Theories and Methods

Katie Powell
Flashcards by Katie Powell, updated more than 1 year ago
Katie Powell
Created by Katie Powell about 5 years ago


AS and A level Sociology (Crime and Deviance, Theory and Methods) Flashcards on Theories and Methods , created by Katie Powell on 03/15/2016.

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Theory and Methods (Interpretivists) Interpretivism is a micro theory. It is a bottom up theory as they see that the individual shapes society. Interpretivists Glaser and Strauss use grounded theoy to create a hypothesis, this works by making observations and then coming up with a theory to test this is called "Inductive Approach" in contrast to the positivists who will go in with their theory already formed and ready for testing, "hypothecico-deductive approach".
Bryman (Distinction between positivist and interpretivist research) Positivist research sets out to explain human behaviour by analysing it; interpretivists set out to understand varieties of human behaviour by being able to empathise with it.
Key term (Phenomenology) (interpretivist) The study of structures of consciousness as experienced is its intentionally, its being directed toward something, as it is an experience of or about fomr object.
Weber and "Verstehen" (interpretivist) "Verstehen" means understanding and interpretivists wish to understand people where positivists don't and this is why the social action theorists or interpretivists reject positivist research methods.
Interpretive aproaches and methodology (Meaning) To understand the actions of the people who attend events interpretivists choose to use qualitative data to find the meaning so they can truely have a full inderstanding of society.
Interpretive aproaches and methodology (Context) Interpretivist research is conducted on small groups and focuses on specific areas, this helps to keep the results valid as there is no interference from other areas the sociologist may be interested in diverting from the purpose of the study. This is in contrast to positivism as they use large samples. Interpretivist research provides an understanding of the events and how the actions have been influenced by certain circumstances and it is within these contexts that the actions make sense.
Interpretive aproaches and methodology (Unanticipated phenomena and influences) Positivist research is based on a pre-set idea of research and this limits what they see, effectively seeing the world with blinkers on. Interpretivist research is able to see the world without blinkers, a sociologist may have an interest in a subject and they will look at that area and from their exploration observations are made and meaning are interpreted for actions which then becomes their research and somtimes can be made into a theory. Interpretivists can handle unexpected happening during their research as unlike the positivist their research doesn't revolve around set actions occuring and expectations.
Interpretive aproaches and methodology (Process) Positivists are interested in the outcome of the experiment whereas interpretivists are very interested in the process of getting to the outcome as they like to understand people and their actions.
Interpretive aproaches and methodology (Developing causal explanations) Qualitative research is largely inductive (small situations), interpretivists argue that their approach is superior to that of the positivists as it uses the model it uses gives explinations that are rooted in the events and processes of social interaction. In the deductivist positivist approach a hypothesis starts the framework of the research.
Differences between qualitative and quantitative methods (Bryman) - Numbers VS Words=Qualitative methods describe social life in words where quantitative research are numbers and it paints a picture of society as a whole. -Point of view od the researcher and participants= Quantitative research uses pre-set questions and classify responces whereas qualitative research from the view point of the subject. -Researcher is distant VS the researcher is close=quantitative research is where the researcher is distant from the research as to create reliable results with no researcher interferance but Qualitative research the sociologist is heavily involved to help their understanding. -Theories verses theories emerge= quantitative research there is a hypothesis that is to be researched or tested whereas in qualitative research a theory may emerge from the acctual process of research (grounded theory). - Structed VS unstructured= quantitative research is reliable and structured. Qualitative research is valid less structured and open - Reliable VS Valid= qua
Strucruration theory (combonation of positivism and interprtivism) (Giddens) Sought to intrpduce a large number of structural elements to interprtivism. There is a form of structure that exists external to the control of indoviduals which limit theor actions but this happens as people make them exsist eg: families exsit as long as peopld choose to stay within the roles pf the family and to understand the stucures we need to understand these structures. Sociologists need to uncover subjective perceptions before investigating any objective facts.
Forster's ethnographic study (structuration example) Study focused mainly on a flats in East London where statistically there was a high ceime rate. However people didn't feel threatened as informal social control as they felt that they knew who the culprets were and this provided a degree of protection, people looked after each other. The statistics showed the area to be a dangerous place to live with a major crime problem but the ethnographic research showed the area to be a secure happy place to live.
