Going specifically on how this theory shapes the methodology Essay

(1) In discussing theoretical frameworks, Cooper argues that ‘these perspectives or paradigms are crucial in shaping the ways in which we investigate the world’ (2001:4).

In what ways does the use of the middle range sociological theory of ‘interaction ritual’ (Strang et. al., 2006:188) shape the methodology and methods (including data collection and analysis) of Strang et al.’s investigation of face to face restorative justice?
The essence of studying social phenomenon is to glean an in-depth understanding of its occurrence. Thus, a researcher necessarily has to employ a conceptual framework or anchor on a particular theoretical model to go about with the study being conducted. However, investigating a social phenomenon through the lens of a particular theoretical perspective oftentimes create a blind spot among some researchers. It shall be borne in mind that, as Copper (2001, p.1 ) puts it, although the conceptual frameworks and theoretical considerations inevitably frame the research, it is within the researcher’s control to use the frameworks in his or her advantage to improve his methods of inquiry. In the standpoint of a socially valuable research, the researcher must take into account the impact of the research to society as a whole, and the lives of those who took part on it in particular.

Strang et al.’s investigation of face to face restorative justice relies heavily on the essence of sociological theory, interaction ritual. Collins (2004, p. 2) describes interaction ritual as a theory of situations; a theory of momentary encounters among human bodies charged up with emotions and consciousness because they have gone through chains of previous encounters. Inarguably, this fitting description finds its way into the conceptualization of Strang’s examination of the effectiveness of face to face restorative justice. This paradigm does not only showcase a rich source of investigating the benefits of this kind of restorative justice to the victims of crime but more importantly it guide our legislators in formulating future policies on crime deterrence and victim support-services (Strang, et al, 2006, p. 284).

Going specifically on how this theory shapes the methodology and methods of the above-mentioned research is to delve into the technical foundation of how the research was undertaken. The purpose or objective of the research largely determines its theoretical framework and in like manner the latter influences what methods to be employed by the researcher in order to answer the objective posed. Now, it is evident why Strang, et al., opt face-to-face conference among the crime victims and their offenders as a primary tool of investigation. This is consonant with the interaction ritual theory, and therefore boosts its role in the discussion and analysis of the respondents’ responses, reactions and emotions before, during and after the conference. It is indubitable that the confrontations among these highly polarized individuals create an intensely emotional atmosphere. Parenthetically, Strang et al. draw their analyses of the whole process of investigation on the emotional statements of the victims as well as to the remorseful encounter of offender with their victims. In the surface, it may seem that the result answers not the objective why the research was conducted but merely to substantiate and affirm the validity of interaction ritual as a theory. This is a misplaced supposition. The chain of processes involved in the research is not broken, to wit: purpose of the study, theoretical framework that supports the objective, and the methodology, shaped by the perspective employed, that answers the objective.

 

 

 

REFERENCES

 

 

Cooper, G 2001 ‘Conceptualising Social Life’ in N Gilbert (ed) Researching Social Life, Second Edition. Sage, London, pp.1-13.

 

Collins, R 2004, Interaction Ritual Chain. Princeton University Press, London.

 

Strang, H, Sherman, L, Angel, CM.; Woods, DJ, Bennett, S Newbury-Birch, D and Inkpen, N 2006 ‘Victim Evaluations of Face-to-Face Restorative Justice Conferences: A Quasi-Experimental Analysis’. Journal of Social Issues, vol. 62 no.2, pp. 281– 306.

(2) In researching drug use, Taylor and Kearney (2005) engaged privileged access interviewers. Identify and discuss critically the ethical dimensions of this research method and the strategies employed by the researchers to address these. What, if any, additional strategies of this kind would you have devised if you were chief researcher for this research?

 
The research conducted by Taylor and Kearney is replete with ethical issues because of the creative means employed in the research. These ethical considerations are directly interrelated with each other and can be categorized into two aspects: one, concerning the recruitment of this type of interviewer; two, the effect of this on the integrity of information collected from the interviewees.

