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SOC100H5 Lecture Notes - Antipositivism, Formal System, Participant Observation

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Suzanne Casimiro

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September 16th
Sociological Investigation: Methods of Sociological Research
The Basics
1. Apply the sociological perspective – imagination, curiosity
2. Be curious and ask questions
In order to answer our questions, there are many forms of “truth” – scientific truth
-belief or faith – ex. religion
-expert testimony
-simple agreement
-science (sociology) – truth is out there, we need to seek it
Science as One Form of Truth
-logical system that bases knowledge on direct systematic observation
i. stands apart from faith, belief, or conventional wisdom
-rests on empirical evidence: information we can verify by our senses by “seeing”,
“hearing”, or “touching” – data collection: produce evidence to support/not
support claims to our social world
i. scientific truth – challenges our common sense
Common Sense vs. Scientific Evidence
-poor people are far more likely than rich people to break the law
i. might be their common sense – sociological imagination says to question
this statement: apply theory and undertake research to find evidence to
support or not support the claim
-most people marry because they are in love
-poor people don’t want to work
-can disregard common sense claims by scientific research
3 Ways to Do Sociology
1. Scientific sociology – positivist sociology
a. based on systematic observations of social behaviour on the basis of empirical
b. positivism assumes the objective really exists, we just need to find the truth
c. discover the reality by gathering those facts and figures (senses etc.)
2. Interpretive sociology
a. shared values and feeling that people have and trying to study their belief
3. Critical sociology
a. like critical conflict theory – is about change and conflict intention
1. Scientific/Positivist Sociology
-systematic observation of social behaviour
-concept: a mental construct that represents some part of the world in a
simplified form – ex. society, family, love (we mentally construct when we think
of the word or object)
-variable: a concept whose values change from case to case – ex. different castes
i. use of variables depends on your measurement
-measurement: a procedure for determining the value of a variable in a specific
case – ex. can determine social class of someone by looking at their clothes,
their house, their car, income, occupation, etc.
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