In this chapter I aim to gain a through understanding of sociological methods and to look at various methods and their merits and problems, i.e. quantitative etc. I will also attempt to show the methods that will be used in study, and asses the reasons for my choice. It will also be beneficial to look at possible problems and measures to minimise these problems At a basic level research falls into two categories, the positivist and the anti-positivist approach. However it is important to note that sociologists generally do not use one method but combine both approaches to obtain rounded results. And that the research must always be reliable, valid and representative. Positivism is used by structuralists and was used and developed by Aug ste Comte.
Positivists carry out scientific methods, it is otherwise known as the philosophy of science, examples of which are; looking at statistics, or any numerical data. Also included in this type of research are questionnaires, controlled experiments, structured interviews etc. Positivist research can give us knowledge of something actually occurring or existing but it cannot delve deeper and discover the reasoning behind it. The second approach to sociological research is anti-positivism; this is where the reasoning behind the knowledge is looked at.
It is often described as the texture and feel of a matter. Anti-positivists use qualitative methods of research, which include, participant observation, unstructured interviews, direct observation, and conversational analysis. An example of a sociologist who conducted research in this way is Weber. Now I will look into a few methods of research in a more detailed way, these are the methods which I am most likely to use, either individually or a combination of both. As I hav chosen to use both positivist and anti-positivist methods, I will need to examine a selection. Questionnaires will be very important in my study as they will provide an insight and a feel for the general consensus of young women as well as providing me with a set of results to work with in numerical form.
Questionnaires can either be given to people to take away and answer or asked by me and answered n the spot. There are advantages and disadvantages with both. If the questionnaires are taken away, some would never be returned and I would inevitably lose some this way. Also, people read questions differently and so, if they read them themselves, I may receive different responses because the question is being read in a different way.
However the advantage of this is that people are more likely to be honest when answering alone and anonymously, especially young girls who from my hypothesis I am assuming are easily influenced. The advantages of on the spot questionnaires are that I am guaranteed to get answers from all those who are wiling to answer the questions, so I will not lose any responses, however I may not get as many in the first place because people may be intimidated by talking to me and answering personal questions out loud. Another disadvantage with this is that I may guide the answers with my tone of voice in the questioning. However, in the same way I will be able to ensure that the question is read as it is intended to be read. Also people react differently when they know they are being observed and watched. After looking at all the advantages and disadvantages, I have decided to send questionnaires, not stand and ask the questions, this is mainly due to the intended nature of the questions.
With both methods I think it is important to use a mixture of closed and open ended questions. The person completing the questionnaire will have the option, to remain anonymous and just complete the questionnaire as well as declining the questionnaire altogether, if she decides not to remain anonymous then she will also have the choice of agreeing to further research, for example an in depth interview. My intended methods are supported by P. Trawler, Investigating the Media, 1991 pg 19. Courtney and Whipple, 1983 p 45, Jean Baudrillard, a post modernist and Golding. Therefore interviews will be my next method of research, from those girls who decide that they would like to be involved in further research, I will look at their answers and to further my research interview a selection. The interviews will give me a very in depth method of research, it will bring me more information than the questionnaire because it will be more personal, the interview will be semi-structured = -.
I think it is more effective to have a structured interview because it is more focused and it very much depends on the personality of the interviewee as to if questions need to be continually asked or if the conversation flows naturally. This is why I think it is safer to have a structured interview, and a set list of questions. Although I do appreciate that with this method I can only draw from the interview the answers from the questions I have asked, very little extra information is likely to emerge. I will tape the interview, with the interviewees permission because it can be very disjointing to ask someone to repeat their answer and this may result in a different answer. This method of research is time consuming but, I think this is justified because I am only selecting a few, maybe only four people to interview on an individual basis and with careful time management I dont see this as an issue. In order to draw out the most important information from these interviews, I will present them as case studies.
Observation, direct or participant is will not be of a great deal of use in my study, so it is not a method of research that I am planning to use. This is because I am looking at attitudes and values as opposed to behaviour and norms. It is important to me what people think not so much on how they act. Each method involves a sample, a sample is by definition. A method for collecting information and drawing inferences about a larger population or universe, from the analysis of only part thereof, the sample. Oxford Dictionary of Sociology pg 576.
