Critically Examine The Use Of Social Survey As A Research Method For Sociologists.

1272 words - 5 pages

Social surveys are used in sociological research as a research method, they collect standardised data about large numbers of people. The BCS (British Crime Survey) is a type of social survey involving 14,500 people aged 16 and over. The data that social surveys collect is usually in statistical form and the most practical way of collecting such data is through the use of questionnaires such as the BCS. Stephen Ackroyd and John Hughes distinguished three main types of surveys. These are factual surveys, attitude survey and explanatory survey. Willmott and Young used structural interviews, which is a form of questionnaire, in their survey of family life in London in 1970.The BCS is a social survey used as a research method for sociologists. It is very useful as it covers a range of crimes with a large sample size. The BCS is a household survey which asks if anyone in their household had been the victim to crimes that were listed in a particular year. The figures are collated in terms of household offences and personal offences. The BCS is much more useful than police recorded crimes, the BCS uncovered 11.6million offences compared to the police recorded crimes of 3.1million. Police do not record al the crimes reported to them as they may consider it as too trivial or inaccurate to warrant recording and taking action over. The BCS has been very useful for sociologists and has appeared to solve many problems aced by sociologists in gathering adequate and accurate data on the extent of crime, however there have been a number of problems. The BCS undercounts certain types of crime, such as fraud and corporate crime. The second criticism was that the BCS gave the impression that all individuals shared similar risks of being victims of crime. Another criticism is that the BCS suggested that victims of crime were most likely to be male and young and that the likelihood of becoming a victim was closely related to lifestyle.The three types of social surveys that Stephen Ackroyd and John Hughes distinguished are factual surveys, attitude survey and explanatory survey. The factual survey is used to collect descriptive information. One type of factual survey is the government Census. The second type of social survey that they identified is the attitude survey. This type of survey if often carried out by opinion poll organizations. Instead of producing descriptive information about the social world, this type of survey attempts to discover the subjective states of individuals. Many polling organizations collect information about attitudes to political policies and personalities. Information on attitudes is often collected by sociologists interested in voting. The third type of social survey is the explanatory survey. This survey is more ambitious than the other types as it goes beyond description and tries to test theories and hypotheses or to produce new theories. Townsend used both descriptive and explanatory, Townsend used survey data both to measure the...

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