Foremost of these concerns was the issue of possible exploitation of the Privileged Accessed Interviewers (PAIs). The key researchers recognized a possible misuse of the privileged access interviewers as a cheap resource to access to hidden population and interview them cheaply. At the outset, Taylor and Kearney, make it imperative to clearly explain to the   interviewers their motive on acquiring their assistance, as well as the purpose of the research methodology employed. The sensitivity of the researchers on the cause of their interviewers may be attributed to their feminist stance. They were not remiss in taking measures to eliminate acts of exploitation, actual or perceived. This was evident in their utilization of an exit strategy to prevent the foreboding feeling of being disregarded after the completion of the research. Furthermore, the key researchers did not cut off their contact among these interviewers and even suggested for further application that they be directed to other social activities rather than simply remove them from their newly found social outlet. (Taylor and Kearney, 2005, p. 9).  Thus the interviewers felt their involvement in the success of the research and gained satisfaction from their contributions.

Corollary to this is the inadvertent exposure of the interviewers to the hazards of the culture and practices of the active drugs users.  It must be noted that these interviewers were already non-drug users or otherwise, stable users. Their continued contact with the active users during the duration of the interview may wreck havoc on their resolve to say away from drugs. Its adverse effects could find expression in the psychological and emotional distress they may experience. Apparently, this touches on the welfare of the PAIs as significant forces that brought the success of this research. To eliminate this unwanted hazard, the researchers countermanded this concern by initiating measures such as following briefing and debriefing protocols before and after each interview. It was also wise to tap the support of other agencies and allied services to help the interviewers cope with their distressing experiences.

The other two ethical dimensions relate to maintaining the reliability and validity of the collected data and the confidentiality of the obtained information. As to the first concern, there may be a question as to the suitabilility and stability of the interviewers. Their skill level in conducting the interviews must specifically satisfy the standard so as to maintain the integrity of the data collection process. This can be minimized if the interviewers shall undergo proper trainings on the values and purposes of the interview as an investigative tool. This training must be reinforced by a rigid briefing orientation before the onset of the interviews.

 

 

REFERENCE

Taylor, NJ and Kearney, J 2005 ‘Researching Hard-to Reach Populations: Privileged Access Interviewers and Drug Using Parents’. Sociological Research Online, vol.10 no. 2, pp. 1-12

 

(3) Feminist scholar, Mary Maynard, argues that ‘Many of the methods used by feminists are not original. What is new is the way we have asked questions, the way we locate ourselves with our questions, and the purpose of our work’ (1998: 127).
In what ways is this ‘newness’ evident in the research about Japanese women in professional and managerial employment undertaken by Liddle, Kanda and Kobayashi (2004)? In addressing this question, be sure to illustrate your answer with specific examples from their study.

 

 

 

The thrust of a feminist research methodology lies on its sensitivity to the issues, to the richness of the materials and giving meanings and interpretations of the researched (Maynard, 1998). The feminist’s approach is not afraid to explore the areas of social phenomena not reached by other investigators. As pointed by Maynard (1998, p. 129), feminist research does not limit itself to numerical values but on the in-depth understanding of assumptions where issues relating to women revolve.  She explicated that new methods must be used to unlock the unexplored plane women have in the society. These methods, which centers on the ethical, are not necessarily new, rather the newness of their research practice are evident on how she perceives the objective of her research and how she puts herself in the parallel plane of the researched

In the study conducted by Liddle, Kanda and Kobayashi, this newness is expressed on the way they conceptualised the role of women in class formation. Rather than making women as an object class that is shaped by external factors they dwelled on the dynamics of women’s participation in history and in particular their upward movement in the labour market. This is evident in the challenge they posed on the purely economic conceptualization of women’s contribution and instead, introduced a cultural and symbolic role for women as housewives and mothers in displaying the family’s wealth, social position and respectability, and transmitting to the next generation the family’s cultural knowledge and social belonging (Liddle, Kanda and Kobayashi, 2004, p. 138).

The researchers were not afraid to utilize the numerical data to emphasise the distinction between men and women’s movement in the labour market, suggesting that it was much more difficult for women to become professional workers if not for their privileged social origins. As a conclusion, they stated that class background may be more important for understanding women’s access to positions of power in employment than men’s (Liddle, Kanda and Kobayashi, 2004, p. 137). Although not a new method to present and describe a particular relationship of variables, the researchers successfully established the purpose of their research and in the process challenged the conventional way of conceptualising women’s role in the dynamics of class formations.

Another proof of the ‘newness of the methods’ employed by Liddle, Kanda and Kobayashi (2004, p. 138) was their strong advocacy of including women’s contribution to the class position of the household and giving new understanding of being fulltime housewives with respect to the display and transmission of family capital for the reproduction of the family’s class position.

