Examine the Advantages and Disadvantages of Using Both Positivist and Interpretivist Methods of Research (20)

810 Words Apr 14th, 2014 4 Pages
Examine the advantages and disadvantages of using both positivist and interpretivist methods of research (20)
Positivism is a theoretical point of view which concentrates on social facts, scientific methods and quantitative data. The research methods that are commonly used by positivists are questionnaires, structured interviews, structured non-participant observation and official statistics. These methods are used as they are objective and reliable. One sociological study that used positivist methods was Durkheim’s Suicide Study. Durkheim used official statistics to study suicide and demonstrate society as a science with its own distinct subject matter.
One advantage of using positivist methods of research is that the data is that the
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However one disadvantage of using positivist methods of research is that the methods lack depth. When using research to produce numerical data researchers want as short an answer as possible. This limits participants to what they can put and does not give them the opportunity to say all that they want to.
A second disadvantage of using positivist methods of research is that there is no focus on the individual. Once the data has been collected it is summarised, analysed and evaluated collectively and does not look at individual responses. This often results in meanings and feelings expressed by individuals being hidden behind numerical data and can also prevent people from participating.
A third disadvantage of using positivist methods of research is that they lack validity. As the data is summarised collectively and statistically it can distort reality and the true picture may be lost. Using positivist methods of research often results from the research measure another thing instead of what the researcher was claiming to measure therefore failing to produce an accurate picture of what happened.
Interpretivism is a sociological approach which focuses on the actions and the thoughts of individuals. The research methods that are commonly used by interpretivists are semi-structured and unstructured interviews, focus groups and observations. These methods are used as they produce a subjective

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