Questions and answers on the documents section of the research methods topic of unit 2 AS AQA Sociology. Includes personal and public documents, advantages and disadvantages of both and evaluation.
Flashcards by ashiana121, updated more than 1 year ago
Created by ashiana121 almost 9 years ago

Resource summary

Question Answer
What type of source are documents? Secondary
Who are documents created by? Individuals, organisations or groups
Give some examples of personal documents Diaries, letters, autobiographies, notes, photo albums
Give some examples of public documents Government reports, charity reports, business reports that are available to the public
What type of data could documents contain? Qualitative or statistical
Why do interpretivists use documents? They prefer open-ended research methods that produce valid, quantitative data that allows them to see the meaning attached to events
Why do interpretivists regard documents as high in validity? Because they are the freely expressed meanings of those who produce them
Why do positivists reject the use of documents? They lack reliability and representativeness
How would positivists use documents? Use the statistical data or convert the qualitative data into quantitative data using content analysis
What are 2 advantages of personal documents? - They often have a high degree of validity because they are created for personal purpose and so provide genuine insight into peoples attitudes - Cheap and save time as they are already there
What are some disadvantages of personal documents? - Some personal documents can be hard to access - Some groups are unlikely to produce personal docs and so their views are not represented whereas those with the time and skills may be over-represented - Some personal documents are created after the event with hindisght - Personal bias may be present - Some personal docs are written with an audience in mind which could affect what is recorded
Public documents are often what? Plentiful, detailed, cheap and easy to access
Why may the contents of public documents be bias? The publisher is aware that they are open to the public
What advantages comes with government funded documents like the Black Report? They are full with data that the sociologist would have been unable to collect themselves
What is the only way we can study past societies with no survivors to question? Historical documents
What is the disadvantage of studying historical documents? Interpretation - meanings of words change over time
Why may some historical documents give an unrepresentative picture of the past? Some are lost or destroyed
How can news reports be quantified? In terms of amounts of time/space given to particular points of view
What doesn't content analysis tell us? Its meaning
How do interpretivists get round this? They use qualitative content analysis to examine the meanings attached to particular words and images
What problem does this have? Interpretation - different researchers may interpret the same image or statement differently
John Scott suggests 4 tests of any document. What are these? Meaning, authenticity, representativeness, credibility
What questions should be asked to test a documents authority? Is it genuine? Is it what it claims to be?
What question should be asked to test a documents credibility? Can we believe the document and the sincerity of the author?
"How typical is the document of a wider social group?" Is a question we could ask to test the... Representativeness
Why are documents useful to sociologists? They provide insights to social behaviour, they can provide a historical or 'insider' perspective
Why may documents not be useful to sociologists? If they are limited in terms of availability, representativeness and lack of systematisation, and they may not cover all areas of sociological inrest
What does this mean about the position of documents in studies? They are rarely the main element but often contribute an important dimension to the research
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