Sociological research
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Sociological Research. How does social research add to our knowledge of human societies? What is the relationship between theory & research? What are the main steps in the sociological research process? Why is it important to have different research methods?. Sociologists try to understand

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Sociological Research

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Sociological Research

How does social research add to our knowledge of human societies?

What is the relationship between theory & research?

What are the main steps in the sociological research process?

Why is it important to have different research methods?


  • Sociologists try to understand

    social behaviour

  • Sociologists obtain their knowledge of human behaviour through research

Why is Soc Research necessary?


  • The sociological perspective

    incorporates theory and research

    to arrive at

    a more informed understanding

    of the “hows” and “whys”

    of human social interaction.


  • There are several ways of knowing the world:

    • Personal Experience

    • Tradition

    • Authority

    • Religion

    • Science

  • All are valid sources of understanding.

5 Ways of Knowing the World


  • We have discovered for ourselves many of the things we know

    • If we put our tongue on a frozen doorknob, we learn that removing it can be very painful

Personal Experience


  • People hold firmly to a belief because “everyone knows” it to be true

    • Tradition tells us that something is correct because it has always been done that way

    • We accept what has always

      been believed rather than

      finding out the answers

      by ourselves

Tradition


  • Experts tell us that something is true

    • We do not need to go to the moon to discover its mineral composition, but instead accept the judgment of space scientists.

    • In practice, much of what we know about medicine, crime, and many other phenomena is based on what authorities have told us

Authority


  • A specific type of authority is

    religious authority

    • We accept the truths that our particular scriptures and religious officials advocate

    • Factors as diverse as morality, diet,

    • dress, and hair styles are based on

    • religious authority

Religion


  • The scientific way of knowing involves controlled, systematic observation

    • Scientists insist that all statements be tested and that testing procedures be open to public inspection

Scientific Knowledge


  • Empirical Approach

    • Its findings are based on the assumption that knowledge is best gained by direct, systematic observation

  • Normative Approach

    • Uses religion, tradition, or authority to answer important questions

    • Based on beliefs about what is right & wrong, and what is desirable in a society

Approaches to Research


  • Empirical approach

  • Systematic & public

  • Self-correction, re-evaluation

  • Objectivity is valued

    • Methods, processes are transparent

Scientific Research


  • Article abstract includes details of a study, observation, or analysis of a # of subjects

  • Article is fairly lengthy (5-30+ pages)

  • Article contains subsections marked:

    • Methodology, Research Methods, or Methods

    • Results, or Findings

How to recognize an Empirical Article?


  • Sociologists tend to use 2 types of empirical studies:

    • Descriptive

      • Attempt to describe social reality or provide facts about some group, practice, or event

        • i.e. The Canadian Census

  • Explanatory

    • Attempt to explain relationships and to provide information on why certain events do or do not occur

  • Sociological Research


    • Theory

      • a set of logically interrelated statements that attempts to describe, explain, and (occasionally) predict social events

      • Attempts to explain why something is the way it is

    Theory & Research Cycle


    • T&R Cycle consists of 2 approaches:

      • The deductive approach

        • Begin with a theory & use research to test the theory

    • The inductive approach

      • Collect information or data & then generate theories from the analysis of that data

    Theory & Research Cycle


    • Ben Goldacre

    • http://www.ted.com/talks/ben_goldacre_battling_bad_science.html

    Battling Bad Science


    • PankajGhemawat: Actually, the world isn't flat

      • http://www.ted.com/talks/pankaj_ghemawat_actually_the_world_isn_t_flat.html

    • TaliSharot: The optimism bias

      • http://www.ted.com/talks/tali_sharot_the_optimism_bias.html


    • Theory & Research form a continuous cycle that encompasses both deductive and inductive approaches

    Theory & Research Cycle


    • The researcher begins with a theory & then collects & analyzes research to test it

    1

    2

    4

    The Deductive Approach

    3


    • The researcher collects & analyzes data & then generates a theory based on that analysis

    3

    2

    4

    The Inductive Approach

    1


    • 2 Dominant Theories on Research:

      • Quantitative

      • Qualitative

    The Sociological Research Process


    • Quantitative Research

      • The goal is scientific objectivity

      • Focuses on data that can be measured numerically

    • Qualitative Research

      • Interpretive description (words) are used rather than statistics (numbers) to analyze meanings and patterns of social relationships

    The Sociological Research Process


    Uses numerical data to measure the results of the study.

    • Select and define the research problem.

    • Review previous research.

    • Formulate the hypothesis.

    • Develop the research design.

    • Collect & Analyze the data.

    • Draw Conclusions & Report the Findings.

    Quantitative


    Uses observation, interviews, reflections, field notes, etc.

    • Problem formation: general approach.

    • Collect and analyze data to assess the Validity OF the starting position: refining concepts.

    • Detailed view of the topic: smaller number of cases and many variables.

