Examine the Reasons Why Some Sociologists Choose Not to Use Questionnaires When Conducting Research?

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Examine the reasons why some sociologists choose not to use questionnaires when conducting research? Questionnaires are usually a method of collecting large amounts of quantitative data which are favoured by positivists due to their reliability, generalizability and representativeness however in this essay I will look at some of the reasons why other sociologists may shy away from using them. An important reason why some sociologists may choose not to use questionnaires are because low response rates can be a major problem especially with postal questionnaires. For example in Hite’s study of ‘love, passion and emotional violence’ 10,000 questionnaires were sent out but only 4.5 percent of them were returned. This shows why some sociologists may not use questionnaires as with a low response rate they can lack generalizability. It is argued that a higher response rate can be obtained if follow up questionnaires are sent out, if they are collected by hand or even if they sent out by email. However these methods tend to be either more time consuming or more costly. As well as this a great danger with low response rates is the fact that those that are returned are usually from people that aren’t fully employed or an isolated group of society and therefore means it lacks representativeness. Another reason why sociologists may not want to use questionnaires is their inflexibility. This meaning that once questionnaires have been sent out the researcher is stuck with the questions asked and cannot probe deeper or change the questions. This becomes a problem if during the research there becomes new areas of interest which now can no longer be explored. However it is argued that this can be partially combatted with the use of follow up questionnaires. Interpretivists sociologists also tend to not use questionnaires as they argue that they lack validity and do not give
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