Methodology Notes: Revision Session

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Methodology Notes – Revision Session



T – time
R – research characteristics
A - access
M - money
P – personal factors

- Participant observation – gain entry
- Get on the side of the people – may wait a long time

Research Characteristics
- Context of what you’re wanting to do
- Some institutions are harder to get into than others

- ‘Gatekeeper’ – people that give you access to the group you want
- Patrick – ‘Tim’ was a key informant to get him into the gang, he saved him on two occasions. 1) Wore his jacket wrong 2) Patrick bought suit outright, a lot of money whereas the gang paid in instalments.

- If you are doing an interview - have to pay professional interviewers
- Longitudinal studies, money over a long time.
- Government wants qualitative rather than quantitative data.

Personal Factor
- Racial stereotypes
- Interviewer effect

Hawthorne Effect – you change your behaviour as you know you’re being studied.
Impression management/Social desirability bias – don’t tell the truth because you don’t want to judged


D –lying of yourself or your aim
R – right to withdraw
I – informed consent
P – privacy
P – protection from harm

Humphreys – Gays in Public Toilet

- Stalking people through tracking their number plates (illegal behaviour)
- Followed them and went to their houses, with a health questionnaire to know whether their married, have children.
- Didn’t tell them, didn’t have their informed consent
- Covert Participant Observation – he was the ‘watch queen’ he didn’t join in but just watched; sociological sense not sexually.

- Kept the names secret of the men
- A group of people no-one knows must about, he wanted to draw people to the fact not everyone is heterosexuals, so he wanted to make people aware this was happening and make it accepting.
- It was a public space for males, he was allowed in there by law


P – positivists – quantitative data (sociology is a science) they will study humans like you study rocks and plants. This is generalised – to apply this to all types of people in all situations.

Social surveys

I – interpretivists – qualitative data (want to know opinions, don’t think it’s a science) they are social actors, thoughts and feelings to understand people.

Verstehen – to know
Ethnography – study of people in real life settings
Triangulation – three or plus methods to understand people and get a broad picture of what its about.


You must do advantaged and disadvantages for a certain thing – even if it asks for one side. Plus, integrate your advantages and disadvantages and make sure they link with each other

Research Methods


- In the natural environment
- Sociologist cant control the factors
- No informed consent, people don’t know they’re part of them

Pilliavin – Train Experiment (Based on Kitty Genovesd)

Group of observers to see how many different people