SYG1000 Chapter 2 Outline
SYG1000 Chapter 2 Outline SYG 1000
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This 8 page Class Notes was uploaded by Nicole Lopez on Tuesday January 19, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to SYG 1000 at Florida State University taught by Gloria Lessan in Summer 2015. Since its upload, it has received 100 views. For similar materials see Intro to Sociology in Sociology at Florida State University.
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Date Created: 01/19/16
Chapter 2: Asking and Answering Sociological Questions Four Factors that unify all scientific endeavors 1. They are usually interested in studying things not for their own sake, but to develop theories that can apply to the widest class of things with similar characteristics 2. All scientific conclusions are uncertain, in order for claim to be scientific it must come with a statement that explain how much uncertainty there is as to whether it is true 3. Procedures must be publicized so that all studies can be repeated by others who want to see if they get the same results 4. If correct procedures are followed, any topic can be the subject matter of science 7 Steps in the Research Process Defining the Research Problem • All research starts with a problem; the best sociological research begins with a problem that are also puzzles o Much of the skill in producing worthwhile sociological research consists in correctly identifying puzzles • No piece of research stands alone, one project may lead to another because it raises issues the researcher had not previously considered Reviewing the Literature • Once the problem is identified, the sociologist must review related research: Have previous researchers spotted the same puzzles? How have they tried to solve it? o Drawing on others’ ideas helps the sociologist clarify the relevant issues and the appropriate research methods Formulating a hypothesis • This part involves clearly formulating the research problem • Hypothesis: ideas of guesses about a given state of affairs, put forward as bases for empirical testing o For the research to be effective, a hypothesis must be formulated in such a way that the factual material gathered will provide evidence either supporting or disproving it Selecting a Research Design • The researcher then decides how to collect research materials, choosing from a range of methods based on the objectives of the study as well as the aspects of behavior under study o Surveys, interviews or observations might be suitable for this step Carrying out the Research • While carrying out the research, unforeseen practical difficulties may occur • Some difficulties might be bias the study results and lead to false interpretations Interpreting the Results • Gathering material for analysis may be just the beginning of the researcher’s troubles. • Working out the implications of the data and relating them to the research problem are rarely easy tasks Reporting the Research Findings • The research report is usually published as a journal article or book, related the nature of the research and seeks to justify its conclusions • This is a final stage only in terms of the individual project, most reports identify unanswered questions and suggest options for further research Asking and Answering Sociological Questions: Historical Context • When sociology began as a discipline, it was a highly theoretical field o It consisted of much armchair speculation • The goal of sociology was represented in two figures, both of whom were professors at the University of Chicago, Robert Park and William Ogburn o Park’s belief about how to make social research more scientific came from his background both as a student of philosophy in Europe and as a reporter for the Minneapolis Star o He was interested in developing theories, but wanted them to relate directly to the actual lives of people, and to be based on the careful accumulation of evidence about their lives • Park thought that the most important thing for a sociologist to do was to go around all the neighborhoods of the city and find out what was going on by meeting people who were the subjects of the sociologists’ theories • William Ogburn was another prominent sociologist at the University of Chicago, he didn’t believe that the future of sociology lay in shoe leather, in well-written books, in findings that could not be quantified, or in efforts to influence public policy o He believed that these were the domain of ethics, religion, journalism and propaganda o He also argued that sociology needs to become a science, and its goal was to “discover new knowledge” • Ogburn wanted sociology to be a field that looked a lot more like the natural sciences in both its presentation and orientation o Park on the other hand, believed that clear ideas about what the subject matter of sociology should be (immigration and the life of the city), Ogburn believed sociologists could study anything that could be measured with numbers • For Park, the personal, emotional, and scientific side of sociology coexisted with the aspiration to develop explanations about the social world Asking and Answering Sociological Questions: The Research Method • Research methods: the diverse methods of investigation used to gather empirical (factual) material o Different research methods exist in sociology, but the most commonly used are fieldwork (or participant observation) and survey methods • Modern sociology embraces a variety of methodologies, people in sociology end up developing a wide range Ethnography • Ethnography: the firsthand study of people using participant observation or interviewing • Participant observation: a method of research widely used in sociology and anthropology in which the researcher takes part in the activities of the group or community being studied o Ethnography involves firsthand studies of people, using participant observation or interviewing § An ethnographer cannot simply be present in the group she studies, but must justify her presence to its members • In traditional works of ethnography, accounts provided little information about the observer because ethnographers were expected to present objective reports o More recently, ethnographers were expected to present objective reports • Successful ethnography provides