Qualitative Data in Sociology and Max Weber’s Theory Argumentative Essay

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Sociology are is studies y of many things such as about people and things around us. Most people know and have experience of family life, the education system, work, the mass media, and religion simply by living as a member of society quoted … Many people in society think that what sociologists study is just common sense and knowledge. But they are making mistaken assumptions. Common sense are just opinions and assumptions that are made by people but are not always true. Sociologist research show that the explanations and ideas of common sense made by people can sometimes false. For example, ideas such as there is no such things as poverty in modern Britain, poor people and unemployment are inadequate and lazy. They believe that rich people are rich because they work hard to get to their potential and people also believe that man and women naturally fall in love with each other and live together. All of these assumptions made by people are been questioned by sociologist. Sociologists have gone out and studied these common-sense ideas that people believe and they are not always true. For example, people’s common sense views would be that people are poor because they are lazy and inadequate but sociologists investigate and research why people are in poverty it might be because they are not getting enough wages or budget to support them and their family.. People can gain knowledge from sociologist about particular things that sociologists have studied for example,knowledge that people have about the changing Britain in society, the increasing rates of divorce and the increasing number of single parents is because sociologists investigated and studied about these factors.

Another example can be crime, people with common sense views would think that people who are criminals are attention seekers, want to fit in and trying to be cool but sociologist would go and study why people commit crime and it can be because of poverty, bad upbringing parents have not taught them about moral values in societies which is right and wrong and can also be that their parents might have been abusive and harsh towards them which turned them into criminals. Another example can be obesity which people with common sense views would say that people with obesity are not healthy, they are lazy, they do not care about themselves and they can’t be bothered going to the gym where sociologist would go and research it might be because of genetics, medication and depression. Sociological theory is different from common sense views in two ways-sociologists use a sociological imagination this involves looking at familiar studies of daily life sociologists looks them at unfamiliar ways or different angle. They ask if things are common sense as people say they are. Sociologists re-construct existing assumptions made by people by studying how things were are in the past, how they have changed, how they differ from societies and how they change in the future. Sociologists look at evidence they have collected from their study and them come to a conclusion. The explanations and conclusions of sociologists are based on evidence gathered through research procedures to support their research.

Quantitative and Qualitative Research Methods

Quantitative data is a research method to deals with quantity and numbers. Information is mainly represented in numerical form such as percentages and figures. Quantitative data focuses on numbers and mathematical calculations that be calculated and also computed. This type of date can be used in computation and statistical test. It can take measurements in height, weight, volume, length, size, humidity, speed and age.Quantative data can be found in forms of graphs and tables. Quantitative data can also be used in surveys, experiments, postnatal questionnaire and interviews.

Qualitative data is information that records people’s feelings, thoughts and opinions, actions etc but it is not numerical form it is written form. This type of date is less structured which at goes depth in to the topic to gain information about people’s motivation, thinking and attitudes. While this brings depth understanding into your research question it becomes hard to analyse. Examples of this could in-depth interview, non-participant observations, participant observation, case studies and personal document. The difference between quantitative data and qualitative data is that quantitative data is structured and qualitative date is less structured so it allows the respondents to give information in depth where quantitative data does not allow respondents to add information. Quantitative data usually have a minimal involvement in the researcher where qualitative have high numbers of people in the research. Quantative methods are low in costs as it can cover large number with small amount of money where qualitative data can be costly is high because of the high involvement of the researches. Quantitative date responds easy to quantify where qualitative it is not easily to quantify because of data tends to be very descriptive.

Functionalism is a structural theory and it was developed by Emile Durkheim who was interested in how social order is possible and how society can function effectively. Durkheim theory was a consensus theory and focused on society should be functioned. The macro level is focused on society as a whole. His first book he ever wrote was the division of labour in the society. The division of labour in society created an exchange system where people become very dependent on with each and develop feelings of social solidarity. People can be united through trust and reciprocity.

Durkheim stated modern society is made up of variety institution: the economic system, the political system and education system. The economic system the way in which people work, the pollical system where politicians decide policies that their country should be should be ruled and governed with, the education system where children are educated into the norms of the society wh, the religious system where people are taught and told to think about the most highest and most sacred values of society and last one is the family system where parents bring up their children and teach to respect social values. All of these systems are connected with each other. When children are brought up in a family system, they should be taught the values of society which is right and wrong that places high regard on such as law-abiding behaviour.