So basically a proportion of the population is selected to represent the rest the whole of the population. For my study it is important to select a sample with a range of backgrounds, although of similar age and the same sex. This would enable me to find out the factors that effect young girls and if they differ between backgrounds. There are eight different types of sampling, these are; Random: where everyone has the same chance of being selected, therefore it is representative. His method of sampling would not be suitable for me because I have selected an age criteria of 16-18 years old. Systematic: where names are selected at regular intervals on a list, this gives a greater selection of age and background.
His method of sampling would not be suitable for me because I have selected an age criteria of 16-18 years old, unless the list was specific to that criteria in the first place. Stratified Random Sample: Important variables are found, e.g. in my research age and sex would be two important variables, the sampling group is then allocated to the important variables. This would be a very suitable method of sampling for my study beaus of the importance of the variables. Quota Sample: This identifies samples with particular characteristics e.g. age and gender, this would also be a good method of sampling for my research as it would enable me to work with a set criteria list right from the start.
Cluster or Multistage sampling: These are drawn from selections of the target group, samples from an already drawn sample, these are often unrepresentative. This could be useful, for extensive research, if interesting results are found I could go back and look further into the case. Snowballing: a relative sample is built upon using personal contacts. Convenience or Opportunity Sampling: This method enables the sociologist to select anyone who will answer the question, making the sample unrepresentative and biased.
Non-Representative: This method may be useful for disproving a hypothesis, and is the final sector of the sampling process. I will produce a questionnaire as my base, this will produce numerical data for me to analyse and a base where I can look further into individual cases. These methods of research, enable the research to continue, from a group, to individual case studies, to observation, of a case study, to an in depth analysis of an individual. This is what I want, for my study to remain open ended an subject to further analysis. I will select the sample using stratified random sampling and from this sample I will select 50 girls at regular intervals systematically from the school registers.
This way my sample will be representative. I am aware of the limitations involved in distributing my questionnaire, such as, not being able to distribute it to people outside my immediate community, i.e. people outside, those who I know and the school community. This way I think is the most ethical and effective in receiving a fair amount of returns. In this chapter I have managed to discus the advantages of methods of research and so have decided which methods are suitable for my study. I will now collect my primary research using these methods of study and discuss the results and conclusions. Context Gemma Sanders The media are massively present in our lives and it is this that gives them their cultural effect, they feed into our world views and our culture, and help to shape them page 396, Media Imagery and Representations, Chapter Two, New Directions.
So the media is constantly feeding us images which have the power to produce social effects in young women, this is true, irrespective of whether they are negative or positive images or messages. However my hypotheses states that I these effects are negative in society. Emile Durkheim used the term representation to include; drawings, symbols, written and spoken. Basically our conceptions of images is what causes that symbol and that word to become a representation.
Durkheim believed that essentially social life is made up of representations and they constrain our thoughts and behaviour. (Durkheim 1952, page 40). He believed that the representations that exist come from the media and see the media as being one of the most influential sources. I would tend not to use the study of Durkheim in this instance relating to my hypothesis because he thought that these representations were seen by everyone in the same way. Although in my study am suggesting that there are huge effects I also believe that other factors are involved such as background etc, as I believe that this can determine the way images are represented. If this were true then there would be many more cases of negative effects in young women than there are.
I believe that the negative social effects come not from the integration that Durkheim believes exists, where everyone reads the images the same. I believe that the negative social effects come from the social conflict that these representations can provide. For example the stereotype pg 3 of the Sun newspaper is regarded as harmless fun, which may in the majority of cases be true but that one image has many different perceptions from a variety of different people. Stereotypes are representations which are often false or misleading. Stereotypes exist within ideologies. Stereotypes are used by the media and the media is plays a lag re part in creating an ideology within our society.
