Assess the Usefulness of Official Statistics sample essay
Numerous research experts have suggested that statistics may be more or less useful depending on how concrete the evidence may be. They say there are mainly two types of statistics, hard or soft. Hard statistics would be largely representative evidence with standardised reliable facts, whilst soft statistics is evidence which may not be largely representative or hold standardised reliable facts, soft statistics are open to debate and conspiracy theories. Official statistics are data which has been already collected by government for example marriages, births, crimes and deaths.
Many experts suggest there is much strength within official statistics, firstly they are easy and cheap and largely representative. Experts suggest official statistics are easy to generalise to similar populations, resulting in more reliable data, if results are concordant. Many experts argue that official statistics are a great way of producing trends which can be seen over a number of years, for example whether or not life expectancy is improving or number of deaths due to certain illnesses. Numerous positivist sociologists look up to official statistics as they argue it’s a series of ‘concrete’ reliable facts, as they have been collected in a scientific and standardised fashion, for example registration of births or number of marriages. Many sociologists believe official statistics are really a really useful tool to round up all the facts about the society we live in.
On the other hand, many experts argue official statistics are weak as they are open to political abuse, they are not all detailed or they are written in a way to give a positive impression. Experts suggest government may massage official statistics to their political advantage, governments must publish all important official statistics, but they don’t have to do it on the front page of a newspaper article, they may just place the bad statistics at the back of some hidden page on a day where a catastrophe may have happened. Many interpretivist’s argue that official statistics give very poor information upon the stories or interpretations of the people they are writing about, for example they may not tell us how it feels like to be going out knowing that you’re going to die of cancer in 2 days’ time and there is nothing you can do but watch the clock tick.
Many experts argue that official statistics suffer from unreported dark figures which are known as an ‘Iceberg’ that researchers may have missed for example, in illnesses; they may have missed the number of people who did not go to the doctors although they were ill, all they hold is the tip of the iceberg, everything in the water is unknown. Many sociologists argue that official statistics are socially constructed, which means they get to pick and choose what statistics they wish to record and collect, for these reasons official statistics are not giving us the full picture, which damages its usefulness and so they shouldn’t be blindly supported.
In conclusion, it is clear to say that many sociologists would argue that there are some useful factors about official statistics, however there are still many who would oppose official statistics due to its over objectivity and lack of subjective data. Sociologists argue official statistics are easy and cheap to access, but they are open to political abuse. There is clearly some usefulness within official statistics, but a lot of weaknesses alongside it. Many experts argue official statistics are useful, but it should not be used alone, it should be partnered with some detailed subjective views.
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