The practice of Social Rese arch
Chapter 1 – Human Inquiry and Science
• Looking for reality
o We want to understand what reality is
o How do we know what is real?
o Learn different methods for how we can answer the question about what is real about the
topic we are asking
o Scientific conclusions must have both empirical and logical support
o I.e. There must be evidence, and there should be a plausible explanation
o E.g. knowing a gay/lesbian person and attitudes towards gays/lesbians
o Epistemology – the science of knowing; systems of knowledge; philosophical
o Methodology – the science of finding out; procedures for scientific investigation; this
course is about learning the different methods social scientists use to gain knowledge
o Agreement reality – those things we know as part of the culture we share with those
o Culture can mean academic culture, broader Canadian or American culture, etc.
o Agreement reality – idea of how we come to know the things we do by accepting what
others around us suggest is true
o Tradition: accepting as truth what our culture suggests is true; accepted knowledge
o Authority: accepting as truth what experts say
o Tradition and authority are agreement reality and will help and hinder us in different
Help: provides starting points; raise questions to study
Hinder: are finding still relevant and in all contexts; are experts actually experts;
does the evidence actually support the conclusions?
o Examples of tradition and authority:
Food bank clientele: has increased: what methods can we employ to observe this
phenomenon to better understand why they use the food bank and why has the
number of food bank users increased over time.
Crime trends: sociologists are interested in crime and deviance. There is a
consistent theme that runs through popular culture that we need to get tough on
crime and crime rates are increasing; we need tougher laws. Empirical evidence
show that crime rates have actually decreased and tougher sentences do not