Intro to Sociology: Ch. 2
Intro to Sociology: Ch. 2 Introduction to Sociology
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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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