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Chapter 2 Book Notes

by: Elizabeth Schill

Chapter 2 Book Notes 101

Elizabeth Schill

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These are the book notes from chapter 2.
Intro to Sociology
Dr. Jeff Erger
Class Notes
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This 6 page Class Notes was uploaded by Elizabeth Schill on Sunday February 14, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to 101 at University of Wisconsin - Eau Claire taught by Dr. Jeff Erger in Spring 2016. Since its upload, it has received 65 views. For similar materials see Intro to Sociology in Sociology at University of Wisconsin - Eau Claire.


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Date Created: 02/14/16
Chapter 2 Notes I) Basics of Sociological Investigation A) Starts with two simple requirements 1) Apply the sociological perspective 2) Be curious and ask questions B) Science as One Type of Truth 1) Science (a)A logical system that bases knowledge on direct, systematic observation 2) Empirical evidence (a)Information we can verify with our senses C) Common Sense versus Scientific Evidence 1) Many people assume things to be true but really aren’t 2) Example (a)Poor people are far more likely that rich people to break the law II) Three Ways to Do Sociology A) Positivist Sociology 1) The study of society based on systematic observation of social behavior 2) Assumes that objective reality exists “out there” 3) Concepts, Variables, and Measurement (a)Concept (i) A mental construct that represents some part of the world in a simplified form (ii)Use concepts to label aspects of social life, including “the family” and to categorize people in terms of their “gender”, etc. (b)Variable (i) A concept whose value changes from case to case (ii)“Price” changes from item to item, as does “social class”: “lower class” etc. (c)Measurement (i) A procedure for determining the value of a variable of a variable in a specific case (ii)Most variables can be measured in more than one way; as you often have to decide which factors you want to use (iii) Descriptive statistics  State what is “average” for a large number of people (d)Defining Concepts (i) Operationalize a variable  Specifying exactly what is to be measured before assigning a value to a variable (e)Reliability and Validity (i) Reliability  Consistency in measurement (ii)Validity  Actually measuring exalt what you intend to measure (f) Relationships Among Variables (i) Cause and effect  A relationship in which change in one variable causes change in another (ii)Independent variable  The variable that causes the change (iii) Dependent variable  The variable that changes (iv) Correlation  A relationship in which two (or more) variables change together (v)Spurious correlation  An apparent but false relationship between two (or more) variables that is caused by some other variable (vi) Control  Holding constant all variables except one in order to see clearly the effect of that variable (vii) Three requirements to demonstrate cause and effect  A demonstrated correlation  An independent (causal) variable that occurs before the dependent variable  No evidence that a third variable could be causing a spurious relationship between the two (g)The Ideal of Objectivity (i) Objectivity  Personal neutrality in conditioning research (ii)Replication  Repetition of research by other investigators (h)Some Limitations of Scientific Sociology (i) Human behavior is too complex for sociologists to predict any individual’s actions precisely (ii)Because humans respond to their surroundings, the presence of a researcher may affect the behavior being studied (iii) Social patterns vary; what is true in one time or place may not hold true in another (iv) Because sociologists are part of the social world they study, they can never be 100 percent value-free when conducting social research B) Interpretive Sociology 1) Interpretive sociology (a)The study of society that focuses on the meanings people attach to their social world 2) The Importance of Meaning (a)Focuses on people’s understanding of their actions and their surroundings (b)Reality is subjective (c)Favors qualitative data (d)Learn more by interacting 3) Weber’s Concept of Verstehen (a)German word for understanding (b)Does not just observe but also will understand why C) Critical Sociology 1) Karl Marx founded this type 2) Critical sociology (a)The study of society that focuses on the need for social change 3) The Importance of Change (a)Seek to change not just society but also the character of research itself 4) Sociology as Politics (a)Aims to change whatever they are/will be researching D) Research Orientations and Theory 1) Positivist orientation is common with the structural-functional approach (a)Concerned with understanding society as it is 2) Interpretive sociology is common with the symbolic- interaction approach 3) Critical sociology is common with the social-conflict approach (a)Seek to reduce social inequality III) Issues Affecting Sociological Research A) Gender 1) Gender (a)The personal traits and social positions that members of a society attach to being male or female 2) Margaret Eichler identifies 5 ways gender shapes research (a)Androcentricity (i) Literally “focus on the male” (ii)Refers to approaching an issue from a male perspective (iii) Gynocentricity  Seeing the world from a female perspective (b)Overgeneralizing (i) Ex) using data drawn from only one gender to support conclusions about society (c)Gender Blindness (i) Failing to consider gender at all (d)Double Standards (i) Careful not to distort what is being studied by judging men and women differently (e)Interference (i) If a subject reacts to the gender of the researcher B) Research Ethics 1) Must try to be skillful and fair-minded 2) Must not harm subjects 3) Protect the privacy of anyone involved 4) Informed consent 5) Must reveal sources of all financial support 6) Must become familiar enough with researched society IV)Research Methods A) Research method 1) A systematic plan for doing research B) Testing a Hypothesis: The Experiment 1) Experiment (a)A research method for investigating cause and effect under highly controlled conditions 2) Hypothesis (a)A statement of a possible relationship between two (or more) variables 3) 4 steps to reject or not reject a hypothesis (a)state which variable is the independent variable and which is the dependent variable (b)measure the initial value of the dependent variable (c)expose the dependent variable again to see what change, if any, took place 4) The Hawthorne Effect (a)Hawthorne effect (i) A change in a subject’s behavior caused simply by the awareness of being studied 5) Illustration of an Experiment: The “Stanford County Prison” (a)Philip Zimbardo devised this experiment to see if prisons themselves cause violent behavior C) Asking Survey Questions” Survey Research 1) Survey (a)A research method in which subjects respond to a series of statements or questions on a questionnaire or in an interview 2) Population and Sample (a)Population (i) The people who are the focus of the research (b)Sample (i) a part of a population that represents the whole 3) Using Questionnaires (a)Questionnaire (i) A series of written questions a researcher presents to subjects (b)Types of questionnaires (i) Closed-ended questions  Multiple choice (ii)Open-ended format  Open-ended questions 4) Conducting Interviews (a)Interview (i) A series of questions a researcher asks respondents in person 5) Illustration of Survey Research: Studying the African American Elite (a)Snowball sampling (i) Asking people you interview to interview people they know (b)Racism still exists D) In the Field: Participant Observation 1) Participant observation (a)A research method in which investigators systematically observe people while joining them in their routine activities 2) Illustration of Participant Observation: Studying the Homeless in Jackson, Mississippi (a)Key informant (i) Not only a source of information but also serve to introduce a researcher to others in the community (b)Joseph Ewoodzie immersed himself in the homeless population E) Using Available Data: Existing Sources 1) Many researchers use things like the government’s statistics that has already gathered data for them 2) Illustration of the Use of Existing Sources: A Tale of Two Cities (a)E. Digby Baltzell researched why many more famous people came from Boston, not Philadelphia (b)Boston was settled by the Puritans and Philadelphia was settled by Quakers two very different religious groups F) Research Methods and Theory 1) Inductive logical thought (a)Reasoning that transforms specific observations into general theory (b)Deductive logical thought (i) Reasoning that transforms general theory into specific hypotheses suitable for testing G) Putting It All Together: Ten Steps in Sociological Investigation 1) What is your topic? 2) What have others already learned? 3) What, exactly, are your questions? 4) What will you need to carry out research? 5) Are there ethical concerns? 6) What method will you use? 7) How will you record the data? 8) What do the data tell you? 9) What are your conclusions? 10) How can you share what you’ve learned?


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