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Lecture 1

SOCI 217 Lecture Notes - Lecture 1: Ethnomethodology, Operationalization


Department
Sociology
Course Code
SOCI 217
Professor
Wendy Roth
Lecture
1

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SOCI 217 Roth, Wendy
SAMPLE TOPICS:
**Domestic abuse, homelessness, international students experiences in Canada
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Direct Experience - First hand experience
Indirect Experience- Authority
-Comes from those who hold status, expertise
-Acceptance of new knowledge depend on status of discoverer
-“Halo effect”
-One source of authority is media
Pros & Cons
*Pros -Trusting judgment of experts in field that can benefit human inquiry
*Con -People falsify data making mistakes because of pressure
-Legitimate authorities can error within their own field
-Authority figures can misuse their position of authority
-We may blindly accept opinion of authority
Indirect Experience: Tradition
-Information passed on through socialization
-People who live on east side will never amount to anything
-Knowledge acquired from culture, social institutions, “common knowledge”
(Not question idea that grocery stores are organized, “common knowledge” 
people who grew up with parents will grow up well adjusted in comparison to children at
daycare
Pros & Cons
*Pros -Many things can’t be experienced directly
-Saves us work of starting from scratch in searching for regularities and
understanding
*Cons -Limits inquiry, rarely want to see things in diff. light than perceived by
everybody
-Can lead to prejudice, close-mindedness and cultural relativism
-If we don’t question traditional knowledge we may continue to hold mistaken
information
Direct Experience:

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-Experiential reality/observation
-Information gained through observations, the sense (touch, taste, smell)
-Information gathered through experience
-BUT: be aware that observations don’t necessarily reflect objective reality
-Example: someone with poor hearing perceive a fly as soundless
Common Errors of Inquiry and Possible Safeguards
Possible Safeguards
1. Inaccurate observation
a. Casual, semi-conscious observation  mistake
b. We may miss information – lose accuracy
-Gendered professors being called first or last name – ask students/ teachers  accuracy?
Solutions:
-Conscious and deliberate efforts to make accurate and precise observations
-Use of good and precise measurements – more systematic way to avoid inaccurate
observations
2. Overgeneralizations
a. Assuming that few similar events are evidence of general pattern
Solutions:
-Trying to look at all your data
-If you can, use large and representative samples
-Replication seems whether the same results are sub
3. Selective Observation
a. Concentrating on observations that fit the pattern or theory we’re using to
explain a particular phenomenon, while ignoring other sources of data
Solutions:
4. Illogical Reasoning
a. Reaching a conclusion through means that are not logical
-E.g. Gambler’s fallacy
Solutions:
-Use conscious and explicit systems of logic (eg. Heads/tails on coin)
-Ask if the conclusion necessarily
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How safe are vaccinations for children?
Authority Doctors say vaccinations are safe and that
they’re rigorously tested before theyre
administered to public. My doctor says
they’re safe, too
Tradition Vaccines have been around since 18th
century and have eradicated many diseases
Common Sense Pharmaceutical companies spend a lot of
money on developing vaccines, so they
must be safe
Media Myth I heard a celebrity say that some vaccines
are dangerous. The newspapers suggest that
many people feel the same way
Direct Experience My mother had my siblings and me
vaccinated, and we’re all fine
Scientific The study linking MMR to autism has been
retracted due to its being severely flawed,
and several other studies show no link
between vaccine and developing autism
(eg. Journals published, scientific articles)
SCIENCE
-Science processes are what distinguish social research from other ways of forming
knowledge
-Scientists gather data using specialized technique
-They use data to support or reject theories
-Data are the empirical evidence one gathers according to specific rules or procedures
-Can be quantitative or qualitative (numbers we collect counting people that say
yes vs no – can be words)
-Empirical evidence refers to observations people experience through senses
STEPS IN RESEARCH PROCESS
1. Select Topic
2. Focus Question
3. Design Study
THEORY  4. Collect Data
5. Analyze Data (what did the data say?)
6. Interpret Data
7. Inform Others (Give talks, publish, creating new knowledge to share
with world)
THE SCIENTIFIC COMMUNITY
-A professional community of interacting people who practice science and share
techniques and training, ethical principles, norms and behaviors
-Sociological, psychology, medical community  how big is it? Depends on
field
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