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The chosen subject area of my coursework is family. The reason I have chosen this particular area of sociology is because family is known worldwide and exists in everyone, however overtime the family structure and the roles in the family have changed.
I am going to investigate why the divorce rate is increasing and to what extent the media has an impact on this choice, and I also would like to find out the effects of divorce on children.
These issues are important in Britain today, because most families are no longer nuclear families.
Therefore, I want to investigate and find out why this is happening and what effect the media has on these families. I will look at sociologists such as Karl Marx.
The hypothesis is that I would like to find out why the divorce rate is increasing (1/3 – UK), this maybe due to the fact that women have more rights. In addition, I would like to know if the media is having a larger impact on the decision of divorce, and what effect it has on children.
Therefore, I predict that the divorce rate is increasing because the media has a larger acceptance of divorce, which therefore has a greater impact of why the divorce rate is increasing.
The three aims of my coursework will be:
1. Why is the divorce rate increasing?
2. To what extent does the media have an impact on this decision?
3. What effect does divorce have on children?
I will use primary research to find out the cause of divorce and the effect on children.
I will prove/disprove my hypothesis by completing primary research such as interviews, questionnaires and surveys.
I will use secondary research to find out the rate of divorce and how long it takes them to get divorced.
I will look at sociologists who have completed work that is on the same topic as mine such as Karl Marx.
I will define key sociological concepts such as monogamy and bigamy.
Having decided upon my research topic and hypothesis, the next stage of my coursework is to think about how I might conduct my primary research. There are several different methods I could use and part of my decision is to what type of data I want to collect.
There are two different types of data, they are quantitative and qualitative. Quantitative data is data in the form of figures and statistics, whereas qualitative data is in the form of description. Because of the topic of my research I have decided that I primarily want to collect qualitative data. This is because I am investigating reasons why and the causes of divorce and this information cannot be collected in the form of facts or statistics.
There are two main methods that I could use: Interviews and Questionnaire
An interview is a conversation face to face or over the telephone, during an interview a set of questions are asked, these could be structured or unstructured. An interview can be used to collect quantitative data if the questions are closed because you can then convert the results into figures, an example would be if you were finding out how many people liked chocolate ice cream, there would be only one answer – yes or no, this is known as a structured interview.
Or qualitative if the questions that are used are open because if the questions are open the respondent can express their views therefore the answer will be descriptive, an example would be if you were trying to find out why people like chocolate ice cream, and this is known as an unstructured interview.
The advantages of using an interview would be that there is a good response rate and it explains the purpose of whatever the interviewer is trying to find out. However the disadvantages is that it is expensive, time consuming and the interviewer can sometimes influence the respondents’ decision.
The other option is to do a questionnaire. These can be used to collect either quantitative or qualitative data depending on the type of questions used.
Questionnaires can either be completed by the respondent or filled out by me.
The advantages of using a questionnaire are that it is cheap, there is a larger response rate and it is quick. However there are several disadvantages to consider such as there may be some confusion and the respondent may not be able to follow the instructions.
Having fully considered the options I have decided to conduct both interviews and questionnaires. I feel that this will be the best for my chosen topic because I will be using interviews to gather qualitative descriptive data because I would like to find out people’s opinions and attitudes and I will be using questionnaires to collect quantitative data such as figures and statistics. Questionnaires and interviews is the best method to use because I want to find out why the divorce rate is increasing, the questionnaires results will give me secure, simple statistics, and the unstructured interview will allow me to explore in depth the reason of the answer.
Next, I need to think about how I will find my subjects. I need to select a representative sample – this means that I need to collect information from a range of ages, ethnic groups and both sexes. I will do this by creating questionnaires for a range of both sexes and ages – young and old, because I want to look at different people’s opinions. My sample is not going to be large, but large enough to represent the population of Britain.
For my secondary research, I will look at mass media material in articles, and programmes relevant to my research of divorce. I will also go to my local and school library to collect and gather secondary research. To work out key issues and define relevant sociological words I will use sociology textbooks such as
* Active sociology for GCSE – Jonathan Blundell
This will tell me quantitative data, some figures and statistics about divorce. I will use newspaper articles to try to find out the public’s opinions on why they think the divorce rate is increasing. I decided to use the internet to find out qualitative data such as what the effect the media has on divorce and the effect of divorce on children.
I chose this method because I will use the internet to gain more descriptive and detailed information. I will then use newspapers and textbooks to have an overall view using quantitative data.
This is related to my hypothesis because I am finding out the divorce rate, this data will be quantitative and given as statistics. I will also be finding out the causes and effects of divorce, for this I will collect qualitative data.
The pilot study
A pilot study is a small scale testing of a survey. I will conduct a pilot study first to see if it is reasonable and if it gives me valid results/data. I will then test to see if I need to make any changes for my actual questionnaire.
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