Observation (intepretivist research methods) Covert participant observation- Patrick (a Glasgow gangkm observed) tim was his gate keeper but he decided not to carry weapons. Covert non-participant observation- Humpheries Tea Room Trade (gay men in public toilets) Overt non-participant observation - Parker A View From the Boys (delinquent subculture. He helped steal car batteries and helped providing legal advice) Overt participant observation - Whyte Street Corner Society ( his gate keeper wad Doc. He observed their arguments and joined in with conversion when he could and the gang did take part in some illegal activity.
Participant Observation Evaluation (intepretivist research methods) + Experience- the researcher can involved in the groups activities and they can see thing through the eyes of the subjects. + Generating new ideas- good for validity and will help to come up with new ideas. +Getting the truth- valid +Digging deep- close bond between subjects and researcher. + Dynamic- time of study can help to improve understanding attitudes and behaviour. + Researching difficult areas- can observe hard to reach groups. - Bias- involvement and relationships. Loss of objectivity and chance of going native. - Researcher influence- Hawthorn Affect (overt observation) - Ethics- covert observation can involve lots of deception and could be a lack of consent. - Proof- not reliable (can't be replicated) - Too specific- small samples (not generalisable) - Studying the powerless- observational studies focus on the least powerful groups in society (not generalisable)
Focus Groups (intepretivist research methods) A small representative group of people are invited to one location to discuss a specific topic. + Group dynamic can bring out opinions more that a 1:1 interview. + Unstructured nature and being a group makes people feel relaxed. + Give greater insight. +Valid - Can loose focus and go off on a tangent. - Group can be dominated by half of the individuals. - Unreliable - Difficult to arrange. - Can't give generalisable results.
Sampling (intepretivist research methods) Convenience sampling Snowball sampling Theoretical sampling- (ground up theory and focuses on the exception that might prove the rule. People are chosen as the theory rises)
Criticism "Values" (intepretivist research) Positivists think that the research is full of personal biases such as in Feminism which is committed sociology. The closeness of the research means that the behaviour etc is hard to interpret and there is a chance of going native.
Criticism "Generalisation" (intepretivist research) Interpretivist research is carried out on a small scale and this means that it is impossible to generalise. Interprtivitists see this as a positive as generalising misses the point of the research which is to understand. Positivists prefer to generalise as it is scientific concept which they embrace.
Criticism "Lack of Transparency" (intepretivist research) Bryman- qualitative methods are reliant on the interpretation of the researcher and we have to trust that their interpretation was reliable and accurate.
Criticism "Lack of Proof" (intepretivist research) The unstructured nature of the research means that it is not reliable as you can't easily replicate the research and got the same results which means there is little proof.
Triangulation Both intertretivists and positivists will use methods that are not conventional for their perspective on society. Sociology use multiple differing methods to make the results of their study more reliable, valid and generalisable.
Theory and Methods Sociology as a Science (origins of positivism) Auguste Compte a Frenchmen during the French revolution believing that science could provide answers to all question including the questions about how society functioned.
Positivism definition Positivism is the term used to describe an approach, to the study of society that relies specifically on scientific evidence, such as experiments and statistics, to reveal the true nature of how society operates.
Wallace types of knowledge (positivism) -Authoritarian knowledge, a person wiht authority is seen as a true source of knowledge. EG: a young person sees their parents as a source of wisdom. -Mystical Knowledge, drug-fuelled or religious experiments give an insight into the true world beyond "reality". Used in tribal culture. -Logico-Rational knowledge, this approach claims that knowledge is based on the "rules of logic" and emerges through the work of philosophers. -Scientific knowledge, this rests upon generating ideas a hypothesis and then testing them through rigorous application of methodologies.
What is Science? (Positivism) -Empirical (measurable) -Testable (Popper says theories should be falsified to prove them worng and eliminate that theory so we can move closer to the truth) -Theoretical (can predictions be made and does it include causal effects) -Cumulative (the knowledge has been obtained and built up over a long period of time) -Objective (is the research value free)
Process of Science (Positivism) 1. Observation 2. Hypothesis 3. Experiment 4. Data Collection 5. Data Analysis 6. New Hypothesis 7. Theory Formation (back to 1 again)
Example of Scientific sociology (Durkheim) Study of Suicide Positivist research characteristics -use of statistics -generalisable -reliable -objective Steps of process met 1. Made an observation 2. hypothesis 3. collected data 4. analysed data (supported hypothises) 5. theory developed
Sociology as a Science (Empirical and Testable) Natural Scientists- in the world there are natural phenomena that science measures but in society as society is created by people there is nothing to measure as there can be no independent phenomena Sociology- argue that language and structures such as the family exist outside of peoples influence and are therefore phenomena meaning predictions can be made and they can be measured scientifically.
