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Social Research: Methods

1. Using Official Statistics

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About this Lecture

Lecture

In this module, we think about the use of official statistics in social research, focusing on: (i) their importance as often the only source of country-wide data about populations; (ii) the more critical view that official statistics do not provide objective knowledge about society, but rather show how governments construct facts; (iii) crime data as an example of this, as we see that the statistics are not objective reflections of reality, but are distorted by the processes of reporting by the public, police recording, and prosecution; (iv) victim self-reporting studies as an important corrective to official crime statistics.

Course

In this course, Professor Tim May (University of Sheffield) explores several different methods commonly used in social research and outlines how they are applied in practice. In the first module, we look at official statistics, the ways in which they are important for researchers, and debates around their trustworthiness as factual representations of society. The second introduces surveys and how they are constructed, and the third considers three types of interview – the structured, the semi-structured and the unstructured/focused. In the fourth module, we think about observation, both participant and non-participant, and examine some of the practical and ethical issues associated with it as a method. In the final module, we briefly survey some other important social research methods – documentary research, case studies, digital research, and comparative analysis.

Lecturer

Professor Tim May is a Professorial Research Fellow at the University of Sheffield. He has a wide range of expertise relating to research methodologies, sociological theory, and the philosophy of social science. His recent publications include Social Research: Issues, Methods and Process (2021, co-authored with Beth Perry), Thinking Sociologically (2019, co-authored with Zygmunt Bauman), Reflexivity: The Essential Guide (2017, co-authored with Beth Perry).

Cite this Lecture

APA style

May, T. (2022, January 26). Social Research: Methods - Using Official Statistics [Video]. MASSOLIT. https://massolit.io/courses/social-research-methods/using-official-statistics

MLA style

May, Tim. "Social Research: Methods – Using Official Statistics." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 26 Jan 2022, https://massolit.io/courses/social-research-methods/using-official-statistics

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