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Research Ethics and Structuring Inquiry . Ethics and Politics of Research. Ethics deals with methods used in research. Politics deals with representation of research. James Colemen and School Desegregation

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ethics and politics of research
Ethics and Politics of Research
  • Ethics deals with methods used in research.
  • Politics deals with representation of research.
    • James Colemen and School Desegregation
    • Eminent sociologist who found little difference in the academic performance of African-Americans in integrated vs. segregated schools
    • Instead family and neighborhood mattered most
    • Controversy and misrepresentation
ethics in social research
Ethics in Social Research
  • Voluntary participation.
  • No harm to participants.
    • Voluntary participation is based on a full understanding of possible risks.
  • Anonymity and confidentiality.
ethics in social research1
Ethics in Social Research
  • Deception
    • Needs to be justified by compelling scientific or administrative concerns.
    • Debriefing session or procedure
  • Analysis and Reporting
    • Researchers must be honest about their findings and research.
ethics in social research2
Ethics in Social Research
  • Institutional Review Boards
    • Review research proposals involving humans so they can guarantee the rights and interests are protected.
  • Professional Codes of Ethics
    • Most professional associations have formal codes of conduct that describe acceptable and unacceptable professional behavior.
ethical controversy tearooms
Ethical Controversy: Tearooms
  • Study of homosexual behavior in public restrooms
  • Lied to participants by telling them he was a “watchqueen”
  • Traced participants to their home and interviewed them under false pretenses
    • Invasion of privacy?
    • Deception of respondents?
ethical controversy milgram
Ethical Controversy: Milgram
  • Study of human obedience.
  • Subjects had role of "teacher" and administered a shock to "pupils".
  • Pupils were actually part of the experiment.
    • Act out the effects of progressively higher “shocks”
    • Two-third continue to the highest level
    • “teachers” express great discomfort
group exercise
Group Exercise
  • Would you use research insights gained from research conducted in violation of ethical guidelines?
    • Ex., Tuskegee Airman Studies
    • Ex., Nazi War Experiments
  • Would you conduct a study that did not get IRB approval if you thought the topic was important?
    • Ex. Public responses to major news event
    • Ex. Studying the health effects of an oil spill
nature of inquiry
Nature of Inquiry
  • What question are you trying to answer?
    • Pick the appropriate approach
  • Do you want to explain one case fully or understand a class of cases?
    • Different approaches with different goals
idiographic vs nomothetic
Idiographic vs. Nomothetic
  • Two ends of a continuum of inquiry
  • The Idiographic Orientation
    • Unique characteristics of phenomena:
      • Rich description of “idiosyncratic” features
      • Intention is to explain one case fully
  • The Nomothetic Orientation
    • Generating generalizable principles
      • Establishing “trans-situational” laws
      • Intention is to explain a class
inductive reasoning
Inductive Reasoning
  • Moves from the particular to the general
  • Observations lead to generalizations
  • Exploratory investigation
  • E.g., Identifying news frames through ethnographic study of newsroom culture and news production practices
    • Identifying frames as you encounter them
deductive reasoning
Deductive Reasoning
  • Moves from the general to the particular
  • General principles lead to expectations for empirical testing
  • Theory testing investigation
  • E.g., Using theories of news production to:
    • Predict certain frames will occur more frequently
    • Episodic over thematic framing (Iyengar’s research)
wallace s wheel of science
Wallace’s Wheel of Science










creating explanations
Creating Explanations
  • Research often seeks explanations by:
    • examining relationships between variables
    • E.g. Is gender related to party preference?
    • E.g. Is education related to prejudice?
    • E.g. Is political discussion related to civic participation?
conditions of causality
Conditions of Causality:
  • Covariation
    • Correspondence between cause and effect
    • Positive or negative covariation
  • Time-order
    • Cause must precede effect
  • Absence of third variables
    • Spurious relationships
spurious relationships
Spurious Relationships
  • Situations where X and Y appear to be related:
    • But are really the function of third variable Z
  • 1. Antecedent variable
    • Z causes both X and Y
  • 2. Intervening variable
    • X causes Z, Z causes X
  • Causation is rarely as simple as X causing Y
    • Multitude of factors cause Y
      • Contribute in varying amounts
necessary sufficient causes
Necessary & Sufficient Causes
  • Necessary Cause:
    • For Y to occur, X must occur first
    • Just because X occurs, doesn’t mean Y will occur
    • Other factors may have to occur too
    • To pass the test, you must take the test
  • Sufficient Cause:
    • If X occurs, Y will occur
    • X determines Y, no contingencies
    • Other factors may also have the effect
    • If you skip an exam, you fail the exam