Sociology as a Science (Theoretical) Natural Scientists- natural objects are predictable but people have free will and therefore cannot be predictable. Sociology- says that individuals activities cannot be predicted however, groups of people can be predictable (Durkheim's study of Suicide)
Sociology as a Science (Cumulative) Sociologists knowledge has been built up over time. It is the cumulative knowledge that forms modern sociology.
Sociology as a Science (Objective) Sociology cannot be objective as it deals with concerns that cause strong feelings. Values can emerge as they choose their topic of study.
Sociology as a Science (Methodological) It's hard for sociologists to follow the same methods as scientists do, which they're doing experiments. Arguably the comparative method is similar to scientific methods used by scientists.
Sociology as a Science Criticism (Inappropriate scientific method-Phenomenological) Interpretivists feel that seeing society like the natural world is incorrect. Schutz- society can't be measured or studied from the outside as society is made by people so the best way to study society is to be apart of it and the objective scientific method is therefore inappropriate.
Sociology as a Science Criticism (Inappropriate scientific method- late modern realist) Billig- a scientific method limits the imagination as it works for assumptions and quantifies within these assumptions. This however is not objective as it rules out some of the possibilities that qualitative research could bring to light, the assumption society should be quantified has lead to a specific pigeon holing people and actions but not all fit into these pigeon holes.
Sociology as a Science Criticism (Inappropriate scientific method) Bauman- postmodernist view says that modern thinkers (compte, weber and durkheim) have seen science and certain topics as important and over time those areas of study have become less important and therefore so has the method of study used to study them should change again to match the now wider societies ideas. They feel that sociology should not be scientific.
Sociology as a Science Criticism (Science as a masculine project) Feminists say that sociology consists of malestream knowledge as science doesn't give women a voice and this means that they feel that sociology should not be scientific.
Is science a science (the paradigm critique) A paradigm is a typical example pr pattern of something (a commonly accepted theory) Khun- says that science is not cumulative as it doesn't build up into one big balloon, instead previous knowledge is challenged. By finding new knowledge that does not fit into old paradigms, new ones are created. This shows science as not cumulative and therefore doesn't meet it's own requirements. Lakatos- says Khun is too simplistic and his idea only applies to the past. Modern science is open and sophisticated, it is rare for modern science to abandon old paradigms.
Is science a science (Experiments and Open and Closed Systems) Sayer (realist)- social sciences and natural science is the same. Social sciences should aim to uncover relationships between wider structures and social behaviour. Closed systems- where all variables are controlled EG: sciences, chemistry and physics. Open systems- where not all of the vairables can be controlled EG: seismology. Sociology can be scientific and can be studied as an open system.
Is science a science (the feminist critique) Harding - the understanding of society is based upon malestream knowledge (male perspective) Hart- until the 1990s we knew more about males and boys compared to women and girls. (most sociological studies use male participants) Ramazanoglu- has argued that the role of feminist sociology ought to be transforming gender relationships in such a way to bring out the equality of females with males.
Is science a science (modernity and postmodernity and science) Rorty- modernist, science is superior to everything ie: religion as we look towards experts to make sense of the world and provide the truth. Postmodernists say that despite the advances in science there are still questions that science can't answer. Lyotard- the nature of language limits and cannels science. It opens up possibilities and closes down others because we think within our language. We are unable to understand concepts outside our language.
Is science a science (science and values) Science is not objective - Science is lead in the direction of who is funding the work and therefore doesn't always benefit society (cigarettes studies) - Science is not ethical but society always tries to ensure that their research doesn't include any ethical issues. EG: research does not harm the subject but science creates things that harm society. -Beck- Argues that science has created new/serious risks to society due to the way it is shaped to government and business. EG: pollution and global warming.
