Human Organization Research: Field Relations and Techniques

By Richard N. Adams; Jack J. Preiss | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XVI
THE VALIDITY OF FIELD DATA*1

Arthur Vidich and Joseph Bensman


INTRODUCTION

SCATTERED through the professional journals in fields commonly included in the social sciences -- sociology, anthropology, social psychology, personality, public opinion -- there is found an increasing concern with the reliability and validity of information secured for social science analysis. Much of this interest stems from or was stimulated by the now classical Social Science Research Council Bulletins on the use of personal document2 or by work being done simultaneously in England3

In recent years all manner of instruments and techniques -- ranging from participant observatio4 and psychological test5 to public opinion and census-type survey6 -- and the quality of the data they yield have been placed under critical scrutiny. Depending on the interests and immediate concerns of the observers, emphasis has been placed primarily on distortions in data due to the interviewer7 the interviewer-respondent

____________________
*
Human Organization, Vol. 13, No. 1 ( 1954), pp. 20-27.
1
This work was conducted under the sponsorship of the Department of Child Development and Family Relationships in the New York State College of Home Economics at Cornell University. It is part of a larger project entitled Cornell Studies in Social Growth and represents an outgrowth of a study in the determinants of constructive social behavior in the person, the family, and the community. The research program is supported in part by grants from the National Institute of Mental Health, United States Public Health Service, and the Committee on the Early Identification of Talent of the Social Science Research Council, with the aid of funds granted to the council by the John and Mary R. Markle Foundation.
2
F. Allport ( 1942) and Louis Gottschalk, Clyde Kluckhohn, and Robert Angell ( 1945). These works, in turn, were a direct outgrowth of Blumer's critique of Thomas and Znaniecki The Polish Peasant.
3
Fredrick C. Bartlett, M. Ginsberg, E. J. Lindgren, and R. H. Thouless ( 1939) and S. M. Harvey ( 1938).
4
Florence Kluckhohn ( 1940).
5
Ivan N. Mensh and Jules Henry ( 1953).
6
Herbert Hyman ( 1950) and W. P. Mauldin and E. S. Marks ( 1950).
7
S. Shapiro and J. Eberhart ( 1947).

-188-

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