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Research Methods in the Social Sciences. Theory & Research. Outline. What is theory? Why does it matter? Direction of theory: Deduction Induction Positivism Grounded theory Feminism Ontology . What is theory?. Social Theory – a system of interconnected ideas Organises knowledge

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outline
Outline
  • What is theory?
  • Why does it matter?
  • Direction of theory:
    • Deduction
    • Induction
  • Positivism
  • Grounded theory
  • Feminism
  • Ontology
what is theory
What is theory?
  • Social Theory – a system of interconnected ideas
  • Organises knowledge
  • Tells a story
  • Is not ideology
  • Question is, how we use theory
why does it matter
Why does it matter?
  • Facts need to be interpreted
  • Theory helps explain and understand
  • Sensitises the researcher
  • Informs our assumptions
  • Help us to relate concepts
  • Guides our research
direction of theory
Direction of theory
  • Begin with abstract thinking and then logically connect the theoretical ideas to evidence
  • Begin with observations and then generalise to build theories.
deduction
Deduction
  • Theory comes before research
  • Research tests the strength of a theory
  • A proposition is turned into a hypothesis to be tested
  • From abstract to empirical
induction
Induction
  • Observation before theory
  • Make links between facts to arrive at theory
  • Facts can speak for themselves
  • They are objective and external
  • Observation is distinct from theory
positivism
Positivism
  • The study of ‘social facts’ (those which can belong to society but not to individuals)
  • Observe and measure an objective thing
  • Scientific model (Newtonian)
  • Favours ‘objective’ statistics
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“Positivism sets up a certain model of science as value-free, atomistic; discovering causal laws […] These are supposed to be characteristic of the natural sciences that have made them so successful, and the assumption is that if the social sciences could only imitate them, they would achieve similar success” (Collier, A (2005) Philosophical and Critical Realism)
grounded theory
Grounded theory
  • Discover theory through analysing data
  • From the ‘ground’ up
  • Inductive method
  • Uses open coding
  • Read and re-read (and re-read) text to generate theory
feminist theory
Feminist theory
  • Researches within a patriarchal society
  • Focus upon emancipation
  • Reject objectivity
  • Collaborative research
  • Anti-positivist stance
  • Realist ontology
ontology
Ontology
  • The basic components of society:
    • Individual people (positivist)
    • Social structures (anti-positivist)
  • What do we study?
    • Individuals or structures?
  • What is society made up of?
    • People?
    • Structures?
  • How will this impact research?
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