Assess the Usefulness of Official Statistics to Our Understanding of Social Problems. Illustrate Your Response with Sociological Arguments and Evidence.

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Assess the usefulness of official statistics to our understanding of social problems. Illustrate your response with sociological arguments and evidence. To assess the usefulness of official statistics to our understanding of social problems, I will first look at what official statistics are, I will then look at crime and suicide as two examples of social problems. I will look at how both Positivists and Interpretativists use these statistics and how useful each of these sociological approaches find them. Official statistics is the name given to the numbers of crimes reported to or unveiled by the police themselves, which lead to a conviction, caution or are dealt with in some formal way by the law. Only offences which are dealt with by one of the above are actually recorded in official statistics. These offences can vary from minor incidents such as a window being broken to, an offence of a more serious nature such as rape or murder. These are social problems that are constructed by society, something that goes against the 'normal' runnings of society. The statistics can give us an understanding as to the levels of these crimes and as to why or where they are most likely to occur. However because not all crimes which are reported, are actually recorded, the true extent to crime can never be revealed through official statistics or otherwise. Positivists believe that official statistics are indeed very useful to the understanding of social problems. They believe that because official statistics look at such a large proportion of the population that it allows us to make comparisons over time and make comparisons between different societies. They can allow generalisations to be made and over time they can have some affect on laws within society. Something which was once considered legal may become illegal. Whereas Inerpretativists belive that official statistics
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