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The Practice of Social Research 10/e. Earl Babbie Chapman University. Chapter 1. Human Inquiry and Science. Chapter Outline. Looking For Reality The Foundations of Social Science Some Dialectics of Social Research The Ethics of Social Research. How We Know What We Know.

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The practice of social research 10 e l.jpg

The Practice of Social Research 10/e

Earl BabbieChapman University


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Chapter 1

Human Inquiry and Science


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Chapter Outline

  • Looking For Reality

  • The Foundations of Social Science

  • Some Dialectics of Social Research

  • The Ethics of Social Research


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How We Know What We Know

  • Direct Experience and Observation

  • Personal Inquiry

  • Tradition

  • Authority


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Looking for Reality

Two Criteria

  • Logical support - must make sense

  • Empirical support - must not contradict actual observation


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Ordinary Human Inquiry

  • Humans recognize that future circumstances are caused by present ones.

  • Learn that patterns of cause and effect are probabilistic in nature.

  • Aim to answer both “what” and “why” questions, and pursue these goals by observing and figuring out.


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Things “Everyone Knows”

  • Sources of our secondhand knowledge:

    • Tradition

    • Authority

  • Both provide a starting point for inquiry, but can lead us to start at the wrong point and push us in the wrong direction.


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Errors in Inquiry and Solutions

  • Inaccurate observations

    • Measurement devices guard against inaccurate observations and add a degree of precision.

  • Overgeneralization

    • Commit to a representative sample of observations and repeat a study to make sure the same results are produced each time.


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Errors in Inquiry and Solutions

  • Selective observation

    • Make an effort to find “deviant cases” that do not fit into the general pattern.

  • Illogical Reasoning

    • Use systems of logic consciously and explicitly.


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Views of Reality

  • Premodern - Things are as they seem to be.

  • Modern - Acknowledgment of human subjectivity.

  • Postmodern -There is no objective reality to be observed.


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Foundations of Social Science

  • Theory - logic

  • Data collection - observation

  • Data Analysis - comparison of what is logically expected with what is actually observed


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Social Regularities

Examples of Patterns in social life:

  • Only people aged 18 and above can vote.

  • Only people with a license can drive.


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Aggregates

  • The collective actions and situations of many individuals.

  • Focus of social science is to explain why aggregated patterns of behavior are regular even when individuals change over time.




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Approaches to Social Research

  • Idiographic - Seeks to fully understand the causes of what happened in a single instance.

  • Nomothetic - Seeks to explain a class of situations or events rather than a single one.


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Approaches to Social Research

  • Induction – Moves from specific observations to the discovery of a pattern that represents order among all the given events.

  • Deduction - Moves from a pattern that might be logically or theoretically expected to observations that test whether the expected pattern occurs.


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Approaches to Social Research

  • Qualitative Data – Nonnumerical data

  • Quantitative Data -Numerical data, makes observations more explicit and makes it easier to aggregate, compare, and summarize data.


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Approaches to Social Research

  • Pure Research - Sometimes justified in terms of gaining “knowledge for knowledge’s sake.”

  • Applied Research – Putting research into practice.


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