information on the behavior of people in groups, organizations, and communities and how these people understand their own behavior. o Once we look inside a given group, we can better understand not only that group but also broader social processes Surveys • Interpreting ethnographies usually involves problems of generalization because we cannot be sure that what we find in one context will apply to others, or even that two different researchers will draw the same conclusions when studying the same group o This is usually less problematic in survey research o Survey: a method of sociological research in which questionnaires are administered to the population being studied o Population: the people who are the focus of social research • Two types of questions are used in surveys, one contains standardized or, fixed choice, set of questions to which only a fixed range of responses is possible o The possible answers are: yes, no, don’t know, very likely, likely, unlikely, very unlikely o These types of surveys might be restrictive due to the lack of verbal expression • The other type of survey is open-ended questionnaires, in which respondents have more opportunity to use their own words. o These typically provide more detailed information than do standardized ones o The lack of standardization means that responses may be difficult to compare statistically • Questionnaire items are normally listed so that every member of the team of interviewers can ask the questions and record responses in the same order, all items must be understandable to interviewers and interviewees alike o Questionnaires should also accommodate the characteristics of respondents • Most surveys are preceded by pilot studies, which reveal problems with the survey not anticipated by the investigator • Pilot study: a trial run in survey research • Sample: a small proportion of a larger population o Usually the results from a properly chosen sample can be generalized to the total population o But to achieve such accuracy, the sample must be representative; the individuals studied must be typical of the population as a whole • Sampling: studying a proportion of individuals or cases from a larger population as representative of that population as a whole • Random sampling: sampling method in which a sample is chosen so that every member of the population has the same probability of being included o This is the most sophisticated way of obtaining a random sample is to assign each member of the population a number and then use a computer to generate a random list from which the sample is derived Advantage and disadvantages of surveys • Many sociologists are critical of the survey method; they argue that findings whose accuracy may be dubious, given the relatively shallow nature of most survey responses, can nonetheless appear to be precise Experiments • Experiment: a research method in which variables can be analyzed in a controlled and systematic way, either in an artificial situation constructed by the research or in naturally occurring settings • In a typical experiment, people are randomly assigned to two groups o The first, called the experimental group, receives special attention, based on the researcher’s theory o The second, called the control group, does not receive this attention o The subjects usually do not know to which group they have been assigned • A classic example of this is the Stanford Prison Experiment carried out by Phillip Zimbardo in 1971 Statistical Terms • Measures of central tendency: the ways of calculating averages • Correlation coefficient: the measures of the degree of correlation between variables • Mean: a statistical measure of central tendency, or average, based on dividing a total by the number of individual cases • Median: the number that falls halfway in a range of numbers, a way of calculating central tendency that is sometimes more useful than calculating a mean • Mode: the number that appears most often in a given set of data. This can sometimes be a helpful way of portraying central tendency Comparative Historical Research • Comparative research: research that compares one set of findings on one society with the same type of findings on other societies o Comparative research is crucial in sociology because it enables researchers to document whether social behavior varies across time, place and according to one’s own social group membership • The most influential way of doing comparative research is through historical research Unanswered Questions Understanding Cause and Effect of Social Context • One of the main problems faced in research methodology is the analysis of cause and effect o One difficult causal relationship to understand is an association in which on social context produces a certain effect • Although one of the main tasks of sociology is to identify causes and effects, there is a crisis of confidence among many scholars that such a goal is not as easily attained as once thought Human Subjects and Ethical Dilemmas • All research involving human beings can pose ethical dilemmas • A key question for sociologists is whether research poses risks to subjects that are greater than the risks those subjects face in their everyday life Can We Really Study Human Social Life in a Scientific Way? • Science: in the sense of physical science, the systematic study of the physical world. o Science involved the disciplined marshaling of empirical data, combined with theoretical approaches and theories that illuminate or explain that o Scientific activity combines the creation of bold new modes of thought with the careful testing of hypotheses and ideas • Empirical investigation: factual inquiries carried out in any area of sociological study • Sociology is not equivalent to a natural science o Unlike nature and animals, humans are self-aware beings who confer sense and purpose on what they do o We can’t describe social life accurately unless we grasp the concept that people apply in their own behavior • The fact that we cannot study human beings in the same way as objects in nature is an advantage to sociological researchers, who profit from being able to pose questions directly to those they study. o People who are aware that their activities are being scrutinized may not behave normally
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