Official statistics are used by sociologists because of their many advantages.
Official statistics are usually readily available and relatively inexpensive, so sociologists can spend more time and money analysing data than collecting it.
An example of a non-sociological approach would be to state that all Muslims are terrorists.
Instead they believe they consist of information which is systematically distorted by the powerful institutions in society. America spends approximately billion dollars a year on the criminal justice system, up from 12 billion in This means that they only reflect crimes known to the police. The UK National Census is a good example of this.
Conflict theories such as marxist and feminist theory, argue that official statistics are neither hard facts or subjective meanings. Subscribe to email updates from the tutor2u Sociology Join s of fellow Sociology teachers and students all getting the tutor2u Sociology team's latest resources and support delivered fresh in their inbox every morning.
Subscribe Thanks. Also, official statistics enable sociologists to make comparisons over time and between different parts of the country and between different types of area, e. In summary, as Hindess has suggested, official statistics are often treated in a positivist manner, as if they provide cast iron factual data about crime.
Similarly, official statistics reflect the biases and prejudices of those in power — The fact that African-Caribbeans and Muslims are over represented in prison suggests people from these groups have higher levels of criminality.
Although the statistics are not complete distortions, they are manipulated through the definitions and procedures used to collect the data, so that they tend to favour the interests of the rich and powerful. Another factor which must be considered when interpreting official statistics is that because official statistics are usually produced by the government, they may be politically biased, for example to show that their policies are having the predicted effect.