Approaches in Data Collection

Compare the different approaches and data collection instruments used in social science research to explore issues in relation to children and young people.

Social science involves different specialist fields that use a variety of research approaches that are not exclusive to each area of study. An important decision for the researcher is to select the appropriate and effective research methodology to explore their area of interest. All adopt an empirical approach to creating knowledge, which may provide measurable benefits for children and young people. Empirical research should be a 'systematic investigation of experience…sceptical and ethical' (Robson, 2002, cited in Fraser, 2011, p17. It may expand knowledge but settles few fundamental arguments (Fraser 2011).

Through examples of methodology, it is possible to identify issues that can cause contention and possibly confound results. Although mainly theoretical this essay will draw on research examples, from Bowlby, Takei (2001), Sutton et al (1999), Punch (2001) and Aldgate & Bradley (1999) and examine arguments from Punch (2011), Frazer (2011), Glaser & Strauss (1967), Creswell, (1994) and Fontana & Frey, (1994).

Different paradigms emerged in relation to research with children and young people. Firstly the scientific paradigm, encompassing positivism and verification; this was based on natural/noble science methodology, which led to issues regarding the subjective nature of human subjects. The structuralist paradigm favoured by Durkheim and Piaget suggests an underlying objective structure, which can be discovered through empirical research. This still involved experimental method, which could be tested for reliability and validity, through repetition. The Interactionist paradigm moved away from scientific ‘facts’ and tried to establish attribution of meanings by individuals. Advocates of this include Mead and Goffman. The Social constructionist/post-structuralist paradigm proposes that understanding...