In our society people desire to follow this ideology and look to the media for guidelines. However when issuing reason and blame for the negative social effects caused by these ideologies an important question must be asked, does society make ideologies or do ideologies make society As in Marxism, society controls the individual. In this section of my project, I will discuss to what extent do these media images have an effect and I will incorporate some sociologists work about this. I will look at Feminist arguments, as well as a presentation of other secondary data.
When attempting to find research studies into this area, I found that a lot were out of date, perhaps because with the developments in technology, i.e. television and the internet the media has only recently had such a widespread effect and such power. A very influential part of the media is advertising as it is solely designed to influence us, and has the capability to shape our attitudes and behaviour. In 1985 4441 million was spent on advertising so the messages portrayed in these advertisements are obviously very important to the advertiser. It is more about selling a way of life in which this product becomes a necessity than simply getting people to buy the product. Already it is possible to see that advertising can change the way of life for people and as stated in my hypothesis this could be negative. The research of Courtney and Whipple, 1983 p 45, supports my hypothesis they concluded after looking at images in the media and their societal effect that, when limited and demeaning stereotypes are as persuasive as those involved in advertising portrayal of the sexes, it becomes important to question whether those stereotypes might result in negative and undesirable social consequences.
Feminist strands generally believe that the media is partly responsible for creating images, stereotypes and expectations for women. In London in 1969, feminists were beginning to take note of the anti-woman or women-as-object advertisements that surrounded them. Shelia Rowbotham, The Past is Before Us, 1989 p 248 stated that, All around us in adverts, the cinema, and television were images of a distorted man made femininity. This quote supports my hypothesis because it recognises that these images are not real and that women have a very hard time trying to live up to them.
Not only are the images hard to live upto but they ave also been accused of trivializing women, ignoring real issues that women face and placing them literally on face value. Therefore it made it very hard for an intelligent woman to gain her rightful place in society unless she resembled portrayed images. Women in Mass Communication, p 281, complained about the trivial portrayal of womens issues and the oppressive place women held in advertisements, they noted; unflattering portrayals and the trivialization of feminists political interests. This is most certainly a negative social effect as it is contributing to the position of women in society. The three strands of feminism have slightly varying views on the media and its representation of women. Liberal feminists that the socialisation is the main cause for misrepresentation of women in society.
The believe that we are presented with sex roles which have become embedded in our culture. So the medias representation of women simply reflects these already embedded images and messages. Liberal feminists do not believe that the media plays no part but that it is not wholly responsible however it should present a more balanced and accurate picture of women. Radical feminists also believe that the images are already apparent in society through patriarchy.
They believe that men use the media to manipulate women. They believe that issues which that effects women are left out of the media or become trivialized, similar to the liberal feminists response. Socialist feminists blame the economic structure of capitalism for the medias portrayal of women. They argue that women are expected to give their labour cheaply and serve as the reserve army of workers.
The power of the companies which own womens magazines is concentrated in male hands. The function of womens magazines is presented as being pastoral, giving them solutions to their problems and promoting a code on how to be a woman, ensuring that the woman will try to fulfil these codes. Body image is just another one of these codes and is detrimental in he self esteem of women. Aside from this is the expectation that a woman should be able to cope with a full time job and be the main career for children. Hence all this has a massive effect on society, women of course make up 50% of the population and whilst women are going around trying to live up to these images and messages, society as a whole suffers because confidence levels are on a downward spiral and women spend their whole lives trying to be this, that and the other.
The pluralist model is a very interesting model to look at in relation to the media. Pluralists argue that the media is a means for voicing and responding to womens needs and interests. They state that advertisements now act as a way of increasing the audiences awareness of womens issues. This would go against my hypothesis however it does raise interesting issues in that pluralists would say that these advertisements are beneficial for women in society. The pluralist view of the media is a popular image where the media provides unrestricted public airing.
However the public demand and so perhaps the media is simply responding to the demand, so the media are a reflection of what the public are doing. It is a very complicated debate in terms of the media being issued the blame for the social effects that are happening when in fact it may be a viscous circle. Relating to my hypothesis it completely disregards it, and alternative reasons for he the social issues would need to be looked at. A valid psychological study that I will use in my primary research is that of Fallon and Rozin 1985. It looks at body images, I will conduct the study and then find a relationship between it and the media. Body images of male and female undergraduates were shown a figure of their own sex and asked to indicate, a) the figure that looked most like their current shape, b) the figure that looked most like their ideal body shape and c) the figure that they thought was most attractive to the opposite sex.
