Value-free: where no opinion, judgement or values influence the conclusion.

Valid: when you find out what you wanted to find out.

Consensus: general agreement

Phenomenology: society is made by people rather than society makes people. Qualitative data is better as it’s rich in                               validity and offers verstehen.

Theoretical issues:

·         Validity: when you find out what you wanted to find out

·         Reliability: where a researcher can repeat the research.

·         Representativeness: if the sample reflects the target population.

·         Generalisability: apply findings and results to people who weren’t in the study.

Ethical issues:

·         Informed consent: ask the participant first.

·         Privacy: protect the participants right to privacy.

·         Anonymity: name/personal details removed.

·         Confidentiality: ask participant if they want their contribution made public or not.

·         Danger to participants: physical/mental harm to participants.

·         Danger to researcher: physical/mental harm to participants.

Practical issues:

·         Time: how long the research will take.

·         Cost: funding required

·         Access: ease of information.

·         Skill of researcher: expertise/training of researcher.

Qualitative data: written data, looks at feelings, meaning and interpretation.

Quantitative data: numerical data, statistical.


·         Positivism: society can be studied using scientific techniques.

·         Interpretivism: it is necessary to understand the meanings people give their behaviour and how these are influenced by others.

·         Realism: underlying structures and processes are more important than individuals.

·         Structuration theory: people are constrained by social institutions but can take action to support or change these institutions.

·         Post-structuralism: founding knowledge based on experience or systematic structures is impossible because history and culture condition the study of underlying structures, which subjects it to bias/misinterpretation.

Positivists are more likely to use quantitative data because the data produced is quantifiable, it uncovers patterns of behaviour which can be analysed for patterns and trends.

Interpretivists prefer qualitative data as it uncovers the meanings held by individuals/social group defines reality differently.


·         We can explain causes of events through looking at underlying structures and processes.

·         If things aren’t observable, we can observe the effects.

·         Scientific


·         The idea of structuralism is not always possible.

·         Understand and respect the capability of human life to display multiplicity when the same concept is applied to different situations.

Ontology: the different ways of seeing society.

Epistemology: how you prove what you think is true

Structural theories (Functionalists/Marxists) logically link to positivism because it looks at how society fits together and how behaviour is determined by society, which can be measured scientifically.

Social action theory logically links to anti-positivism because it focuses on how other people shape us, which is the opposite of what positivists want. Positivists want objectivity, value-freedom and generalisability. How others shape us…


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