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section 4

Bulmer, Martin (ed.), Sociological Research Methods: An Introduction, second edition, Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1990

This is a very comprehensive text on research methods, beginning with an identification of sociological problems, theories and methods, and how they all relate to each other. The various authors discuss a range of methods, such as surveys, archival research, official statistics, historiographies, interviews, and questionnaires. The discussions are conducted within the context of such issues as methodology, definition of concepts, theoretical implications, and other reasons for sociologists choosing qualitative or quantitative research methods, primary or secondary sources.

Dunsmuir, Audrey and Williams Lynn, How to do Social Research, London: Collins Educational, 1991

This is a text from the ‘Sociology in Action’ series, and utilises some excellent examples of research to exemplify the authors’ explanations of the different research methods. The book is broken down into three sections: ‘Understanding and Evaluating Sociological Research’, ‘Doing Your Own Sociological Research’, and ‘Skills for a Sociology Course’. The observational work of Patrick (A Glasgow Gang Observed); Humphreys (Tearoom Trade); the social surveys conducted by Townsend (Poverty in the United Kingdom); informal interviews of Oakley (From Here to Maternity) and Dobash and Dobash (Violence Against Wives); and the secondary data of the Glasgow University Media Group (War and Peace News) and Townsend and Davidson (Inequalities in Health) are all included. Additionally, the ‘triangulated’ approach of Barker (The Making of a Moonie) is also covered. Section Two provides useful tips and advice on how students might go about conducting their own research on such topics as stratification, health, and crime and deviance. The final section covers general communication skills that might be useful to any student of the social sciences.

Langley, Peter, Doing Social Research: A Guide to Coursework, Ormskirk: Causeway Press, 1987

This is a very accessible textbook that provides some useful tips on what makes a good piece of social research and how to undertake that research once a topic has been decided upon. There is plenty of helpful advice on how to choose appropriate research methods for the particular type of research being proposed, how to disaggregate and present the data gathered, and how to write it up. The book is divided into two sections: primary sources and secondary sources. There are a number of detailed explanations covering questionnaires, interviews, observations, official statistics, books and how to access useful material from various groups and the mass media.

Vaus, D A de, Surveys in Social Research, second edition, London: Unwin Hyman, 1990

Providing information and advice that helps students to be critical in their reading of research, de Vaus offers a comprehensive explanation and analysis of planning, carrying out and disaggregating research results. This book covers explanations on the nature of research, theoretical implications of it, and examples of research carried out using the survey method. This is a rather complicated text in places, particularly in its explanation of the analysis of research data. In fairness, this is largely down to the complexities of such analysis, rather than the language used in the text itself.

section 5

Bilton, Tony et al, Introductory Sociology, third edition, Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1996

This text addresses most of the themes of AH Sociology as well as addressing wider themes of relevance, such as modernity and post-modernity. There are useful chapters on both theory and methods and a final chapter on the overall usefulness of sociological approaches.

Cohen, Robin and Kennedy, Paul, Global Sociology, Basingstoke: Macmillan, 2000

This book not only covers many of the themes identified in the AH Sociology syllabus, but adds substantially to them in terms of its emphasis on the impact of globalisation on the contemporary world. Whilst this is an important text for the globalisation theme, its material is generally transferable across many aspects of the syllabus, most notable ‘Power and Politics’, ‘Work and Organisations’, ‘Gender’ and ‘Race’.

Fulcher, James and Scott, John, Sociology, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999

This book is a comprehensive introduction to sociology, covering the key themes of AH Sociology in an accessible and effective fashion. There is a detailed contents section, which should allow students quick and easy access to the information that they are looking for. There is a succession of information boxes with further explanation of some of the issues discussed in the text. At the end of each chapter there is a revision exercise that should help students reinforce their understanding of the key points in any given chapter.

Giddens, Anthony with Birdsall, Karen, Sociology, fourth edition, Cambridge: Polity Press, 2001

This is another edition of what is used by many universities as its introductory sociology text. It is well laid out and generally accessible for the student, but does not convey information in the same way as the texts of either Haralambos and Holborn or Fulcher and Scott. Nevertheless, regardless of its being an introduction to sociology, it is written in a fashion that is much more accessible than many other examples of Giddens’ work, which can be decidedly abstract. There is also access to a companion website that students might find particularly useful.

Haralambos, Michael and Holborn, Martin, Sociology: Themes and Perspectives, fifth edition, London: Collins, 2002

An immensely comprehensive text that covers every aspect of the AH syllabus in substantial depth. Most of the key sociological texts and theorists are covered in this significantly larger of several editions of this text. If there’s one drawback with this book, it is that the wealth of information might make it slightly difficult for students to choose the appropriate synopses of studies discerningly. Some excellent graphical information.

O’Donnell, Mike, Introduction to Sociology, fourth edition, Walton-on-Thames: Nelson, 1997

This text covers all of the topics in the AH syllabus, and allows the reader to engage with the text to some degree, by posing questions throughout, and addressing some issues at the end of each chapter with a series of additional readings.

Taylor, Paul et al, Sociology in Focus, Ormskirk: Causeway Press, 1995

This is a very useful text that offers somewhat briefer explanations of many areas of sociological discussion compared to Haralambos and Holborn. However, in each chapter there is an excellent set of activities with which students can engage actively with the text.

Additional resources

The Journal of the Association for the Teaching of the Social Sciences (ATSS) is produced quarterly by the ATSS, and is directed at ‘A’ level/level 1 (university). A useful suggestion would be to acquire either individual staff and/or student membership, whereupon the Journal is delivered free. Each edition comes with a range of useful discounted resources that can be accessed, and includes both articles and material for the classroom that is up-to-date and produced by a range of sociologists. Well known sociologists also contribute regularly to this journal.
Sociology Review is another quarterly journal that incorporates up-to-date articles from a range of sociologists on a variety of subjects.
Useful websites (ATSS website) (Electronic Journal of Sociology)

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