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Lecture

Sociology 210 week 1 and 2

12 Pages
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Department
Sociology
Course Code
SOCY 210
Professor
Vincent F Sacco

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Socy 210: Research methods Assignment 1 September 11, 2013 Introduction the research process  How do we know what we know?  We know because we have gone into the empirical world, and done research and discovered things  How much confidence can we have in what we know?  An examination of “best practice”  Our attention is limited to empirical questions  A question that has an answer that presumably qualified observers would agree Making sense of “empirical reality”  This simple claim raises a number of very complicated philosophical questions  What is reality (agreement, experiential), This is complicated question with no single answer  We are interested in assertions about reality, which have both logical and empirical support  What is empirical reality?  Our brains fool us, and mess with us  Sometime the line of empirical reality is blurry  Can prayer cure heart disease?  We can contrast the ways of knowing emphasizes in this course (version of the scientific method) with more familiar ways of knowing  Tradition  Authority  Common sense Tradition  Information passed on through socialization  Acquired from culture, social institutions, common knowledge  Cumulative knowledge  Found in religious tracts, oral traditions, aphorisms  The problem with much traditional knowledge is easy to illustrate Authority  Comes from those who hold some status and supposedly by implication expertise  The importance of credentials  The importance of celebrity  Credentials and celebrity  Victims as authorities Common sense  Refers to what “everybody know” and what is self-validating  Common sense and anti-intellectualism as in common sense revolutions  An important role for sociologist has been debunking of common sense ex. Stouffer’s study of American Soldier  Better educated men showed more psycho=neurotic symptoms than those with less education  Men from rural back grounds in better spirits than those from cities  Those from southern climates better able to stand the head in South Sea Islands tan those northern climates  As long as fighting continued men we more anxious to return home that they were when the war ended  What was found that all of these “common sense” facts were false?  We believe that the solutions to social problems are common sense, however we have never solved any of them; whereas we solve natural science problems all the time September 14 2013 Common Errors of Human 
Inquiry 1. Inaccurate observation  Casual, semi-conscious observation à mistake  We may miss information – lose accuracy  We don’t always see things – do not notice unless disciplined  An impressive body of mainly social psychological evidence attests to our limitations in this respect (eg attention blindness, change blindness)  Inaccurate observation as an art form (Sleights of Mind: What the Neuroscience of Magic Reveals about Our Everyday Deceptions Macknik et al.  We can not have much confidence in unstructured environment 2. Overgeneralization Assuming that a few similar events are evidence of general pattern From experience From media portrayals you spend mostly all of your time with people very similar to you  that promotes the idea that your ideas are general ideas HOWEVER-- If you go outside of your bubble you will see this is not the case  Common Errors of Human 
Inquiry and Possible Safeguards 3. Selective Observation (confirmation bias)  Concentrating on observations that fit the pattern or theory we are using to explain a particular phenomenon, while ignoring other sources of data  Cold readers as an example  Comformation bias à the tendency to be more attentive to things we already believe then to things that we do not believe  less tuned into things we do not believe in photo à they claim they can talk to dead people  fraud  show more of the hits then the misses  we remember the things we think are true forget the others 4. Illogical Reasoning  Statistical regression towards the mean  Reaching a conclusion through means that are not logical e.g. Gamblers fallacy  the belief if in a series of events if a particular event occurs happens ie. 5 times then the other option must happen the 6th time  ALTHOUGH the 50/50 (flipping a coin) is independent of the pervious flips The Regression fallacy  If on a particular measure of something – you achieve an extreme score then the following will be closer to average  Ex. Crime rate is getting very very high in new york à so we do something about it (hire a lot more police) à then the crime goes down – this may not be because of the police – it may just be because the crime was at its highest point then started to generate towards the mean again  The “Sharpshooter Fallacy” – involves drawing the target after the shots have been fired rather than before. (Is there a dark side to OZ?)  We fire at the wall – then look at the target and see how we have to change  In general it seems we underestimate the role of coincidence (is there really a 27 Club?)  In short, we underestimate the role of coincidence in our lives…  The names Lincoln and Kennedy both contain exactly seven letters.  Lincoln was elected president in 1860. Exactly one hundred years later in 1960, Kennedy was elected president.  Both men were succeeded by vice-presidents named Johnson who were southern democrats and former senators.  