Public Opinion Survey. Research Paper. Part 2


We have promised  to start with yet another classification which will demonstrate your deep understanding of the essence of the topic under consideration:

  • Appraisal opinion expresses the attitude to certain problems or facts. It has more emotions than analytical conclusions;
  • Analytical and constructive public opinion are closely linked: adoption of any solution requires deep and comprehensive analysis, which, in its turn, needs elements of theoretical thinking, and sometimes hard brainwork. But their contents do not coincide;
  • Regulative public opinion develops and implements certain norms of social relations and uses a whole complex of norms, principles, traditions, customs, etc. It usually implements the code of practice that is fixed in moral consciousness of people, groups, and collectives. Public opinion can also act in the form of positive or negative judgments.

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Methods of Collecting Information

There are three main classes of methods:

  1. Direct observation;
  2. Analysis of documents;
  3. Polls that fall into two subclasses: interview and questionnaire survey.

Observation means direct registration of events by an eyewitness. It can have a different character. Sometimes an observer sees events happening. Sometimes he or she can use data from observations of other people. Observation can be simple and scientific. A simple one is not subject to a plan and is conducted without a definitely developed system. Scientific observation is different because:

  • It is subject to a clear research goal and clearly formulated objectives;
  • Scientific observation is planned according to a well-considered procedure;
  • All observation data are recorded in protocols or diaries in a particular system;
  • Information obtained through scientific observation should be subject to control validity and sustainability.

Observation is classified:

  • By the degree of formalization uncontrolled (non-standardized or structureless) and controlled (standardized or structural) observations are distinguished. For uncontrolled observation only a principal plan is used, and for controlled observation events are recorded according to a detailed procedure;
  • Depending on the position of an observer, participating (or incorporated) and simple (unincorporated) observations are distinguished. During incorporated observation a researcher imitates the entrance into a social environment, adapting to it and analyzing the events from within. In unincorporated observation a researcher observes from the outside, without interfering with the events.

    In both cases, observation can be made openly or incognito. One of the modifications of the incorporated type is called stimulating observation. This method implies the impact of a researcher on the events that he or she observes. A sociologist creates a certain situation in order to stimulate events, which makes it possible to evaluate the reaction to this interference

  • By conditions of organization observations are divided into field (in natural conditions) and laboratory (in an experimental situation).

The procedure for any observation consists of answers to the questions: "What to observe?", "How to do it?", and "How to keep records?". We will try to find these answers. 

As you know, the essence of each university or college assignment is the need to answer questions, and this is exactly what the teacher wants from your work.

The first question is answered by the research program, that is by the state of hypotheses, empirical indicators of the highlighted concepts, and the research strategy as a whole.

In the absence of clear hypotheses, when the study is conducted according to an approximate plan, simple observation is used. The purpose is to come up with a hypothesis for a more precise description of an observed object. The following concepts are used:

  • General characteristics of a social situation, including such elements as: the sphere of activity (production or non-production one, specification of its features, etc.); rules and regulations determining the state of an object in general (formal and generally accepted ones, but not fixed in instructions); the degree of self-regulation of the object of observation (to what extent its state is determined by external factors and internal causes);
  • An attempt to determine typicality of the object observed in this situation with respect to other objects and situations: the ecological environment, sphere of life, social, economic and political atmosphere, state of public consciousness at the moment;
  • Subjects or participants of social events. Depending on the general task of observation, they can be classified: by demographic and social characteristics; by the content of activities (the nature of work, the sphere of employment, the sphere of leisure); by the status in a team or group (team leader, subordinate, administrator, public figure, team member, etc.); by official functions in joint activities concerning another under-study object (the duties, rights, real possibilities of their implementation, rules that they follow strictly and rules that are neglected); by informal relations and functions (friendship, communication, informal leadership, authority, etc.).
  • The purpose of activity and social interests of subjects and groups, general and group goals and interests; formal and informal ones; approved and disproved ones in this environment; coherence of these interests and goals;
  • The structure of activities on the part of: external motives, internal conscious intentions, means used to achieve goals, intensity of activity (productive, reproductive, tense, or calm one), and their division by practical results (material and spiritual products);
  • Regularity and frequency of observed events: by a number of the abovementioned parameters and by the typical situations that are described by them.

Such observation allows you to better understand the object. Based on pre-collected data, the observation tasks are specified. Some aspects of observed events are studied in more detail, while the others are completely omitted.

Thus, after the preliminary stage, observation passes to the stage of a more formalized search. Be sure to indicate this aspect in your college paper.

A detailed analysis of the problem is preceded by a rigorous procedure of controlled observation, based on the theory and uncontrolled observation data. Now individual phenomena, events, and forms of behavior of people should be interpreted in terms of the logic of research. They acquire the meaning of indicators of some more general properties or actions.

So, we have analyzed the main aspects of this topic. We hope that this essay sample will be useful to you and help you better understand the labyrinths of sociology.

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