Fallon and Rozin found that although mens abc options would all point to the same figure. Womens choices pointed to all different body shapes. Showing that women are not comfortable with their body image and I believe there is a direct correlation to that and the media. Erving Goffman 1979 studied advertising campaigns of the 1970's, he found that the representation of women in advertisements had a very big part to play in the expectations that women, should refrain from vying with men in matters mechanical, financial, political and so forth.
This, directly relating to my hypothesis in the stereotypes of women is often blatantly sexist, making women feel inadequate and causing negative social effects. Basically if women are made to feel that there are certain things they cant do simply because of their genetic make up then women will have a very hard time being equal in society, the media simply perpetuates this. Many research studies especially the more recent ones have been looking at the representation of women and what the effects of these are. The general findings are discovered through looking at womens magazines. Although they seem to revolve around womens interests they reinforce glamorous enhanced images of women whilst still portraying a women with a role whether it be a traditional housewife role or a career, setting almost impossible standards for any regular women to compete. By doing this women strive to be and act and look a certain way, a way which is portrayed by these media images to be achievable and when the standard is not achievable the women feel like they have failed, causing a strong negative social effect.
One of the main theories used by sociologists to investigate the media and its effects, is the hypodermic syringe model also known as the effects model. The effects model was derived from the rise of behaviorism in psychology in the early years of this century which sees all human action as modelled on the condition of reflex so that ones personality consisted of nothing more than responses to stimuli in its environment. Sociology New Directions pg 373. This model suggests an injection of products, images, stereotypes and attitudes is injected into society through individuals and that an effect of this injection is absolutely certain.
The Payne Fund, a body set up in New York in 1928 looked at the relationship between film watching and the attitudes of juvenile crime, they used the effects model as their base for research because it demonstrated the relationship well. Showing and provoking that by the injection of films in to juveniles, as a direct effects of this there was a link with crime. Paul Lazars feld recognises that there are other factors are involved, such as friends and social groups. Within my research, this model is applicable by looking at the injection of the media images of women and the direct effect possibly being eating disorders unsatisfaction with themselves etc.
However one of the problems with this model is the total disregard it shows for peoples conscious efforts to make decisions of their own, giving a very narrow view of the audience. Within my hypothesis I have allowed for this by choosing a particularly vulnerable group in society whoa re more susceptible to media images-young women. But in fairness it should be noted that or everyone in society has the same level of susceptibility Jean Baudrillard, a post modernist believed that the media massively effects society, he believed that the mass media increasingly defines what the world in which we live actually is. Supporting my hypothesis in simply the fact that he recognises the huge effect the media is capable of having.
Golding p 78) says, The media are central in the provision of ideas and images which people use to interpret and understand a great deal of their everyday experience. This shows also how critical the portrayal in the media is in causing effects, when the media begins to represent out of the ordinary situations as everyday they then change the whole nature of our living and the way we think and what we believe is normal and everyday. For Marxists, the media is a fundamental instrument of control, owned by the dominant class, who control what is portrayed within it. So perhaps it is another case where the powerful gain even more power by causing these negative effects through the media. Meaning that the young women on the end of these images have no choice but to follow them as they are being controlled to do so. Marxists also take the view that the media is among those institutions which reproduce social domination and control under the base of the bourgeois capitalist society.
From my research I can conclude that the majority of studies that I have looked at accept that womens self worth, opinions and place in society are partly moulded by their portrayal in the media. This will of course play a massive part in the subordination of women which is a negative social effect, supporting my hypothesis. There are no longer outright sexist advertisements but the simple fact that women are represented in a totally different image to men shows that sexism exists and causes negative social effects. My next step is to conduct some primary research of my own to discover if the media does effects peoples self worth, and exactly what the negative social effects are. Questionnaire Deconstruction Title: The Media Portrayal of Women 1) How old are you A self explanatory question.