Objectivity (Value-Free Sociology) Definition- if sociology is to be a science then it must be capable of being free of any personal or political bias. Positivists see sociology and science as the same and therefore sociology should be objective as science is, and phenomena should be measured and classified. Positivists call this social fact,opinion polls on a range of subjects having consistent results over time shows the accuracy of the social facts. Davidson and Layder- personal bias can be avoided as long as the hypothetico-deductive model is used. Sociological studies are out under scrutiny and peer reviewed which helps to maintain objectivity.
Objectivity (Value-Laden Sociology Definition) In practice, it is impossible to exclude all personal or political valuues from research although sociologists should be aware of this and try to minimise it. This is the view of Max Weber.
Objectivity (Value-Laden Sociology Historical Context) Gouldner- he says Weber was trying to prevent the Prussian government, who were attacking freedom of research, from interfering with sociology by claiming it was value free, the truth of it was that (as Weber later admitted), he believed that sociology could never be objective.
Objectivity (Value-Laden Sociology Paying for Research) People paying for research always have a reason for it and sometimes it can be that this influences the result of the research. Philo and Miller: all sciences have their critical researches silenced through a combination of targeted funding why have a primary research topic in mind and the influence of commercialisation. Scientists gain financially from certain outcomes as a result.
Objectivity (Value-Laden Sociology Career Trajectories) Sociologists personal ambitions and career goals to get published will intrude and affect their research whether this is conscious or not.
Objectivity (Value-Laden Sociology Personal Beliefs and Interests) People are drawn to different areas of study and this will affect their research, it will reliect their own beliefs and personal values.
Objectivity (Value-Laden Sociology The Domail of Sociology) Foucault- he says that sociology is reluctant to accept any new unorthodox theories or methods which is why green crime and green sociology hasn't taken off as a respected form of sociology.
Objectivity (Value-Laden Sociology The Postmodern Critique) Lyotard and Baudrillard- they sat that sociology is the same as science as science is based on a set of values just as sociology is said to be so positivist/scientific research is actually no better than any other kind of research is is definitely not value fee.
Objectivity (Value-Laden Sociology Foucault) What is deemed to be knowledge and is fact is judged by the more powerful groups in society but in judging the knowledge it is no longer value free as one piece of knowledge has been deemed beter and truer than another piece of knowledge.
Objectivity (Committed Sociology Definition) Those doing sociology should use their research to improve the lives of those they study- it is about commitment to change.
Objectivity (Committed Sociology Labelling Theory) Becker- sociology is one sided it looks at things through the eyes of the powerful (police, social workers and Drs). Sociology should take the view of the underdog (the criminal and mental patient). Labeling theorists tend to take this approach and it could reveal new facts and theories. Gouldner- said that Becker's theory didn't go far enough. He was still focusing on the weak as the social worker and police officer aren't rally powerful. Gouldner says we should study the really powerful, those who create the social structures of oppression.
Objectivity (Committed Sociology Marxism) Althusser- the role of sociology is to study the really powerful, those who create the social structure of oppression and the uncover the ways in which the ruling class control the masses. In doing this, he hopes to achieve a breakdown of capitalism by exposing how it operates to benefit only a few. Taylor, Walton and Young- studied the law and intended to expose the CJS as the biggest law breakers and how it is an instrument of the ruling class.
Objectivity (Committed Sociology Feminism) Hamersley- (four elements to feminist research) 1. Assumes that the subordination of women flows through all areas of life. 2. women's feelings and experiences should form the basis of the research. 3. There sould be ni heirachal structure in research, the subject and researcher should analyse the data together as it provides help for both parties. 4. The aim of feminist research is to help women and this should be how the success of the research should be measured not by acadenic standards.
Objectivity (Committed Sociology Feminism Malestream) Feminists criticise research as being malestream (focused on male interests, perspectives and research methods) Example criticised: Goldthorpe and Lockwood- they looked at middle class and working class males to consider their outlooks on life, they found that they were the same/similar due to the convergence of the cultures at the time of the study (1963)
Social Policy (Giddens Four Benefits of sociology studies influencing social policy) - Understanding Social Situations. - Awareness of cultural differences. - Assessment of the Effects of social policies. - Increase in self-knowledge
Social Policy (Giddens Understanding Social Situations Factual and Theoretical Understanding) -Factual understanding- factual knowledge provides us with the facts which allows us to form a judgement or develop a theory. -Theoretical understanding- theoretical knowledge provides us with an explanation as to why something is happening.