Although recognising the value of quantitative measurement, the researchers stressed the importance of qualitative analysis to explore uncharted areas of women’s position in the class structure and the understanding of their movement in relation to the class structure and processes of gendered class power.

In fine, the research conducted by Liddle, Kanda and Kobayashi (2004, p. 129) captured the essence of a feminist research practice, combining both the value objectivity without prejudicing its commitment to reflexivity (Maynard, 1998, p. 131).

 

 

 

REFERENCES

 

 

Liddle, J, Kanda, M and Kobayashi, K 2004, ‘Gender, class and power in Japan: does social origin affect women’s access to power in employment?’, International Review of Sociology, vol. 14 no. 2, pp. 123 – 141

 

Maynard, M 1998 ‘Feminists` knowledge and the knowledge of feminisms: epistemology, theory, methodology and method’ in T May and M Williams (eds.) Knowing the Social World. Open University Press, Buckingham.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4. How would you obtain a sample of the following groups?

(a) Illegal drug users in order to study the process of becoming a drug user.

(b) Adults who are diabetic in order to study the effects of diabetes on family and social relationships.

(c) Second generation Italians, i.e. people who were born in Britain and whose parents were born in Italy, for a study on the maintenance of Italian cultural practices.

In each case, first define more precisely the population to be studied then suggest alternative sampling strategies. How well would your proposed sample represent the population you initially defined?

 

 

In conducting a research, it is imperative that the population of the sample must be precisely defined.  Thus, the population of drug users must be established taking into consideration their gender, age, social class, and educational background. These demographics help ascertain who shall become a respondent of the study. The respondents shall only include high school and college students who are reported to be drug users, between the ages of 15 and 25, including both males and females and come from the middle class and working class family.

Taking into consideration the nature of the population, the researcher is constrained to make his own judgment as to who shall comprise his or her sample. Arber (2001, p. 61) suggested that snowballing or networking is an apt method of sampling when the researcher is confronted with a small number of respondents who are not readily identifiable.  The researcher identifies the network of respondents by asking one to reveal the others identity to create his or her chain of respondents that answer the above-mentioned parameters. The downside of this type of sampling, as implied by Arber (2001, p. 63) is the issue of representativeness of the sample generated.   However, representativeness is not much of an issue since the goal here is to understand the process of how one becomes a drug user.

As to the study of the effects of diabetes on family and social relations, the population of the respondents is recognised through a pre-identified lists such  hospital data bases of the major cities of (specify the country) or in the alternative, members of the diabetes association in the same locality.

The sample is taken by employing the systematic sampling method to get the accurate representative of the pre-identified elements of the population. This kind of sampling method is more effective because it utilizes a fixed sampling interval to determine the sample unit, thus making the sampling process manageable and time-efficient (Arber, 2001, p. 68). Consequently, there will be no question as to its representativeness because this type of probability sampling assures such issue with a certain degree of precision.

With regards to the study of the maintenance of the cultural practices among second generation Italians, the population shall be localized in a particular area only or specifically those living in the key cities of the United Kingdom, who are within the age range of 25 and 55. This type of research calls for a two-phase sampling method to categorize the subgroup of the members of the population. Members of the population are interviewed to determine who among them satisfy the requirements set by the researcher. When the gathered elements of the population are small enough to be covered, sampling is no longer relevant and representativeness of the sample is no longer an issue to be addressed by the researcher. If the contrary is availing, a systematic sampling among the determined elements of the population who meet the parameters shall proceed.

 

REFERENCE

 

Arber, S 2001, ‘Designing Samples’ in N Gilbert (ed) Researching Social Life Second Edition, Sage, London, pp. 58-84.

 

 

(5) (a) Define and describe the differences between nominal, ordinal, interval and ratio levels of measurement in quantitative research including their place in univariate and bivariate data analysis. In your answer draw upon Fine et. al. (2003) and Gray and Hunter (2005) to give specific examples of the types of sociological data for which these different levels of measurement and analysis are utilized.

 

 

There is a relationship between the level of measurement and the appropriateness of various statistical procedures. Various statistics have been invented to deal with each level of measurement.

The least precise level of measurement is the nominal level. The categories of these variables are just names for the pigeonholes created when we classify people by sex, ethnicity, or religion. The categories don’t have any particular order from more to less or higher to lower.

