Assess the Value of Quantitative Data in Sociological Research (20 Marks)

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Quantitative data is information that is given in a numerical form. An example of quantitative data would be official statistics. Also information collected by market research surveys and opinion polls usually appear in quantitative data. Quantitative data is favoured by positivists as they feel like society has an objective and it influences its members and forms their behaviours and patterns of behaviour. Positivists believe that sociology is a science and look for cause and effect relationships. However, in contrast to positivists and structuralists, Interpretivists prefer qualitative data as they have a micro view of society and have a more in depth perception of society. They disagree with the idea that sociology is a science and they think that humans are not rocks or plants or any other natural phenomena and we have free will, choice, consciousness and opinions so we cannot be compared to rocks and plants etc and our behaviour cannot be explained in terms of cause and effect, just by the choices we make. So they feel that it isn’t appropriate for studying human beings. There are a wide range of quantitative sources for example questionnaires, structured interviews, experiments and official statistics. Positivists favour the laboratory experiment because it reaches their goal of reliability. It lets the researcher recognize and assess behaviours quantitatively to control variables to create cause and effect relationships. Also, they know that they have control of the conditions in the experiment and they produce reliable data that means that future researchers can do the same experiment and get the same results as the first person that did the experiments. Positivists realise that there are some downfalls with using laboratory experiments and resort to the comparative method as they’re samples are usually quite small scale so the results may not be
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