Children should be taught to respect social values is part of the religious system and the education system. Political system describes what laws are and teaches what law-abiding behaviour involves. When a child enters adulthood, they live their life the way they have been taught about right and wrong in various social systems. Because they have been taught about right and wrong in the various social system such religion, family and politics they will have moral sense in which right and wrong in various activities which will take place in their life. When they work in a job (this part of the economic system) where they will know that such behaviour can be unaccepted such as stealing from their place of work. Durkheim states that society system work with each other rather than against each other than social order will be possible and chaos can be. If everyone follows the norms and values in society will be functioned properly. Emile Durkheim states everyone is dependent on each other and will work with each other in order to keep society functioning. Modern economic system is made up of complex division of labour. This means they are different types of jobs and occupation and different responsiblies. In modern societies there are lots of different kind of jobs, each of them play their on special part to make society run and function effectively.

For example fire bridges put out the fire, shopkeeper sell the goods, coalminers dig coal and teachers teach children. Each jo relies on each other either indirectly or directly. For example, in teachers in school would need light in order to teach children if there were no electricity in school to power the lights. The lightening is made possible by electricity plant workers who are also dependant on coal miners that provides the coal that drives electricity turbines. This shows everyone is dependent on each other if they all work together it will keep society functioned. Functionalism theory also tells us everyone plays a role in society in order to keep it functioning for example society requires everyone to do a particular role in society in order to keep it functioning. The people who have the job of being teachers should be fulfilling the requirements. The teachers are part of the education system and their job is to teach children what is right and wrong in society. The education system makes sure that young people of the society are been made into accepting the values of the society such as accepting what is right and wrong.Without the education system they’re would a lack of shared values people would know what is right and wrong and this would create a lack of cooperation amongst people in society. Durkheim states that particular parts society is like the body of an animal or human being. Each organ has to function properly in order to be alive and health just like society social institutions should work properly in order to function if one dies out or damages it would create chaos and society would break apart.

For example, the political system of the modern society is like the brain which makes decision as howother parts should work in the country. The economic system is similar to body’s digestive organs it makes sure that body has enough material (such as food) to keep it functioning and working. The family, education and religious system are like heart. In animal and human beings, the heart pumps the blood the body requires around it. This is similar to the systems as they heart pumps blood around the body in the society the systems also pump moral values such right and wrong, good and bad around the body of the society. The society is like a body that has to be fed (economic system), guided about laws that should be followed (political system) and moral values thatb teaches us what is right and wrong in society (family, education and religious system). For example we would know that killing and crime are morally accepted in society because we have been taught in the education system.If these systems work altogether in harmony with each other it will create a social consensus. If everyone in society are working together it will benefit the society. If these systems were not contributed in overall life of the society, the social body would be destroyed and their would-be anarchy and the society would break apart.

The strength of functionalism theory is that it looks at society as whole, refers to social structure when analysing social behaviour. Looks at society is whole and all interrelated parts and also identifies power interest of different group. The weaknesses are ignoring individuals or group interactions and it finds it difficult to explain conflict and changes.

Max Weber was one of the founding fathers of sociology. Weber saw that both structural and action theories approaches is necessary to have a full understanding of society and social change. Weber believed that structural emphasis was not enough by explain complex patterns of social life. He stated that individual and their actions matter to. Max weber did a difference between animals and people and he stated people are more capable than animals because they capacity to understand that our behaviour might impact other people around us which animals would not understand. One of most important works he did was on economy and society which was published in 1920.Weber analysed motives behind human action. Weber believes that society is made up of people communicating with each other if these communications did not happen there would be no society at all. For Weber believed that would have to start with the individual and how they communicate with each other. He stated that we start at the basic levels, and then work out toward looking at the general factors such as social structures or system. Weber (1907) was more focused and interested in studying the different types of action human engage in and why they act in certain situations. This give sociologist to discover why particular individuals act as they do. Sociologists studies show that actions that are meaningful to the person carrying them out. A person carries out an action and the actor tries to attach some kind of meaning with it. For example in Scotland a person nodding their head tell us they are agreeing to something. The sociologist is tries to understand what the meaning of the action was for the person and who carried out the action. The sociologist gets inside the head of the person and sees how the world from their point of view. Weber states that before the cause of action you should understand the meaning attached to it by the individual. There are two types of understanding was Aktuellas Verstehen-or direct observational understanding this is where you can observe what people are doing by looking at them closely.

