All Sociological Studies Are Affected by Researcher’s Values

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“no matter what research method are used ,all sociological studies will be affected by the values of the researcher”. Explain and asses. In my answer , I will explain ans asses the statement of “no matter what research method are used ,all sociological studies will be affected by the values of the researcher” through interactionist’s , functionalist’s ,postmodernist’s and marxist’s values. Interactionist claims that people create their own meanings. They react ,reflect on their own behaviour,have awareness and consciousness of their existence.

Therefore,to explain social behaviour,interactionist tend to understand individual interpretations,the meanings which individuals themselves giveto that behaviour through rich in ‘quality’ and in-depth study such as participant observation. For example,James Patrick ‘s study on violent Glasgow Gangs. Patrick secretly becoming part of a group and taking a full part in their lives. Patrick manage to be close as possible to the ‘natural’ behaviour of the group in their own environment . He is able to place himself inside the group’s value system.

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Patrick successfully get to understand and gain data of the group behaviour as well as their interpretations on crime. Thus,James Patrick’s study has show that interactionist’s values on studying people ‘s own interpretations and meaning has influence their choice of method on covert participant observation. Additionally, to support this view ,through interactionist ‘s analysis,Liebow (1967) also choose to do participant observation because he believes the method would provide a clear first hand picture of the life of ordinary people on their terms.

By observing what was said and done,where,when, and by whom,he was able to discover how the group of Black Street- Corner men saw and organized their live. Simon Winlow (2001) also prove that he could provide detailed descriptions of the interactionist involved around fights in Sunderland which he observed while doing participant observation as a ‘bouncer’. In short,all those studies has obviously show that interactionist’s values has influence their choices of method particularly participant observation. However,interactionist ‘s choice of method give details explaiantion on human’s social behaviour is doubtful.

Particiapnt onservation data not really depicts great picture of social behaviour since there is probability of researcher will be going native and no objective in presenting the data. For instance,Ken Pryce’s study on West Indian life in Bristol (1979). Pryce found himself going to clubs and blues dances,drinking with and talking to local resident well past midnight during his study . He is unable to stand back and analyse the situation objectively. While William Foote Whyte ‘s study on Street Corner society also shows that he is going native and unonjective.

When he conduct the study by overt participant observation,he tend to ask respondent permission or opinions about which data can be published in his study . So,this show that his overt particiapant observation did not really potray the interacton between Street Corner members. In which those data will effect his aim of his study. Hence,both study of Pryce and Whyte has show that interactionist ‘s choice of method being influence by their values but not really visualize great explaination on human interaction and social behaviour since researcher may going native and unobjective against James Patrick,Liebow and Winlow .

Furthermore ,functionalist did show that their research method in their sociological studies will be affected by their values. Functionalist view society as a system that is as a set if interconnected parts which together form a whole. They therefore believe that individuals are determined ,shaped and mould by larger society. In which,they analyse the social structure where behaviour takes place and may generate general law or generalization on their social behaviour pattern.

To indentify the pattern and underlying sense,the general law allow the to predict society future behaviour . So,to understand that moulding process ,they tend to analyse by quantitative method,the logical and scientific analysis numerical data which is prioritise on high in objectivity,reliability and representative data. Functionalist’s method usually official statistics,experiment and interview. It was prove by Emile Durkheim ‘s study on Suicide rate. He believes that suicide is not merely on individual act but there is sociological explaination for it.

He regarded the statistic as social facts and and believed that he could used to find sociological causes of suicide rates by tried to establish the correlation and uncover the patterns that would reveal the causal relationship in production of suicide rate(allow him to make general law). His suicide study cover statistic from eleven different country around Europe to prove his statement. As the study involves very big sample ,it is representative and generalize on society. Beside that,the suicide data does not involved any personal’s researcher interpretations. He also found that the sociological explaination for suicide .

In other way, he did found the sociological explaination for suicide. He deduce that weaker social order will result in higher suicide rate. The suicide rate predominantly by Protestant countries were higher rather than Catholics ones, as social order in Catholics predominant sountries is stronger. Similarly,study of British Elections(1997) over several decades has produced representative and reliability darta that can be used to determine changing pattern of voting and attitude enhance the claims as those functionalist’s methods,the official statistics, in generating the general law on respondents voting behaviour.

Geoffrey Evans et. al (1999) has replicated 1997 British Elections study and gain the same reasons which show that the method is really reliable as functionalist’s values is concern. Hence,all those study has show that official statistics was high in reliablility , representative and objective in study human general pattern of behaviour. In contrast,there is flaw regarding official statistics and functionalist’s values. According to interpretivist,J . D Douglas,he questioning validity of study done by Emile Durkheim.

He points out that the decision as to whether a sudden death is suicide or not is made by a coroner and is influenced by other people ,such as the family and friends of the deceased. Douglas suggest that systematic bias may arise in process of reaching a decision . For example , when a person is well integrated into a social group ,his or her family and friend might ne more likely to deny the possibility of suicide. They may feel sense of personal responsibility that lead them to try cober up the suicide fact .