Used for grouping data into ages so that in my evaluation I can analyse differences between ages and see at what age the media starts to effect and if we realise it is effecting us at later stages. The most likely question to follow would be, are you male or female but my studies concentrate solely on female attitudes. However if I were to extend my research this would certainly be a topic to look into. I do appreciate and take into consideration however that male attitudes do play a large part in the attitudes of females and that they are a contributory factor as well as the media to negative social effects about body image. 2) Which media are you most likely to read / listen to I have chosen three options; a) television as many images are portrayed on television through advertising, TV programmes, the news etc. These images are particularly powerful because they are moving images which can give them the realistic edge over other media.
B) Magazines, teenage girls absorb lot of information from magazines, images of older girls are often featured in these magazines and regular information on how to look like them or for example how to create that perfect Jennifer Anniston look. Due to magazines being such a source of interest and information to young girls I believe it is important to look at the messages they are portraying. C) Radio, radio is a very important source of information but I wanted to discover how many teenage girls listen to the radio. The radio has a large advantage in that it plays music which is a massive interest to youth.
The radio is also a very interesting media as it has no visual aids but can it still create images 3) Do you think that the media attempts to portray a perfect image of a women I think that it is important to discover if teenage girls are aware that the media image is a pretence or if they believe that when they grow up that is what they should aspire to look like. The word attempt in this question is very important as I am not suggesting that the is the perfect image but simply that an attempt is being made. It will also show if in the eyes of teenagers they do consider these media images to be perfect. 4) Would you like to like the women in these images This question is important in identifying the difference between simply seeing an image and actually taking it and storing it in their minds as an image that they would like to look like.
And perhaps an image that they think they should look like. 5) Do you think that celebrities have too much attention on them through the media The main focus of the media is celebrities... This question will invite respondents to say yes they think the media is intrusive upon celebrities and it does cause negative effects or No the media focuses the right amount of attention on celebrities and this does not pose a problem to me or to society as a whole. 6) Have you ever known anyone to suffer from an eating disorder Statistics show that eating disorders are becoming increasingly common. It will be interesting and beneficial to compare the answers against the statistics and between the different age groups. It will also show whether teenage girls are always aware that their friends are suffering from eating disorders by comparing the answers to statistics.
Or perhaps if they are even aware of what an eating disorder is. 7) Do you think that these images contribute to eating disorders The question is probing whether teenage girls actually believe that there is a link between media images and disorders. Or indeed whether the worry of eating disorders is another media hype. If they answer yes then it will demonstrate that the media is leading to negative social effects.
8) Do you think that these images contribute to low self esteem This question is similar to question 8 but far less extreme because although they themselves would not go to the extremities of eating disorders so that is difficult to understand they may recall bad feelings about their body and their looks in comparison to celebrities and these images. 9) Do you think that males are subjected to similar images and pressures through the media This is a widely debated question as the increase for those who suffer from male eating disorders is rising but it will be interesting to look at how women feel that media pressures are distributed. 10) Do you have any further comments about the portrayal of women in the media Valid comments are useful for a deeper understanding of the subject. They will also help me with the evaluation because if the same comments crop up consistently then it will show me that there should have been a designated question for that issue. Comments From Questionnaire Question 10 in my questionnaire asked if their were any further comments about the portrayal of women in the media these were the results of that question. I found that many thought that the pressure on men is not as much as that on women but that it definitely exists however it is not based on such a physical sense and is not portrayed highly through the media.
There pressure on men lies more on their personality, it is important to be funny, to have a good car, to be good at sport etc. Another strong comment that came out was that too much attention is paid to celebrities bodies and not enough to their personalities and this is what causes negative social effects. They are successful and they have good bodies that is all we see of them, therefore in order for us to be successful we must have nice bodies. There was a definite vibe through the comments that the medias portrayal of women needs to change, they need to start representing real women. Womens true achievements are not focused on enough either. Apparently womens sport is not highly covered and when it is it concentrates on people such as Anna Kornakova, who is glamorous but a far less talented tennis player than say Venus Williams.