    Qualitative


    • Hypothesis

    • Concept

    • Variable

      • Dependent vs Independent variable

    • Operational definition

    • Reliability

    • Validity

    • Analysis

    • Replication

    Research Terminology


    • Theory Helps Interpretation of Data

    • Theory Generates Questions for Research

    • Research Helps Generate Theory

    How Theory & Research Work Together


    • Quantitative Research Methods

      • Emphasis on Precise Measurement

      • Uses Statistics and Numbers

    • Qualitative Research Methods

      • Emphasis on Observing, Describing, and Interpreting Behavior

    Q V. Q


    • Experiments

    • Surveys

    • Secondary Analysis of Existing Data

    • Field Research

      Review the chart of page 60 of the text.

    Research Methods


    • A carefully designed situation in which the researcher studies the impact of certain variables on subjects’ attitudes or behaviour

    Experiments


    • Designed to create real-life situations

    • ideally under controlled circumstances

    • the influence of different variables can be modified & measured

    Experiments


    • Experimental Group

      • Subjects are exposed to an independent variable

  • Control Group

    • Subjects are not exposed to the independent V.

  • Conventional Experiments require that subjects be divided into these 2 group

  • Key Terms


    • Independent Variables

      • Presumed to cause or determine a dependent V.

        • Age, sex, race, ethnicity

  • Dependent Variables

    • Assumed to depend on or be caused by the indp V.

      • The outcome/effect

  • Key Terms


    • Hypothesis: women are more likely to be altruistic than men

      • Independent variable:

        • gender

    • Dependent variable:

      • Degree of altruism

    Example:


    • The context of the study determines whether a variable is Dep. Or Indp.

      • Investigate the relationship between a family’s income & the likelihood of their child graduating from university

        • University education = dependent V

    • Study the relationship between university education & voting behaviour

      • University education = independent variable

    Example:


    • Subjects are divided into Control & Experimental groups

    • The Indp V is manipulated by researchers

    • The DepV is measured by researchers

    Experiments


    • Subjects may be matched for similar characteristics or be randomly assigned so comparisons can be made

    • This ensures the groups are equivalent at the beginning of the study

    Experiments


    • 1 - Subjects are pre- tested

      • Measured in terms of the Dep V in the Hypothesis

    • 2 - Exposed to a stimulus representing an Indp V

    • 3 - Post-tested

      • Re-measured in terms of the Dep V

    • 4 – Experimental & Control groups are compared to see if they differ in relation to the Dep V & Hyp. is confirmed/rejected

    Simple Experiment Design


    • Laboratory Experiment

      • Subjects are studied in a closed setting so researchers can maintain control over research

    • Natural Experiment

      • Real-life occurences (floods) that provide researchers with “living laboratories”

    • Field Experiment

      • Researchers stage events in a natural setting

    Types of Experiments


    • Pages 45 - 49

    Case Study: Bystander Effect


    • Experiment

      • Laboratory

      • Natural

      • Field

    • Experimental Group

    • Control Group

    Terms you should know:


    • Hypothesis

    • Dependent Variable

    • Independent Variable

    • Quantitative

    • Qualitative

    Terms you should know:


    • Experimental Group

      • Subjects are exposed to an independent variable

  • Control Group

    • Subjects are not exposed to the independent V.

  • Terms you should know:


    • Laboratory Experiment

      • Subjects are studied in a closed setting so researchers can maintain control over research

    • Natural Experiment

      • Real-life occurences (floods) that provide researchers with “living laboratories”

    • Field Experiment

      • Researchers stage events in a natural setting

    Terms you should know:


    • Independent Variables

      • Presumed to cause or determine a dependent V.

        • Age, sex, race, ethnicity

  • Dependent Variables

    • Assumed to depend on or be caused by the indp V.

      • The outcome/effect

  • Terms you should know:


    Terms you should know:


    • Quantitative Research Methods

      • Emphasis on Precise Measurement

      • Uses Statistics and Numbers

    • Qualitative Research Methods

      • Emphasis on Observing, Describing, and Interpreting Behavior

    Terms you should know:


    • A number of respondents are asked identical questions through a systematic questionnaire or interview

    • Answer questions about their attitudes, opinions or behaviour

    Surveys


    • Most common in Sociology

    • Very important research method…

      • Can study things that are not directly observable (attitudes & beliefs)

      • Can describe a population too large to observe directly

    Surveys


    • Respondents:

      • Persons who provide data for analysis through interviews or questionnaires

    • Population

      • The total group of people about whom we want to know

    Survey Terminology


    • Sample

      • The small group chosen from the population to be studied

    • Representative Sample

      • A selection from a larger population that has the essential characteristics of the total population

    • Random Sample

      • Every member of the population has an equal chance of being selected

    Survey Terminology


    • Questionnaire:

      • A research instrument containing a series of items to which subjects respond

        • face-to-face, telephone, internet or self-administered

    • Interview:

      • A data collection encounter in which an interviewer asks the respondent questions and records the answers

    Survey Terminology


    Case Study 2: The Gift of Blood


    • Weighing the social benefits of research against the potential physical and emotional costs to participants

    • Check out some of the ethical issues in these articles:

      http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/ethics

    Research Ethics


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