Thus, the distorted fact of suicide data give an image of Emile Durkheim ‘s finding is not generalize throughout the whole pattern of behaviour of our society. The doubtful Durkheim’s research has depicts that functionalist ‘s values do influence their choice of method in their sociological study of producing objective,reliable ,and representative data that generate general law on society ‘s trend of behaviour. However,their method did not really prove a clear image of human social fact of behaviour as claims by J. D Douglas. Whereas ,postmodernist see postmodernity largely in terms of changes in society.

They do not believe that the nature of knowledge has changes or that radical new methodologies are needed to replace old ones. Therefore ,they tend to use conventional methods and contional sources of data ,secondary sources, to study the cultural pattern . Lyotard (1984),a postmodernist, rejects the claim that of all ‘scientific ‘ subjects and believes that all knowledge is essentially a form of story – telling. He sees all stories as equally valid and offers no way of distinguish between true and untrue stories which means postmodernist methodology simply consist of allowing different people to tell their stories.

Some of their methodology are life document (diaries,newspaper articles,letters and court reports) and historical document. The influence of postmodernist’s values on their method was prove by Linda Pollock’s study of Forgotten Children ;parent-children relation(1500-1900). From her intensive study over 400 diaries and journals ,she able to deny any fundamental change in the way parents viewed or reared their children in this period. She reveals that the text has no significant change in quality of parental given to or amount of affection felt for infants. Similarly, W. I Thomas and F.

Znaniecki’s study on The Polish Peasant in Europe and American (1919). They use 764 letters ,court report ,articles from newspaper and lengthy statement by one Polish Peasant about his life . They are able to understand and explain the pattern of experience of migration thousand Polish Peasant to America. In short, both study has prove that postmodernist’s values on human cultural behaviour trend study by their own stories has encourage postmodernist to choose life document. On top of that ,postmodernist ‘s value also effect their choice of methodology ,historical document.

Historical document is story – based. it was use to study social change which take place over an extended period of time. allow sociologist to understandthe trend and how contemporary patterns of life came about by writer’s experience as well as their actions. Historical documents allow researcher to cinsider the trend of social facts as generalize tp the change of society behaviour . For instance,Peter Laslett (1972) study on family life by parish record. He is able to discover how common nuclear and extended families in pre-industrial England.

Max Weber (1958) also emphasise that without historical document,he is unable to consider the influence of religion on the development of capitalism his study of The Power of Capitalism. In short,both life document and historical document has clearly show that , postmodernist values on allowing people stories in study the cultural pattern over certain period of time has influence their choice of methodologies as claim by the statement. On the other hand,Marxist claims that human behaviour was shape by domination of a few(the bourgoueise ,government ) over the many(ploretariat,society).

The oppression was appear through historical materialism in terms of the power of means of production ownership. Historical materialism sees change in society emerge from the struggle of conflict about the means of production ownership by exploitation . Marxist did emphasise on the materialism , whereby ,capitalist society can make as much profit as they can by pay less for ploretariat’ hard work ,in terms surplus values, under their class consciousness. Marxist , therefore ,prone to use official statistics for their study on exploitation or domination.

They argue that official statistic are neither hard facts nor subjective meaning. Instead , official statistics consist of information which is systematically distorted by power structures in society. Ian Miles and John Irvine (1979) argue that this method are develop in support of the system power and domination that is modern capitalism. Both , Miles and Irvne say that official statistics are produce according to the needs of the various state agencies for information to coordinate their activities and justify their programmes . They are related to a single ideological framework.

Official statistics mostly was done by government ,but ,Derek has prove that government tend to use this method as they may manipulate the data according to their values like Thatcher government appointed Derek Rayner in 1980 to review the British government ‘s statistical services. The government was repeatly accused of delaying ,suppress ,abolish and manipulating data for its own. Ruth Levitas did mentions on a few examples such as British Official statistics less politically biased but ,still reflect the ideology of government .

So ,government’s values of exploitation clearly shown in manipulation on official statistics data according to their own interpretations. For example ,Theo Nicholas (1996) argues that a Marxist point of view that the categories used in census and other official statistics disguise the true nature of class capitalism. Most have been based on the Registrar General ‘s scale ,which uses status as an indicator of social class . Thus,the official statistics give the impression of a status hierarchy and disguise the existence of classes that are in opposition to each other as exploiters and exploited.

In short,those those theory has prove that Marxist ‘s values did influence their type of methodology which depicts their value. In conclusion,I have asses and explain on the influence of researcher ‘s values on their choice of method based on interactionist’s , functionalist’s ,postmodernist’s and marxist’s values . In every process of study done,researchers are not away form being influence by their own values including their aim of conducting the research.

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All Sociological Studies Are Affected by Researcher’s Values. (2018, Jun 08). Retrieved from

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