Some believe that almost as if the pressure begins to ease off women it is focusing on men. These comments are very valid because they give me a deeper understanding of the way people actually feel, reinforcing that the problems with images of women is not just another media hype, which in itself would be very controversial. Content In the context section I looked at Erving Goffmans study of Gender and Advertising and his coding categories, in order to prove that his research is still evident today I carried out my own research by finding advertisements which fit into his categories. I was a selection of magazines from Sunday supplement magazines. I chose this because these magazines do not have such a specific target audience as specialised womens magazines, so I am not limiting my findings. Relative Size (Appendix ) This Advertisement for Danni mac shows men leading the way, sheltering and protecting women from the weather.
This advert is not explicitly sexist but it does have connotations of sexism and agrees with Goffmans theory of relative size. The Feminine Touch (Appendix) This advertisement for Orange E-Mail services supports Goffmans theory that womens hands are often pictured in advertisements. The Orange logo is in the centre of the womans hand, showing that she is nurturing it and protecting it, exactly as Goffman suggested. Function Ranking (Appendix ) Goffman discussed advertisements that belittle women by showing them being instructed by men.
In my Context I made the observation that since Goffmans study this has actually turned full circle and an advert will generate a lot more interest if the roles are reversed. Obviously the reason for there being more interest is because the roles within society are still not totally reversed. However the advert pictured here certainly does reverse the roles. These men are pictured in a skip, typically a mans job with a washing machine in front of them, this suggests that the woman has instructed them to do the washing, explaining the blank and confused look on their faces. The Family (Appendix ) This advertisement shows the mother and baby, a very stereotypical image displayed throughout the media. The woman is looking perfect and the baby looking happy.
This is the kind of advert that I believe generates negative social effects because of the image that when you have a baby you should be able to still look your best and keep baby content. Goffmans study 100% supports that this advertisement exists and that the effects of it are only negative to society. It is a stereotypical image which does not exist, yet the media portray it as the norm putting women under tremendous pressure. The Ritual of Subordination (Appendix ) This advertisement, reinforces Goffmans claim that adverts exploit womens sexuality to sell a product. The amount of skin and the lingerie shown in this advertisement certainly show hat sex sells. The product is a muscle toning product, so it could be argued that it is necessary to show the midriff of the woman.
Licensed Withdrawal (Appendix ) Goffman talked about how women are often pictured as being disconnected from a situation and become excited about menial things, in turn making them and their lives seem very insignificant on a larger scale. This advertisement shows the woman with a dreamy expression on her face, there is nothing real or powerful about this image, it simply reinforces the insignificance of a woman in the medias eyes. These categories outlined by Goffman are still relevant today and these recent advertisements only go towards proving this. These advertisements were found amongst only three magazines showing that there is a significant amount of derogatory messages in advertising. Advertising is a large part of the media and often considered the mist powerful because of the messages it conveys.
There was one area of improvement which I found in Function Ranking however the message is only so strong because it is so controversial which takes away from the whole point of presenting women in a different light. Evaluation will evaluate my research chapter by chapter. My rationale states my hypothesis, The portrayal of women in the media causes negative social effects in young women. Starting with analysing my hypothesis, in retrospect I believe that my hypothesis is too wide. The media is such a vast area, and such a powerful tool that its effects are widespread. I should have narrowed my hypothesis to a specific negative social effect, i.e. eating disorders, suicide, sexism etc.
Also I could have looked at a specific media for example the television. As I feel my research was too generalised. However I think that I made a good decision in concentrating on young women but I do feel that at points my research strayed off this subject. Although in my rationale I did establish that I planned to do this I think my rationale should have been worded more specifically.
