A Matter of Record

A Matter of Record : Documentary Sources in Social Research

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This textbook aims to give an introduction to the use of documentary sources in social research. It is designed to be a companion to courses in research methods in the social sciences and history and a reference text for those beginning research on documentary sources. The book begins with an overview of the nature of social research and the variety of methods which can be used. Scott identifies three types of evidence useful in such research - physical evidence, personal evidence and documentary evidence. He argues that the logic of research is common to each type of evidence, but that each involves specific methodological issues. An appraisal grid for the analysis of documents is presented, showing the criteria which must be used in evaluating documentary sources. In the following chapters these criteria are applied to the variety of documentary sources available to the social researcher: census data and official statistics; government publications; directories and yearbooks; personal diaries and letters.show more

Product details

  • Electronic book text | 200 pages
  • John Wiley and Sons Ltd
  • Polity Press
  • United Kingdom
  • 0745687725
  • 9780745687728

Table of contents

List of Figures VII Preface ix 1 Social Research and Documentary Sources 1 Evidence and data in social research 2 What are documents? 10 2 Assessing Documentary Sources 19 Authenticity: soundness and authorship 19 Credibility: sincerity and accuracy 22 Representativeness: survival and availability 24 Meaning: literal and interpretative understanding 28 3 The Use of Documents in Social Research 36 The search for King Arthur 38 Who wrote the Zinoviev letter? 43 The social meanings of suicide 48 Social research and the relativity of accounts 54 4 The Official Realm: Public and Private 59 The State, surveillance and secrecy 60 Official documents in the State 63 Official records in the private sphere 78 5 Administrative Routines and Situated Decisions 83 Conceptual instruments and administrative routines 84 Situated decisions 90 6 Explorations in Official Documents 96 Occupation, class and inequality 96 Class schemas and the problem of meaning 111 Measuring the class structure 117 The records of health, welfare and education 123 Business and industrial records 129 7 The Public Sphere and Mass Communication 136 Public opinion, the media and the audience 137 Images, content and meaning 143 Directories, almanacs and yearbooks 156 The annals of the rich and powerful 163 8 Personal Documents 173 Diaries, letters and autobiographies 174 Photographs and visual sources 185 Notes 198 Index 227show more

About John Scott

John Scott is a reader in sociology at the University of Leicester, where he has taught since 1976. He is the author of Directors of Industry' (1984) and Corporations, Classes and Capitalism' (1979)show more

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