women 48% men to refect the gender composition of the UK. Random selection is then done to ensure that there is no bias in the picking of the actual sample. Also sociologists sometimes use non-representative sampling such as studying a criminal group. ...read more.

Middle

And they only asked 2 questions (men helping women out with domestic work male/female point of veiw) for oakley this is not indepth or accurate enough. Contrasting this is another point of veiw that structured methods are high in validity. Positivists disagree with oakley and argue that its possible for structured methods to be high in validity if the questions are valid. Just because a researcher askes a structured question does not mean that the answers are unvalid or untruthful. So willmott and young were not trying to do an indepth study of domestic labour and equality but a relitively superficial attitude survey of young couples. Which could be compaired to the attitude of the older generation which they studied in an earlier survey 12 years previously. Terefore we can argue the data is valid because young husbands were showing a slightly different attitude towards domestic labour than the older generation of men. ...read more.

Conclusion

But the qualitative interpretive veiw) says this is false as Becker claims its possible to check a theory using unstructured methods and that these research methods can be done systematically e.g "in making with the grade". Becker did a participant observation study of classrooms and tabulated his evidence/observations systematically. Quantitive positivists veiws is that it is not possible for researchers to study people objectively and nutrally so it may be true that data from unstructured methods are low in validity. Paticipant observations like white and unstructured interveiws like oakley, there observations and shaped by there values. Participant observers try not to prejudge the subject matter which reduces the validity of the data. Unstructured methods take much more time than structured methods and this ensures the high level of validity e.g cicourel spent 4 years studying juvenile justice in california. Unstructured researchers get close to the subjects there studying and because subjects are relaxed and open and communicate to researchers therefore data from unstructured methods are high in validity. ...read more.

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