The ordinal-level variables are those categories which have an order.  Almost any method of measuring attitudes results in ordinal-level variables, even if the variables include only two categories. Statistics that allow us to analyze ordinal-level variables are different from statistics for nominal-level variables and for higher-level variables

When the categories of a variable are legitimate numbers and not just code numbers attached to named categories, the measurement is more precise than with nominal- and ordinal-level variables.  If the categories are numbers, they probably have equal intervals between them.

The highest level of measurement is the ratio level.  Variables measured at the ratio level have all the characteristics of nominal-, ordinal-, and interval-level measures (categories that have names, order, and equal intervals), and the categories include a true zero point.  After the first three criteria are met, we then determine if the variable has a zero point. The zero point makes a ratio-level variable more precise than an interval-level variable.

A univariate analysis involves a single variable which purpose is to describe central tendency, dispersion-range, standard deviation, frequency distribution and graphs. Unlike unvariate analysis, bivariate analysis deals with causes or relationships of two or more variables. Its major purpose is to explain the analysis of two variables simultaneously, establish correlations, and relationships of the independent and dependent variables.

In the research conducted by Fine et al. (2003, p. 147), nominal level of measurement is evident by categorising the respondents into African Americans, Latinos, Whites and Asian/Pacific Islanders. In the same study (Fine et al., 2003, p. 147), ordinal level variable becomes apparent when the nominal categories were given with numerical values, as in the case of frequency distribution. Each category and its value is analysed using a univariate analysis to describe the means of the age of the respondents, or the frequency distribution with regards to ethnicity. The research on the labour market dynamics among Indigenous Australians (Gray and Hunter, 2005, p. 395) exemplifies the ratio level variable as well as the bivariate data analysis method. We may consider gender as one variable having ratio value by converting this nominal variable into a ratio variable. The second variable we may consider is the labour force status. We can then proceed with the establishing the probabilities within a specified range of time of 15 months, in the form of interval variable. The values generated by these variables can be analysed using bivariate analysis taking into account the degree of transition probabilities of the labour force status among males and females in a 15 months interval, by way of correlation.

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REFERENCES

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Fine, M, Freudenberg, N, Payne, Y, Perkins, T, Smith, K and Wanzer, K 2003 `Anything Can Happen With Police Around: Urban Youth Evaluate Strategies of Surveillance in Public Places’, Journal of Social Issues, vol. 59, no. 1, pp. 141-158.

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Taylor, NJ and Kearney, J 2005 ‘Researching Hard-to Reach Populations: Privileged Access Interviewers and Drug Using Parents’. Sociological Research Online, vol.10 no. 2, pp. 1-12

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REFERENCES

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Arber, S 2001, ‘Designing Samples’ in N Gilbert (ed) Researching Social Life Second Edition, Sage, London, pp. 58-84.

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Collins, R 2004, Interaction Ritual Chain. Princeton University Press, London.

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Cooper, G 2001 ‘Conceptualising Social Life’ in N Gilbert (ed) Researching Social Life Second Edition. Sage, London, pp. 1-13.

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Fine, M, Freudenberg, N, Payne, Y, Perkins, T, Smith, K and Wanzer, K 2003 `Anything Can Happen With Police Around: Urban Youth Evaluate Strategies of Surveillance in Public Places’, Journal of Social Issues, vol. 59, no. 1, pp. 141-158.

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Gray, M and Hunter, B 2005, ‘The Labour Market Dynamics of Indigenous Australians’, Journal of Sociology, vol.41 no. 4, pp. 386-405.

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Liddle, J, Kanda, M and Kobayashi, K 2004, ‘Gender, class and power in Japan: does social origin affect women’s access to power in employment?’, International Review of Sociology, vol. 14 no. 2, pp. 123 – 141

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Maynard, M 1998 ‘Feminists` knowledge and the knowledge of feminisms: epistemology, theory, methodology and method’ in T May and M Williams (eds.) Knowing the Social World. Open University Press, Buckingham.

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Strang, H, Sherman, L, Angel, CM.; Woods, DJ, Bennett, S Newbury-Birch, D and Inkpen, N 2006 ‘Victim Evaluations of Face-to-Face Restorative Justice Conferences: A Quasi-Experimental Analysis’. Journal of Social Issues, vol. 62 no.2, pp. 281– 306.

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Taylor, NJ and Kearney, J 2005 ‘Researching Hard-to Reach Populations: Privileged Access Interviewers and Drug Using Parents’. Sociological Research Online, vol.10 no. 2, pp. 1-12

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