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Validity in sociology

Validity is based with the degree of achieving the intended result. A result is valid if it achieves what it was supposed to achieve. Validity determines the success of a study or research. Validity is measured in terms of desired output or goal. When such a goal is not fixed there are problems in ascertaining the validity of  a result. According to Alan Bryman, there are four types of validity-

  • Internal validity – It affirms the causal relationship
  • External validity- it pertains to generalized aspect and the degree to which the results apply to a larger population.
  • Measurement validity or construct validity- It is concerned with the fact that whether the measure which is being employed actually measures what it claims.
  • Ecological validity- It refers to the fact that how closely a research study mirrors the natural settings of people’s real experiences. A valid research has to be as natural in its settings as it can.

Factors influencing validity

  • History, as the time passes, variables also take different values.
  • Instrumentation refers to the effect caused by changes in measuring instrument or method during the research.
  • Selection bias occurs when the test units are selected in such a way that they are not representative of the population.

In most sociological investigations, validity is not clear. While positivists may argue that validity is possible in sociology by the use of scientific methods, interpretivist deny such possibility, as human consciousness cannot be captured using any method. According to Interpretivist, most of the sociologists tend to ignore the problem of validity by spending time accumulating more data and devising more sophisticated theories to claim valid outcomes. Some sociology researchers have suggested that sociological research should be judged on the basis of some different criteria. 

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