For example, you can observe someone chopping woods and you can even notice observe their emotional state from their body language or facial expressions. The second type of understanding is empathetic understanding in this when you can put yourself in the situation of others and understand the meaning of act in terms of motives you have given rise to. For example, you would find out why someone is chopping wood are they doing it because they need firewood, is clearing forest a part of their job, are taken their anger out on the work or they because they enjoy it. Weber stated to understand other people’s situation you have to get into their shoes during activity. Weber argued that three things that shape a market situation that is class, status and party. Weber stated that black underclass faced a lot of discrimination and racism in society. Weber theory showed the position of ethnic groups in the Uk. Class is associated with market situation the labour market position of the black underclass had been aggravate because of economic recession in various industries. The statues of the black underclass were put in a position that very different from the white working class. The black underclass was not treated equally as the white working class. Weber stated that a set of religious ideas were responsible for the manipulation in for capitalism in northern Europe in the 16th and-17th century. People were made to believe that capitalism was good for the working class people Weber stated we need to understand these ideas and how they made people think about themselves in order to capitalism. Weber believes that society encourages certain types of motivations for action they are 4 types of action-traditional social action the way it has always been done, affective social action is when you don’t think about the consquences,values rational social action is when behaviour is motivated to aim for higher purpose or action and instrumental rationally action which carried out to aim a certain potential or a goal, you do something because it leads to a result.

Max Weber Strength and Weaknesses

The strength of the theory is that he recognised that we need to understand individual to understand the meaning of society in general. The weaknesses of the theory is that too much focus is on shaping the individual. It deos not mention females in society and the discrimination in society.It also does not mention about children and how important they are in society.

Similarities and difference between theory

The similarities of the Max weber and functionalism are both sociological theories and they both describe how society works.They both want equality in society. The difference between functionalism and Max Weber theory is that functionalism is structural theory and max weber is an action theory.

Another difference is that Max Weber theory looks at individuals and interpret the meaning and action of themselves and others in society where functionalism theory talks about society is a whole and systems that should work in order to create stable and social order society.

Functionalism is consensus theory that talks stresses harmony and unity in order society to function but max weber theory talks inequality of the class, status and party.  Functionalism theory states that religion system is system which is good because of moral values what is right and wrong but max weber states religions is used to manipulate people.

I think unstructured interview would be a good research method as the education authority wants to know more about the factors that contributed to young people joining the scheme and unstructured because lots of data can be collected and information on related topic can arise from the response. The researcher can find out more about the personal circumstances and why they are joining apprenticeship scheme. Unstructured interviews allow respondents to talk on their own depth and they can pick their own words they are no restrictions. This can help a researcher to develop a real sense of understanding of a certain situation. Respondents can go depth why they have chosen to join the apprenticeship scheme and also find more relevant information about them. Unstructured interview allows the respondents to add free information and questions are not pre-set the researches can ask questions that derive from one response to another question. unstructured interview are more open ended and it is like a conversation. For example, “can you tell me what you did in the weekend?” this can allow the respondents to give a more detailed response and allows the respondent to answer the question at any length he or she wants. The interview has an opportunity to probe the respondent’s answers and can request the respondents to go into detail and clarification.

Reference list

  1. Sweeney, lewis, Etherington,T,J,N(2013) An introduction: Sociology and Scotland
  2. Browne (1992)An introduction to sociology
  3. Revise on sociology (2017) Max Weber Social action of theory, https://revisesociology.com/2017/01/26/max-webers-social-action-theory/ Accessed on the 20/11/2018
  4. Understanding functionalised theory(2018)One of the major theoretical perspectives in sociology, https://www.thoughtco.com/functionalist-perspective-3026625 Accessed on the 22/11/2018Snap survey(2011) the difference between qualitative data and quantitative research, https://www.snapsurveys.com/blog/qualitative-vs-quantitative-research/ Accessed on the 20/11/2018
  5. Simply psychology(2014) the interview methods https://www.simplypsychology.org/interviews.html Accessed on the 22nd of November 2018

Cite this paper

Qualitative Data in Sociology and Max Weber’s Theory Argumentative Essay. (2020, Nov 11). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/qualitative-data-in-sociology-and-max-webers-theory/



Does sociology use qualitative research?
Yes, sociology uses qualitative research methods to understand social phenomena and explore the subjective experiences of individuals and groups. This includes methods such as interviews, observations, and case studies.
Is sociology qualitative or quantitative?
It depends on the research question and data collected. Generally, sociology uses both qualitative and quantitative methods.
What is qualitative data in sociology?
Qualitative data is a type of data that is expressed in a non-numerical form. This data is used to understand and describe the characteristics of a certain group of people.
What is qualitative research method in sociology?
Qualitative research is a type of social science research that collects and works with non-numerical data and that seeks to interpret meaning from these data that help understand social life through the study of targeted populations or places.
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