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Sociology - AQA Unit 5, June 2007

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Week 12 a. An accepted framework of concepts regarding a particular area of knowledge. b. - Cumulative - Like science, sociological knowledge is cumulative. Sociologists have built up knowledge over time. - Funding - Subjects receive funding for research from government departments or charities if they are seen to be 'scientific'. c. - People are thinking beings - People are not inanimate objects like rocks or chemicals and cannot be studied in the same way as such entities. - Objective - If sociology deals with issues and concerns, about which we have strong feelings, how is it possible to remain objective? d. There are two main types of data, primary and secondary. Sociologists may find one type more useful than the other in their research for a number of factors. In collecting primary data, the sociologist is more closely involved in the creation of the whole research process. This creates opportunity for a number of advantages contributing to the usefulness of primary data, such as: - The results are easier to interpret as the researcher can use their own definitions, e.g. whether 'book' includes magazines and newspapers. - The researcher has the choice of which methods to use that fits their theoretical position. ...read more.


Positivists support a theoretical model of society that is based on the idea that there is some form of structure that exists independently of individual views or perceptions, known as the structural model of society. There are two main approaches that are linked to positivism - functionalism and Marxism. This approach strongly favours using quantitative methods, such as surveys, questionnaires and case studies. It is concerned with the meanings people attach to their behaviour and more with the behaviour itself. Positivist sociology attempts to measure behaviour by translating it into numbers. This makes it possible to use statistical tests to measure the strength of relationships between various factors. Some research methods are more likely to produce data in a numerical form. Questionnaires are an example. It is fairly easy to translate the answers to a questionnaire into numbers. And some existing data is available in numerical form, for example, official statistics. Surveys are used by positivists to uncover straightforward, factual information about a certain group of people, e.g. their voting intention. This is because a survey allows information to be gathered from a large range and a number of people, and provides information that can be easily and clearly measured. ...read more.


As women are able to discuss issues in the company of other women, they are more likely to divulge their true experiences than in more artificial situations. Feminist research is concerned to minimise differences in power and status that can occur in research situations, where the more powerful sociological researcher may dominate the interaction. Focus groups tend to even out the power. Reinharz suggests that the most effective way to study women is to use ethnographic methods. She argues that these allow the full documentation of women's lives through the eyes of a woman, rather than from the typical male sociological standpoint. Feminist sociologists have also adopted the in-depth interview as their most used tool of research. Oakley argues that structured interviewing is exploitative, creating inequality in power, and that unstructured interviews prevent this. There is a distinction between research methods and the sociologist's perspective, but in real life research, however, things are more complicated. While one group of sociologists are largely in favour of using quantitative methods and other sociologists are largely in favour of using qualitative methods, both groups will dip into the 'other side's' methods if they think it will be useful. The use of the multiple methods is called triangulation and is used to improve validity, reliability and generalisability. Melissa Bennett ...read more.

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