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SOAN 3070 (66)
Lecture

WEEK ONE.docx

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Department
Sociology and Anthropology
Course Code
SOAN 3070
Professor
Jennifer Long

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WEEK ONE­ Being and Knowing Objectives Ontological issues Fundamental assumptions that social science research is based The relationship between theory and research Epistemological issues  Difference between qualitative and quantitative research Ontology Ontology: is the theory of ‘being’ Being­reality­existence What assumptions of we make about the nature of reality? What assumptions do we make about what we can or cannot know? What assumptions do we make about how we know the world and learn about the world? Ontological Positions Objectivist: social phenomena have a reality independent of our perceptions. Social reality is fixed,  we have little or no control over it. Constructionist: what passes for reality is merely a set of mental constructions. We create our  social worlds through our actions, in particular through negotiation.  Alternatives to Scientific Knowledge vs. Scientific Knowledge Chicken soup helps get rid of a cold. I live              at Swiss Chalet when I’m sick. The newspaper quoted a doctor as saying              that weak magnets can be used to heal             many illnesses. I bought stock in magnets. Last night I was going for a walk and I saw the accident. The car hit the cyclist. The             car was dark brown and now I’m afraid of            brown cars. If you work hard, you can get ahead. Knowledge can be based on: 1. Tradition 2. Authority (researches, etc) 3. Newspapers (media myths) 4. Observation 5. Overgeneralization 6. Illogical reasoning (premature closure) … or Scientific investigation What motivates social researchers? Social research arises from a variety of motives Motivation: to assess the adequacy of a particular social theory. Ex// theory of crime of prejudice Motivation: to gather information to create theories. Ex// how are the homeless treated by the public Motivation: fact­finding or exploration. Ex// how much better are Guelph instructors than Laurier  instructor? Social research arises from a variety of motives Motivation: driven by a pressing social problem. Ex// understanding social crises associated with  modern life Motivation: personal experience. Ex// my own doctoral research Regardless of the motivation, the data are viewed in relation to theory in order to “make sense of it  all” Theory: An explanation of observed regularities or patterns Specifies how concepts relate to eachother Ex// Why do people commit crimes?, How does the media affect us?, How is our identity shaped by  culture? Theory is a frame at how we look at things, gives us direction. The relationship between theory and research One way to conduct social scientific inquiry through deduction Using deduction, one beings with a theory or explanation for something, then goes out into the  world and tests it Another way to conduct inquiry is by using induction Here one begins by gathering or examining data, and then tries to derive theory or explanation from  the data Sometimes inductive research is iterative: The researcher goes back and forth from the data to the theory or explanation Deriving theories or explanations from qualitative data to the theory or explanation Deductive vs. Inductive Deductive Inductive Step 1 Hypothesis observations Step 2 Observations Finding a pattern Step 3 Accept/ reject hypothesis Tentative conclusion Epistemology vs. Methodology Epistemology: the science of knowing; systems of knowledge            Versus Methodology: the science of finding out; procedures from scientific investigation Epistemological Positions:  Positivism Belief: social scientists should use the same methods of inquiry that are used in the natural  sciences Empiricism: knowledge must be base don information gathered through the senses A deductive approach (hypothesis testing) can be used to acquire knowledge Interpretivism Researchers should use inductive methods to try to grasp the subjective meanings of peoples  actions Actions should be viewed from the point of view of the social actors. Ex// the people studied Researchers shou
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