Identify the general steps in developing the different types (i.e., formats) of questionnaires, and the forms of data-collection appropriate to each one. List four components of the strategy to...

Identify the general steps in developing the different types (i.e., formats) of questionnaires, and the forms of data-collection appropriate to each one. List four components of the strategy to move from a very large, general social question, toward a specific and answerable question of sociological interest, including C. Wright Mills' statements about what makes a works a sociological study. Pick a social problem (problems in the family, problems in education, etc.) you are familiar with and examine that using all the theoretical perspectives.

Expert Answers
pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

You have asked many questions here that are not all related very closely.  I will answer as many as I can in a reasonable space.

The biggest question here is the last one, so I will answer it first.  I will look at the issue of poverty from the points of view of the three main theoretical perspectives in sociology.

The first theoretical perspective is functionalism (also called structuralism or structural functionalism).  This perspective holds that a society is similar to a biological organism in that each has parts that all play their respective roles.  In a biological organism, each organ plays a role in maintaining life.  In a society, each institution plays a role in maintaining order and stability.  From this perspective, then, even poverty has a role to play and is necessary for our society.  Poverty might be necessary in our society so that people can be motivated to work.  If we had a society in which no one could become poor, it is likely (from this perspective) that people would not be very motivated to go to school, become educated, and get a job.  Furthermore, no one would want to do the “dirty work” of our society.  There would be no incentive for someone to be a roofer or a fast food worker if there were no poverty.  For these reasons, poverty needs to exist so that people in our society will be motivated to work hard so that they can avoid poverty.

The second theoretical perspective is the conflict perspective.  In this view, society is not made up of institutions that work together to keep society stable and orderly.  Instead, society’s institutions and conditions come about as the result of conflict between groups.  Various groups compete with one another at all times and the winners get to shape the institutions of society.  From this perspective, poverty exists because the poor have been defeated by the rich and the rich have created institutions that help keep the poor in poverty.  For example, we have a system of school funding in which schools in poor towns or neighborhoods are not funded as well as schools that are attended by rich students.  We also have a system where it is difficult for a poor person to attend a good college (or, in fact, any college) because of the high costs.  Furthermore, the wealthy have created a system in which we believe that it is morally and economically right for taxpayers to pay for football stadiums so rich team owners can make more profit while it is wrong for taxpayers to fund welfare and other programs for the poor.  In these ways (conflict theorists say) poverty comes about because the rich have won their competition against the poor.

The final sociological perspective is symbolic interactionism.  Unlike the first two perspectives, symbolic interactionism does not look at the macro level of society.  Instead, it looks at the ways in which individuals interact with one another and their society.  It looks at the impacts of those interactions on society and the impact of society on those interactions.  It argues that individuals and society work together to create meanings that define people, groups, and things.  Someone who uses this perspective would look at poverty very differently.  They would look at the ways in which our society defines poor people.  They would note that we tend to define poor people as lazy and unworthy while we define well-off people as deserving and hard-working.  They would also look at how poor people look at themselves and at the kind of culture they create.  They might argue that the poor contribute to their own poverty by defining early sexual activity and child-bearing as a good thing and by defining criminal activity as a normal thing.  Thus, a sociologist working from this perspective would be looking more at the effects of poverty on individuals and the way that society defines poverty and poor people than at the overall causes of poverty.

Having taken up that much space on your main question, I have only a little space to devote to parts of your other questions.  There are two main types of questionnaires that sociologists use.  These are closed questionnaires and open questionnaires.  Closed questionnaires are those that call for a specific response.  A closed questionnaire might give a respondent a series of questions to answer on a five point scale (for example, from “strongly disagree” to “strongly agree”).  The respondent’s choice of answers is very limited.  This is a good way to gather quantitative data.  Open questionnaires are those that call for the respondent to answer in any way they wish.  For example, an open questionnaire might ask a respondent “what is your attitude towards illegal immigrants?”  The respondent would then be able to answer as they wish, rather than being forced to choose among a variety of options.  This sort of questionnaire is best-suited for gathering qualitative data.