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November 30, 2014 / C H Thompson


There a several stages the sociologist has to complete when designing a questionnaire, one being the clarification of operationalisationkey concepts (e.g social-class) used in the research so concepts can be measured.

Researchers need to know what makes something what it is particularly how they would recognize it something if they saw it in the responses or through the questions they ask.

Operationalisation is better understood with an example. Imagine the research question is: Does social-class affect attainment at school?

In order to collect data a researcher would need to operationalise the term ‘social-class’ in order to know what questions to ask. For example, a child wearing a scruffy uniform could be sign of poverty, while a child wearing a smart uniform could be a sign of wealth. A researcher would have to establish such a criteria before gathering their data.

The image below shows how a recent a Guardian survey about old age got each respondent to define what they perceived old-age to be and so were operationalising the concept of old-age so it could be measured.



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