The Logic of Social Science Research. A lecture by. Sociology 3522 29 Jan. 2008. Dr Christopher Kollmeyer. Epistemology: How do we know when something is true?. Natural Sciences Scientific Method Social Sciences 3 Research Orientations Positivism (often quantitative research)
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A lecture by
29 Jan. 2008
Dr Christopher Kollmeyer
Support or Refute Theory
Theory Hypothesis Collect Data Findings
Findings confirm or reject hypothesis Revise theory
Theory: Plausible explanation for a particular social phenomenon.
Theory explains the ‘causal relationship’ between social variables.
The data determine the ‘correlation between variables’.
Founding Theories of Sociology
Karl Marx (Capitalism and Society)
Max Weber (Religion and Capitalism)
Emile Durkheim (DOL and Anomie)
Variables: An important “object” within a theory that can take on two or more different values or categories.
Examples of Sociological Variables:
Economic systems: capitalism, socialism, mixed economies.
Social Class: upper class, middle class, working class, lower class.
Gender: male, female (perhaps transgendered)
Proxies: A variable that represents (albeit imperfectly) a more complicated sociological concept. Proxies enable researchers to measure abstract social phenomena.
Community disorder ---- ASBOs issued per year
Gender Equality -- Gender pay gap
Political participation --- Voter participation rates
National Prosperity --- Income per capita
Hypothesis: A short and empirically testable statement, derived from theory, which predicts a certain outcome.
Possible hypotheses for classical theories in sociology:
Marx: The more the economy is privately owned, the more economic inequality will grow in that society.
Weber: Protestant-dominated countries have stronger economies than Catholic-dominated countries.
Durkheim: The more advanced a society’s division of labor, the more people in that society will suffer from anomie.
Important note: All of these hypotheses can be tested; thus they are said to be ‘falsifiable’.
1) Write out a one sentence hypothesis that offers a plausible explanation for the following social problems:
gender inequality in the workplace
anti-social behavior among teenagers
2) Identify the variables in your hypotheses
3) How you would measure these variables?