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Intro to Sociology: Ch. 2

by: Michelle Chang

Intro to Sociology: Ch. 2 Introduction to Sociology

Michelle Chang

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Methods I, II,III Chapter 2 - Sociological Research
Introduction to Sociology
Jeremiah Bohr
introduction sociology
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This 7 page Bundle was uploaded by Michelle Chang on Wednesday February 3, 2016. The Bundle belongs to Introduction to Sociology at University of Wisconsin - Oshkosh taught by Jeremiah Bohr in Winter 2016. Since its upload, it has received 148 views. For similar materials see Introduction to Sociology in Social Sciences at University of Wisconsin - Oshkosh.


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Date Created: 02/03/16
1 Introduction to Sociology SOC 101 (Section 002C) *** Notes from the Textbook: OpenStax. 2013. Introduction to Sociology Methods I, II, III (p. 31-49) Chapter 2: Sociological Research  2.1: Approaches to Sociological Research o The Scientific Method  Involve developing and testing theories about the world based on empirical evidence  Strives to be objective, critical, skeptical, and logical  Results of studies is to provide people with access to knowledge of trends and attitudes  Reliability: measures of a study’s consistency that considers how likely results are to be replicated if a study is reproduced  Validity: degree to which a sociological measure accurately reflects the topic of study  Ask a question, research existing sources, formulate a hypothesis, design and conduct a study, draw conclusions, and report results o Sociologists use the scientific method not only to collect but to interpret and analyze data  Apply scientific logic and objectivity  Interested in but not attracted to results  Use scientific method to maintain as much objectivity, focus, and consistency as possible o Scientific method provides a systematic, organized series of steps that help ensure objectivity and consistency in exploring a social problem  Provide the means for accuracy, reliability, and validity o Ask a Question  Describe a problem, identify specific area of interests; narrow topic to study within a geography and timeframe  Broad enough to have universal merit  Operational definition: specific explanations of abstract concepts that a researcher plans to study  Identifies an observable condition of the concept 2  By operationalizing a variable of the concept, all researchers can collect data in a systematic or replicable manner  Definition must be valid, appropriate, meaningful, and reliable o Research Existing Sources  Literature review: a scholarly research step that entails identifying and studying all existing studies on a topic to create a basis for new research  Helps researchers gain a broad understanding of work previously conducted on the topic at hand and enables them to position their own research to build on prior knowledge  Responsible for correctly citing existing sources that they used in a study or that inform their work  Must be referenced properly and never plagiarized o Formulate a Hypothesis  Hypothesis: an educated guess with predicted outcomes about the relationship between 2 or more variables  Independent variables: cause change in dependent variable (cause)  Dependent variables: changed by other variables (effect) o Interpretive Framework (Interpretive Perspective): a sociological research approach that seeks in-depth understanding of a topic/subject through observation or interaction; this approach is not based on hypothesis testing  Seeks to understand social worlds from the point of view of participants in an in-depth knowledge  More descriptive or narrative in its findings  2.2: Research Methods o Use research methods to design a study – detailed, systematic, scientific method from conducting research and obtaining data o Planning the research design is a key in any sociological study o Particular social events – researchers must be careful  Anonymous or overt  Conduct interviews or observe  Study subjects may not behave naturally if told they are part of a study; sociologists’ presence influenced study results 3  Hawthorne effect: when study subjects behave in a certain manner due to their awareness of being observed by a researcher o Four Methods of Social Investigation  Surveys: collect data from subjects who respond to a series of questions about behaviors and opinions, often in the form of a questionnaire  Allows individuals a level of anonymity in which they can express personal ideas  Gather different types of information: discovering how people feel and think, track preferences, report individual behaviors, and factual information (employment status, income, and education levels)  Targets a specific population  Population: a defined group serving as the subject of a study  Sample: small manageable number of subjects that represent the population  Random sample: a study’s participants being randomly selected to serve as a representation of a larger population  After selecting targets, researchers ask questions and record responses  Quantitative data: represent research collected in numerical form that can be counted  “Yes” or “No” responses, correct answers  Qualitative data: comprise information that is subjective and often based on what is seen in a natural setting  Conveys personal information, religious beliefs, political views, and morals  Some topics that reflect internal thought that are impossible to observe directly and are difficult to discuss honestly in a public form  Anonymous – more likely to share honest answers  Harder to organize and tabulate 4  Interview: a one-to-one conversation between the researcher and the subject  Similar to short answer questions  Free to respond without predetermined choices  No right or wrong answers o Field Research: gathering data from a natural environment without doing a lab experiment or survey  Meet subjects where they live, work, and play  Interpretive framework > scientific method  Willing to step into new environments and observe, participate, or experience those worlds  Researcher interacts with or observes a person or people – gathering data along the way  Begins in a specific setting, the study’s purpose is to observe specific behaviors in that setting  Optimal for observing how people behave  Less useful for understanding why they behave that way – cannot narrow down to cause and effect because there is too many variable in a natural environment  Correlation: when a change in one variable coincides with a change in another variable, but does not necessarily indicate causation  Three Types of Field Research  Participant observation: when a researcher immerses her/himself in a group or social setting in order to make observations from an “insider” perspective  Experience a specific aspect of social life  Temporally put themselves into roles and record their observations  Blend in with population – do not disclose true identity or purpose  Ethnography: observing a complete social setting and all that it entails  Involve objective observation of an entire community  Focuses on how subjects view their own social standing and how they understand themselves in relation to a community 5  Places that have borders  EX. Village in Thailand, a Buddhist monastery, a private boarding school, or Disney World  People are there for a certain reason and therefore behave in certain ways and respect certain cultural norms  Case study: in-depth analysis of a single event, situation, or individual  Researcher examines existing sources like documents and archival records, conducts interviews, engages in direct observation, and even participant observation  Major criticism – does not provide enough evidence to form a generalized conclusion  Difficult to make universal claim based on just one person, since one person does not verify a pattern  Useful when single case is unique  EX. Feral child aka “wild child”  Experiments: the testing of a hypothesis under controlled conditions  Two Main Types of Experiments  Lab-based experiments  Research can be controlled so that perhaps more data can be recorded in a certain amount of time  Natural or field experiments  Generation of data cannot be controlled but the information might be considered more accurate since it was collected without interference or intervention by the researcher  If-Then statements: if a particular thing happens, then another particular thing will result  Sociologists selects a set of people with similar characteristics – age, class, race, or education – and divide them into 2 groups, randomly 6  Group 1 – experimental group, exposed to independent variable  Group 2 – control group, not exposed to independent variable  Secondary data analysis: using data collected by others but applying new interpretations  Already completed work of other researchers  Saves time and money, and also add depth into study  Nonreactive (or unobtrusive): using secondary data, does not include direct contact with subjects and will not alter or influence people’s behaviors (advantage)  Content analysis: applying a systematic approach to record and value information gleaned from secondary data as it relates to the study at hand  Important to consider the date of publication of an existing source and to take into account attitudes and common cultural ideas that may influenced the research  2.3: Ethical Concerns  Sociologists conduct studies to shed light on human behaviors  Help improve people’s lives  The American Sociological Association (ASA)  Major professional organization of sociologists in North America  Code of ethics: a set of guidelines that the ASA established to foster ethical research and professionally responsible scholarship in sociology  Also describes procedures for filing, investigating, and resolving complaints of unethical conduct  Sociologists and sociology students must take ethical responsibility for any study they conduct  Value neutrality: a practice of remaining impartial, without bias or judgement during the course of a study and in publishing results  Does not mean not having no opinions 7  Strive to overcome personal biases and avoid skewing data


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