It was however a good choice to look at the media because it is a growing tool, with the internet fast approaching and all its dangers to society. I could have looked further into the internet because concerns about it are growing rapidly. Questions which I asked in my rationale, were; Does the media help to cause eating disorders and Is there something inside the young women that triggers the effects and is stronger in some girls hence the effects is more serious I think that I answered these questions well using Fallon and Rozins, survey about body shape and image. This looked at the actual perceptions young women have about themselves. My aims were to prove or disprove my hypothesis, I believe that I strongly proved my hypothesis but also presented a balanced view by using different research studies. I did find that the research in to disprove my hypothesis was very limited because if people dont believe that the media has an affect then they are unlikely to conduct research on it.
I have compared my findings with sociological research, this is best shown when using Fallon and Rozins study to conduct my own primary research. I produced reliable data as it was easily quantifiable and could be put into grass and analysed effectively. My questionnaire produced some excellent data but the questions were not as objective as they possibly could have, possible because my aim was to prove my hypothesis. In question two of my questionnaire the internet should be mentioned as well as newspapers and friends because of its rapid growth as a media source. Question seven should have been asked after question eight because if they had said yes to the first then they are compelled to say yes to the second as the effect is worse. Retrospectively question nine was badly worded because it assumes that they believe there is a problem in the pressures of the media and there is no option for them to say they believe there is no problem.
Although this was a small minority of people, I did not give the option, again because my aim was to prove my hypothesis. Question nine also does not give the option for people to say that the medias effect does not apply to women at all and only effects men. Conclusively the questionnaire assumes too much. The comments gained from question ten support my hypothesis, however those who did not have anything to say may not say anything because they dont see it as an issue, therefore I would only get comments which support my hypothesis.
I should have looked at mens views more and perhaps opened up the questionnaire to men. If I had the chance to further my research study I would include this. My body image survey produced some valid and reliable data, Distortions in body image survey however there are of course some improvements in retrospect that I could have made. I could have compared height / weight against average and healthy to see if they were actually overweight even though they were saying that they were. I could have used a selection of 5 body shapes rather than 3 because although people didnt always think that they had the figure of option 2 they werent prepared to say so chose option three whereas they may have gone for something in between. It is important to recognise that people werent always honest with me because there is an image that it is wrong to think that you are the perfect size, in order not to sound egotistical.
Using Goffmans study I analysed some advertisements of my own to test his theory. I found that he was right. I also found that although we can look at the negative social effects of these advertisements it cannot be assumed that everyone deconstructs them in this way, perhaps this is why they are so dangerous, but it is important to remember that the purpose is to sell products and this is overwhelmingly achieved. I can see that my own values, pre-conceptions and ideas played a part in my research but I think that to passionately want to discover the results you need to have values to a certain extent.
If I had no pre-conceptions then choosing questions to ask in a questionnaire would be very difficult and would make the results hard to analyse. I have a friend who became very ill and suffered with anorexia, after being with her throughout this, I am convinced that the media had a big part to play in her illness, this has given me values of my own and therefore made me less objective to people who thought that people who suffered from illnesses were simply unstable than I perhaps should have been. Time was a great limitation when conducting my research. My subjects were easily available girls at school, my school has a good reputation for results meaning that they are all generally intelligent enough to be able to deconstruct the media and understand its effects, so my research was not particularly widespread across young women. Overall my evidence supports my hypothesis, I have found out that people have distorted images of themselves and concluded that part of this is because of the media. I have also discovered that young women are generally critical of the way others look and that this plays a big part in perceptions and self esteem.
Through my findings I believe that there should be tougher regulations within the media. The problem is money, mind game adverts and images of beautiful women sell products, the government gain money from these products so social policy would be very hard to implement in the media. The Internet will soon pose a real problem because it is so hard to monitor that even if a social policy were implanted, advertisers would still get their message across and girls would still be left feeling inadequate. I have learnt a lot about the research process as a whole. I have learnt that objectivity is fairly impossible and that in research some subjectivity is necessary.
I have leant the process of triangulation is important because it is difficult to conduct research which is either valid or reliable, and quantitative methods are equally as important as qualitative methods. I have also learnt that with the best of intentions, changes do need to be made from the original rationale and that these changes are significant and it does not make your research invalid, if anything it opens up your knowledge and understanding. Theories from other sociologists give you a good grounding to research and play an important part in giving you ideas and methods. 337.