Observation, Document Analysis, Sampling in a Sociological Survey - Fundamentals of Sociology and Political Science


With the help of the observation method, as a rule, primary sociological information is obtained. Observation is a directed, systematic, direct tracking, recorded and recorded information about socially significant facts, events, phenomena and processes. Unlike ordinary human observation, the sociological method of observation presupposes systematic, organized, purposefulness. In sociological observation, the goal, tasks and procedures are always fixed (ie what and how to observe), an observation program is created that involves the definition of the object and the object of observation, and the processing and analysis of the information obtained are carried out. Types of observation are determined by the position of the observer, the regularity, the place of observation, and the like.

• So, from the position of the observer position, the observation is included and not included.

With enabled observation , the sociologist is directly & quot; enabled & quot; (introduced) into the situation that he observes; he can even be a participant in any production process. For example, a sociologist asked the instructor of a training group to help him conduct a monitoring in a group of students. The teacher on time, performing his own functions, at the suggestion of the sociologist also performs his functions. In domestic sociology, an example of the included observation is usually cited: a well-known sociologist VB Olshansky, during sociological observation, worked incognito for several months as a fitter at a factory.

Unincorporated observation assumes that the situation is studied by a sociologist from outside, in no way contacting the participants (object) of observations.

Both observations can be carried out both explicitly (openly) and implicitly, at the same time observation should pursue only humane goals.

• Depending on the regularity of observation, it can be systematic (permanent) or random (sporadic).

• At the venue, there is a field observation , i.e. occurring in natural conditions, and laboratory observation , i.e. specially organized. For example, a sociologist at a college can plan such an observation during a contest, competition, etc. College students may not even suspect that in all these events, based on the results of the observation, conclusions are drawn about the cohesion of their collective, their ability to empathize with each other, etc.

The advantage of the method of observation is that it records events in certain space-time frames. There is an opportunity, as it were, "to take a picture of & quot; behavior of a group of people in a certain period of time, their reactions, gestures, etc. The lack of observation lies in the fact that this method does not deeply affect social situations that are not reproduced repeatedly, therefore, using this method, it can not be overestimated.

Document Analysis

With the help of documents (official and private), we can get information about events that have already taken place. There are documents written and digital, official and private.

Private documents cover both diaries, biographies of statesmen, documents not attested by a notary, for example letters, and in general archives of individuals. The group official documents includes public (for example, the State Duma and the Federation Council), state statistics, press (press).

There are other documents of a different kind: tape recordings, photographs, films. Stand alone documents are called iconography : they cover all the pictorial documentation, except for photographs (drawings, icons, engravings, paintings). Folklore is also a kind of documentation: long before the emergence of the periodical press songs, folk songs, proverbs and sayings were a way of expressing political and social positions. The documents also include products of cinema, television, radio, sound recording, Internet information.

Sociology, its methods cover all the variety of documents in their social context, as a peculiar "cast" interaction of people in various spheres of society. Data that represents a variety of types (types) of documents, consist mainly of messages: oral or written, but all of them are somehow expressed in verbal form.

To solve the problem associated with the analysis and active use of various kinds of documents in sociological research, a method of content analysis or analysis of the contents of documents was created.

Content analysis is a quantitative analysis of texts and text arrays for the purpose of the subsequent meaningful interpretation of the revealed numerical patterns. The novelty of modern means of content analysis lies in the fact that the researcher's impressions of the document, which depend on his personal perception, are replaced by more standardized procedures, often assuming the measurement or in any case the expression of the studied material in the form of data that can be considered scientifically. To do this, it is necessary to dismember the text, in other words, to investigate it, proceeding from the functions of individual concepts or words, which are selected and taken into account depending on the research objectives. Thus, content analysis (content analysis) can be defined as the "research technique aimed at an objective, systematic and quantitative description of the explicit content of communications that corresponds to the purposes of its research."

Analyzing the content of a document must obey simple and clear rules or requirements.

1. First of all, it is necessary that the interpreters of the document receive the same results. This is achieved by the objectivity of the analysis, providing the same understanding of all categories and working definitions in the document.

2. All contents of the document must be ordered and interpreted in a specific system, i.e. the analysis must be systematic.

3. The content analysis data must have measurability (it is a question of enumeration of significant elements, calculation of their frequency, etc.).

Content analysis, arising from a reaction against the old, too subjective method of literary analysis and from the necessity of systematization, imposed by the increase in communication, from the very beginning tended to quantify (from the Latin quantum - how much and facio - I do ), i.e. quantitative expression of data.

Quantification is achieved with the help of quantitative and qualitative analysis. The first examines the frequency of individual topics, words, symbols contained in the text of the document; the second - takes into account the presence or absence of any characteristic available in the document.

The technical stages of content analysis. When analyzing documents, the researcher starts with categories , which he gives the status of semantic units , expressing the idea of ​​the text to which he relies on his analysis. Categories are significant headings, according to which the content of the document is qualified and quantified. Categories form a link between the objectives of the study and its results. For this category should be clear and comprehensive, sufficiently easy to quantify; they must be objective, their characteristics must be clear to the people who code the document.

The texts of documents are encoded using registration units - this is the first unit of analysis. The time values ​​are recorded by variables. The smallest unit of registration is the word. Then comes the topic - a significant piece of the document. Behind the topic follows the subject - the most used term, in the broadest sense of the word means the whole content (books, films, speeches).

Content analysis is a very complex procedure that requires intuition and imagination, a lot of time and precise selection of the right categories. Content analysis also requires the researcher to have patience, discipline, persistence, a strict approach to differentiation, counting and checking of units of content. The main drawback of the method of document analysis is its high cost and time.

Sample construction during sociological research

So, in the process of sociological research, a theory of the problem was developed, which is solved with the help of a research program. The object, the subject of research and everything else that includes a program of full-scale sociological research are revealed. One question remains: who to investigate? However, and this is known - college students. But in this connection, another question arises: how many students need to be involved in the study in order to obtain reliable, comprehensive data? This question is usually solved with the help of selective aggregate of respondents . Of course, you can cover the entire student body (the array of respondents) with a survey, and this will be a continuous poll . If some of the respondents are interviewed, then this will be a monographic study , when a certain specific, representative and representative object is being studied.

In a selective study by specially selected characteristics, some part of the studied population is determined, which, as it were, models the whole of the whole population as it were. In this case, we have a model, according to which we judge the original as a whole. The aggregate is the entire collection of units of observation (in our case, all college students). Selective population is a part of the general population, modeled on the most characteristic features. In this sense, it represents the general population, i.e. is representative of it, and this is the main requirement for the sample set.

If, for example, we examine the problem of student progress, then obviously there is no need to interview 3,000 students, it will be enough to interview 300 people, and we will have a 10 percent sample. However, among these 300 students, students from all faculties and courses should be proportionally represented. If there are three students of the same faculty in the college (with a three-year education), then it is desirable to interview 15 students from each course of each faculty. academic group. The results obtained can be extrapolated with confidence to the general population and make managerial decisions. Our sample is ideal and rarely found in life, but the sampling principles are exactly that, and they must take into account existing realities. For example, for a variety of reasons, the number of students in faculties may be different, and the sample is complicated, but this is an insurmountable difficulty.

There are two main types of sampling: random and stratified (typical). With random sampling , the observation units are selected from the general population randomly, the "poke method" (one in five in the class journal, etc.). With typical sample , the selection of the units of observation is made taking into account the specific weight of each group of students in the general population. The most common is nested (quota) sampling , when some statistical groups (nests) are selected, which are then completely or selectively surveyed (for example, the training group).

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