Lincoln was killed in Ford's theater. Kennedy met his death while riding in a Lincoln convertible made by the Ford motor company.  Both men were assassinated on a Friday, in the presence of their wives.  Both presidents were killed by a bullet that entered the head from behind.  Both assassins were southerners who held extremist views.  Booth shot Lincoln in a theater and fled to a barn. Oswald shot Kennedy from a warehouse and fled to a theater. The foundations of social research  The scientific enterprise consists of  Theory: an explanation—generalizable  Data Collection  Data Analysis  Theory: A systematic explanation for the observation that relate to a particular aspect of life, such as juvenile delinquency, gender, religion, family, social stratification, or the like Theory not philosophy of belief  Social theory: What is (de facto) and not what should be (de jure)  Sociological theory and social theory are NOT the same (normative theory)  how things should be  we have no mechanism of dealing with that Value-free (from Weber): Not valueless but, rather, not letting one’s own common world view, one’s personal values, distort one’s objectivity Social Regularities  Social research aims to find patterns of regularity in social life.  Contrast: Physics and sociology:  Physics: Much more constant (e.g., the Newton analysis of gravity)  Sociology: We are free agents and do many independent actions. Yet, a vast number of social norms in Canadian society create a considerable degree of regularity (e.g., we obey traffic laws, men tend to make more money than women).  We observe the social world – we look for patterns – real patetrns (observable) Aggregates, not indivduals Key: The subject matter is not the individual but the aggregate or collective behaviour of many individuals  Aggregate: Formed into a whole, a mass or sum, united, combined, total; an assemblage, a collection of distinct things  Example: The Canadian birth rate is an aggregate measure of births; individual women give birth for a variety of reasons; we study birth rates and not individual births  “I wonder why she did it” à but we are interested in the fact that the most people who commit crimes are young marginalized males  People along the same type of people commit murder and are the victims  SOCIAL FACTS à Durkhiem à a characteristic of an aggregate  Birth rate, or the rate of something  Can only characterize an aggregate  That country has a suicide rate We know the birthrate of an aggregate – we don’t know about any one individual in that group A variable language  We investigate classes or types of individuals—not individuals as a male politician—antifeminism is a variable.  The focus is on a variable (that class or type that varies across an aggregate).  Attributes: Characteristics of people or things: (male and female are attributes of the variable, gender)  Variables (1) : Logical groupings of attributes: Example: The variable gender is made up of the attributes male and female.  Variables (2): Are sets of related values or attributes  Variables are logically related to each other, and attributed to each other. Variable should contain attributes that are logically connected to each other  Gender (variable) Attribute (male)  Colour (variable) Attribute (purple)  A university class could be described in terms of the variable “gender” by observing that, for example, 60% of the class is male, while 40% is female.  Example: Two variables:  Prejudice (variable)  Prejudiced and not prejudiced (attributes)  Education (variable)  Being educated or not educated (attributes)  2 variables – what is the relationship between these variables  How do these two variables relate to one another  The top two à it looks as though educated people are less prejudiced  People with “x” characteristic also have “y” characteristic bottom panel  No correlation A variable language  If we have two variables, we are generally pretty sure that the variables have an effect on each other  Looking at education and prejudice, we say that the degree of prejudice somehow dependent on the level of education; making prejudice an independent variable  Education and Prejudice Education: An independent variable (we assume that the likelihood of being prejudiced is a result of [an effect of] education [a determinant, a factor])  Independent: A variable with values that are not problematical in an analysis, but are taken as a given. An independent (not depending on other causes) variable is presumed to cause or to determine a dependent variable.  Dependent: A variable assumed to depend on or be caused by another (called the independent variable)  What is the relationship of gender and fear of victimization? (Example)  Education and prejudice  (Independent) and (dependent)  prejudiced and discrimination  (independent) & (dependent) September 18, 2013 Some Dialectics of social research  Four broad and interrelated distinctions underlie the variety of research approaches  Dialectics refers to the tension between the following contrasts a. Idiographic and Nomothetic Explanation b. Inductive and Deductive Theory c. Quantitative and Qualitative Data d. Pure and Applied Research Induction and Deduction: Linking Theory and Research  Deduction: testing theories or testing hypothesis  Theory is used to generate ideas about behaviour  research produces evidence for testing theories  Inductions: generating hypothesis  Observations/empirical data used to construct theory  Derive theories from data  The scientific process involves an alternation of deducti
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