Social Policy (Giddens Understanding Social Situations Factual Study Interpretation) In the late 60s politicians thought they had eliminated poverty. Welfare had been around for 20 years or so providing housing minimum income and free NHS. Townsend and later Mack and Lansley- showed that poverty was a huge hidden problem with over 11 million people living in poverty. Povtery stats over 4 years: -60% of single parent households at some point -40% of people in poverty were over 65 -33% of the population experienced poverty at some point in the 4 years. 7.8% of people are in constant poverty.
Social Policy (Giddens Understanding Social Situations Theoretical Study Interpretation) Townsend- came up with the concept of relative poverty, showing how poverty could exist in the UK despite it being an advanced country. Room- came up with the term called "Social Exclusion" which taled about a lack of access to things such as Drs and buses etc.
Social Policy (Giddens Understanding Social Situations applied in policy) - National Minimum Wage- some proponents of the minimum wage have argued that this single measure has done more to alleviate levels of poverty that any other single measure. -New Deal Programs- introduced training programmes to get people back into work. - Working Tax Credit and the Child Tax Credit- have given greater support for those on low pay with dependent children. -Sure Start- Support families in deprived areas.
Social Policy (Giddens Understanding Social Situations Evaluation) Economics are more important that sociology in society but sociology when they create the policies plays an important role as it provides facts, patterns and theories to base the policies around. There is however a time lag between the research being conducted and the changes in policies due to the priorities of the government/parliament in both subjects and matters of the country.
Social Policy (Giddens Awareness of Cultural Differences) Sociology helps to expose ways of supporting others different form ourselves. An example of legislation influenced this was would be the Disability Discrimination Act 1995. - there was a lot of descrimination aginst disabled people and they struggled to get jobs. They were 7x more likely to be unemployed and 50% of families with a disabled male adult lived in poverty. - Sociology found that disabled people and their families formed groups such as the Disability alliance and the Disabled Income Group. Eventually there was a slow change in the public's view and legislation was bought in.
Social Policy (Giddens Assessment of the Effect of Policies) BBC 4 Evaluate Sure Start - Those who took part in the programme seemed to feel that it helped, one mother saying that it prevented her from having depression. But stats argue that parents who went to parenting classes etc were more likely to report themselves as having symptoms of depression. - The children were less likely to be obese, were healthier and better behaved but the scores on tests were not better than those who were not in the scheme. Parents covered by the scheme were less likey to attend parents evenings.
Social Policy (Giddens Increase in Self-Knowledge)
Social Policy (Sociology and Social policy Evaluation Marxism) The probem is that by trying to influence social policies is that it will support the capitalist system which causes the problems in society and sociology doesn't play the role of informing and liberating people it is supporting the powerful groups of society.
Social Policy (Sociology and Social policy Evaluation Feminism) Feminists see that society is run by men and in favour of men and fear that the involvement of sociology in social policy will act as a patriarchal colonisation.
Social Policy (Sociology and Social policy Evaluation Postmodernist) Bauman- sociology has no contribution to social policy. Scientific methods are a waste of time as they don't allow for understanding and they are controlled and manipulated to make use feel good. Sociology makes people understand and allows for understanding of their personal lives within the social context.
Social Policy (Politics and Social policy Evaluation ) 1. Governments act only when there are groups powerful enough to have their views taken into account by politicians. Research doesn't affect the policies it takes powerful pressure groups for changes in the law to be made. (gay people are now seen as a potential source of votes but other smaller groups are not focused on by politicians as the group has little power. 2. Governments are limited by financial means, they promise to bring in policies and eliminate poverty, it would be simple to rise state pension but they can't afford to. 3. Some policies face too much opposition from entrenched groups. The "roads lobbea" pharmaceutical and cigarettes company have all been very effective in protecting their interests despite evidence to show that many of their practices are harmful. 4. Governments rarely engage in radical long term changes. Political parties prefer to operate within the status quo as they are focused on being popular at the time of the election and the short therm they are in power is not long enough for them to see any long term changes.
Social Policy Conclusion Functionalist- feel that sociology and social policy should go hand in hand to improve life for the majority. (Liberal Democrats) Marxist/Feminist- sociology argue that insight that should help to replace the current political system. Postmodernist- feel sociology is purely academic and there is no need to claim sociology gives anymore than insight into the society we live in and should not be applied to social policy at all. There is no consensus
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