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Lecture 3

SOAN_2120 - Week 3 LEC 1.docx

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Sociology and Anthropology
SOAN 2120
Scott Schau

1/21/2013 1:28:00 PM SOAN*2120 – Week 3 LEC 1 Asia Barclay Monday, January 21, 2013 Definitions Unit of Analysis The unit of analysis is the basic entity of object: -About which generalizations are to be made based on an analysis, and -For which data have been collected (i.e. the central focus of the study or an analysis) Unit of Observation -What is directly observed- where the data is collected from -can be the same as the unit of analysis, but not necessarily. Common Units of Analysis Individuals: -often characterized in terms of membership to social groupings. e.g: race, class, gender, etc. -Most common unit of analysis Groups: -can be units of analysis when we study the characteristics that belong to a group -What we often derive the charactertics of social groups from those of their individuals members E.g. black couples, rich families Organizations (mainly a type of a group) E.g. corporations, church, congregations, universities, wtc. Social artifacts -Products of social beings and their interactions -Can range from concrete objects (books, buildings) to social interactions (weddings, friendships, riots, hijackings) Identifying Units of Analysis -Trick to identifying the unit if analysis: look at what/whom the attributes of the variable refer to -Is it an individual, group, social artifact -Examples: Single/married men Developed/developing countries Canadian/US newspaper Individualistic fallacy -Attributing something a group based on the observed behavior of characteristics of individuals Example: -estimating the percentage of individuals in a country who favour democratic government and taking this as an indicator of the degree that he political system in that country is democratic Ecological Fallacy -Assumption that something learned about an ecological units says something about the individuals making up the unit -“Ecological”: something larger than individuals (e.g. groups, sets, systems) -despite this risk social scientists often must address research questions with ecological analysis -Appropriate data may not be available (expensive to collect) Fallacies example #1 th -Emile Durkeim found that in the 19 C Europe, suicide rates were significantly higher in countries with a greater proportion of protestants, as compared to catholic and Jewish practitioners. He then concluded that protestants are thus more likely to committee suicide than Catholics and Jews -What can be said that his conclusions? -Could alternative conclusions have been drawn from his data? -correlation no direct cause and effect Another error is Reduction -seeing & explaining complex phenomena in terms of a single, narrow concept or set of concepts -“reduce” what is reality is complex to a simple explanation -suggests that particular units of analysis is more variable are more relevant than others. Another factor: Time -observe more or less at one time or over a long period -plays many roles in design and execution of research -affects generalizability of research findings 3 types of longitudinal studies -Cohort &trend studies uncover only net changes -panel studies give full picture of shifts among variables -all 3 have advantages describing processes over time -Advantage comes at a cost: -Time & money 9espically in a large-scale survey) Approximating longitudinal studies -longitudinal studies not always practical or feasible -often can use cross-sectional data to draw conclusions about dynamic processes -Cross-sectional data imply processes over time: -Basis of simple logic -logical inferences when time order of variables in clear -Age differences -Recall (“life history”) research strategies -Content of each study -Method used to study the chosen topic -exploring, describing, or explaining or combo -sources of data -unit of analysis -dimension of time relevant, if so
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