Sociology Key Terms

Sociology key terms

  • Created by: Emily
  • Created on: 07-12-12 15:14


Gaining the trust of an individual or a group so that the researcher can become [art of the group and study them.

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Participants must have their identities protected for ethical reason.

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Convenience Samples

The researcher may use non representative samples of people to participate in the study.

  • Qualitative results
  • People who are willing to answer, so may not be representative
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Covert Research Methods

Participants are unaware that they are being studied.

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Overt Research Methods

Participants are aware that they are being studied.

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Participants and researchers should be protected from harm.

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Any qualitative research project designed to understand how people live their lives in modern culture usually focuses on a community.

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Field Notes

These are notes made by the researcher while the research is actually being conducted.

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Going Native

The researcher over-identifies witht he study group and forgets to be value free.

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Hawthorne Effect

Participants in a study alter their behaviour as a result of knowing that they are being studied.

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Non-Participant Research

The researcher watches the group but does not become involved in activities.

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Participant Research

The researcher lives the lives of the people that are being studied, taking part in activities that they undertake.

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This is concerned with the search for meaning and emotion in people's daily lives. Results are subjective;

Based on or influenced by personal feelings, tastes, or opinions.

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This is concerned with data that is based on surveys, censuses and statistics, to be turned into patterns, trends and averages. This is objective;

Not influenced by personal feelings or opinions in considering and representing facts.

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Unstructured Interviews

These are similar to a conversation in dynamics and the researcher attemps to understand how the respondent feels.

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Structured Interviews

This is when the interviewers ask a set of identical questions in the same order to produce quantitative and factual results.

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A term coined by Weber which suggests that sociologists should develope understanding, having empathy with participants in research.

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Normalised behaviour, it is passed on from generations and can be adapted.

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Beliefs which the majority of society agree on, do not tend to change.

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Cultural Transmission

The passing on of culture, learn through participation and experiences. We teach each other.

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Cultural Diversity

Differences within a culture

  • Multicultural
  • Sexuality
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Cultural Relativity

The idea that no culture is superior to another. Comparing morality, laws and politics, but the right and wrong depends on the culture differences. What may be right for one could be wrong for another.

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How true something is to real life. For example, to interview somebody personally would be valid as you would get their point of view. 

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How accurate a test can be, if it can be repeated again and get the same results. For example, if you were to ask 100 people on the streeta question then two days later ask another 100 people the same question the results may not be the same, therefore it is not reliable.

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Ethics in Research

Participants must:

  • consent to being involved in the research
  • not be harmed physically or emotionally
  • have their identity protected (all information must be kept confidential)
  • not be decieved. The researcher must inform the participant as to what the research is being used for and must not lie to him/her
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The general type of people you need to talk to when carrying out the research.

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Sample Frame

A list of names or group of people that you want to/will take part in the research.

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Sampling Process

The best method that can be used for the research. This depends on what type of results you want, for example, if you wanted qualitative results you would use open ended questions, interviews etc.

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Random Sampling

This is a raffle type of sampling

  • Names go into a hat and are pulled out
  • Might get an unintended result
  • Not suitable where certain minorities should be represented in overall data
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Systematic Sampling

This is where names on a list are ticked off and every "n"th one becomes part of the sample

  • Unintended results may occur
  • Can assume the results
  • its not always easy to find lists of names; only happens in social settings (formal)
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Quota Sampling

This is mainly used to market sampling

  • Choose people who fit a particular profile
  • Researchers find people who fit the pattern
  • Stereotypical
  • Profile must be selected carefully
  • It produces good response rates
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