By using an unstructured interview it is difficult to generalise as it is a small sample, and in my case only one persons opinion. This also makes it harder to analyse or make any generalisation that all girls feel the same way as the respondent does. There could also be interviewer bias which is quite a big disadvantage. I could in some way influence or direct the answers given by the interviewee, therefore the respondent may change their answer according to the type of question given. But if I am careful with how I phrase and say my questions, I should be able to avoid any interviewer bias.
My third research method is structured interviews. The advantage of structured interviews is that they allow the exploration of specific topics, while allowing people to tell the interviewer what they think is important. I am going to video- tape the opinions of five teenage girls on dieting and the media. I aim to find out if they feel pressured at all by the media to be slim and how far they have taken dieting in order to achieve this media image of “the perfect female body”. I think it will be interesting to see how their answers compare and differ by asking the same questions to five different girls.
Structured interviews give the respondent the chance to speak for themselves about the topic and the chance to clarify complex questions. However success depends on the skill of the interviewer, but I will spend time making sure that the questions I ask will be beneficial to my project. Another disadvantage is that I may give out unconscious signals to the respondent which may lead them to change their reply. Another problem is that I might only follow up my areas of interest there fore restricting the respondents answers. These interviews can also be very time consuming, so I have only decided to interview five people for my study.
There are some types of primary research which I have decided not to use. Methods such as longitudinal studies and participant observation would require a great amount of time which I would like to have, but have not got enough time to carry out properly. A longitudinal study is an ideal way of understanding social life at one point in time, but in order to understand social life in the present it is essential to see it as a development from the past. This method requires a picture of social life over a long time which is not possible for me to do.
With participant observation the number of people observed is small therefore generalisations are not possible. This method would not be very useful to my project either, as it would be hard to observe people’s eating habits without asking personal questions about weight etc and many people would find covert observation for my topic unethical. A case study could be a good source of primary data for me to use as they can give a more detailed picture than research based on large samples. However, as they are seen as one off examples they cannot be seen as representative. They are also quite time consuming. I am confident that my chosen research methods will provide me with some valuable information from which I can analyse and draw a conclusion from.