Sociology Method

The topic I’m looking at is on single parent and why it is increasing. I’m trying to get a number of information on single parenthood, and the impacts on the children being raised by a single parent.
The research method which I’m carrying out is a questionnaire. I chose a questionnaire because it is an easy way to find large amounts of information in a short time and it is also easy to compare results. It saves a lot of time.

I first did a pilot questionnaire which was not very successful because of error and misunderstanding in the questionnaire.

For my final questionnaire I used a representative sample because I wanted my questionnaire to represent everyone, I also selected people at random. In my pilot questionnaire I made sure that I included gender, age and ethnicity because it is important that I get different points of views from female and male because both genders have different opinions but some might be similar. I included age because different ages have different views on different issues. For example a person who is 70 might think single parenthood is wrong because in their time single parenthood would have been frowned upon. Whereas a person who is 17 would think being raised by a single parent is perfectly normal and a common thing and it shouldn’t be an issue any more.

Age can be personal and most elderly people like to keep there age confidential. So I didn’t put a question like ‘what age are you?’ because this would come across as rude. So I did a tick box question to find out roughly which age group they fit in. For example 13-17, 30-36.

Ethnicity is also important because in that way I know their background and I can see whether that has an impact on my result I get by comparing my questionnaires.

The first question on my pilot questionnaire was ‘Do you feel that the child being raised by a single parent has a negative effect on the child?’ this was a good closed question because this was my hypothesis. I gave them a choice to tick yes or no. Although I could put this question on a graph and compare my results I didn’t think about what if the person was not sure of that particular question. By putting a yes or a no limits the answer that they can give. The person doing this questionnaire could either be unsure. I should have put depends as one of my choices. I made sure I did that my improving my questionnaire.

I made sure that I gave open questions because in that way the person doing the questionnaire can get a chance to express there answer in more detail.

My last question on my questionnaire was, ‘why do you think that there are so many divorces today?’ and the choices I gave were

• Changes in law
• Media images of romantic love
• Changes in status
• Seculisation

I also left a couple of lines so that they can explain there chosen answer but it wasn’t a good idea. I couldn’t put the information on to a graph because some people obviously think that not all the statements are as equally important. So I modified the question by making sure that the person ranked the statement by 1 being the most important and 4 being the least. In that way I can compare my results on a graph and see what people’s priorities are.

In my final questionnaire I had a lot of closed questions. I think this was a good idea and it was very effective because it is quick and I can draw up graphs and make comparisons of what different people at different age, gender and ethnicity think.

I wanted short answers and straight to the point. I didn’t want long paragraph, because it takes up too much time and people don’t have enough time to spend on questionnaires. By doing this questionnaire it doesn’t benefit the person and they might get bored and make up answers, not take it too seriously or even rush the questionnaire. Therefore my research would be pointless.

In my questionnaire I didn’t ask questions as if it was personally about them, for example ‘Would you allow your child to keep in contact with their parent even though they can not be trusted?’ Questions like this can come across personal because it’s about them and what actions they would take in that particular situation. They might be hesitant in what to write and make up answers. So in my questionnaire I wrote in a third party, for example ‘Do you think parent hood is fair?’ In that way I will get a more realistic answer, and the question is not directly about them, however I know how they would approach and react in that situation.

My pilot questionnaire that I sent out was all female and the ages were 13-14, I found that they all had similar views and opinions on the topic. Therefore I couldn’t really compare my results. So for my final questionnaire I made sure that I gave my questionnaire to random people at different ages, genders and ethnicity. So I can compare my results and analyse it.

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