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SOC221H5 (196)
Lecture 2

week 2 Readings

7 Pages
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University of Toronto Mississauga
Mary Jo Nadeau

Chapter 1 (p. 1 – 9) SOC221 – Reading Notes Chapter 2 (p. 36 – 41) Lecture 1 Chapter 16 (p. 332-42 + 349- Chapter 1 – Doing Social Research (1-9) 50) • Social Research: a process in which people combine a set of principles, outlooks, and ideas (ie methodology) with a collection of specific practices, techniques, and strategies (ie a method of inquiry) to produce knowledge Alternatives to Social Research o Authority  When accepting something as being true because someone in a position of authority says it is true or because it’s in an authoritative publication  Limitations: • It’s easy to overestimate the expertise of others • Authorities may not agree, and all authorities may not be equally dependable • Authorities may speak on fields they know little about, or they may be plain wrong • Misuse of authority – orgs + inds use their authority to convince others to agree w/ them on something o Tradition  ‘the authority of the past’  Accepting something as being true b/c ‘it’s the way things have always been’  Even if trad knowledge was once true, it can become distorted as it’s passed on, and soon is no longer true o Common Sense  Most commonsense beliefs are false  It’s valuable in daily living, but it allows logical fallacies to slip into thinking  Common sense can originate in tradition  Useful and sometimes correct, but also contains errors, misinfo, contradiction + prejudice o Media Myths  Television portrayals of crime and other things don’t accurately reflect social reality  Competing interests use the media to win public support o Personal Experience  Has a strong impact and is a powerful source of knowledge  Can lead you astray  Errors: • Overgeneralization: when some evidence supports a belief, but a person falsely assumes that it applies to many other situations, too • Selective Observation: the tendency to take notice of certain people or events based on past experience or attitudes • Premature Closure: it occurs when a person feels he or she has the answers and doesn’t need to listen, seek info, or raise questions any longer • Halo Effect: when a person overgeneralizes from what he or she accepts as being highly positive or prestigious and lets its strong rep ‘rub off’onto other areas (judging a writer from a prestigious uni just b/c they go there, not based on their own merit) How Science Works o Science  Data: the empirical evidence or info that a person gathers carefully according to established rules or procedures; can be quantitative or qualitative  Qualitative Data: info in the form of words, pics, sounds, objects, etc  Quantitative Data: info in the form of numbers  Empirical Evidence: the observations that people experience through their senses (touch, sight, etc), these can be direct or indirect o The Scientific Community  Scientific Community: a collection of people who share a system of rules and attitudes that sustain the process of producing scientific knowledge o The Scientific Method andAttitude  The Scientific Method: the process of creating new knowledge using the ideas, techniques, and rules of the scientific community o JournalArticles in Science  Very cautiously screened and reviewed by respected scientists who don’t know who the author is (blind review) • Steps in the Research Process a. Select a topic – a general area of study b. Focus the topic into a specific research question for a study i. Review past research/literature on a topic or question ii. Develop a possible hypothesis c. Develop a detailed plan on how to carry out the study d. Collect the data or evidence e. Analyze the data f. Interpret the data g. Inform others by writing a report that describes the study’s bkg, how you conducted it, and what you discovered Chapter 2 – Theory and Social Research (36-41) The Three MajorApproaches to Social Science o Paradigm: a general organizing framework for social theory and empirical research. It includes basic assumptions, major questions to be answered, models of good research practice and theory, and methods for finding the answers to questions o PositivistApproach  Positivism sees social science research as basically the same as natural science research; assumes that social reality’s made up on objective facts that value-free researchers can measure + that the researchers can use stats to test causal theories  Emphasizes getting objective measures of ‘hard facts’in the form of numbers  Put a great value on the principle of replication • Replication: the principle that scientists must be able to repeat scientific findings in multiple studies to have a high level of confidence that the findings are true  It’s Nomothetic: an approach based on laws or one that operates according to a system of laws  Tend to use ‘experiment’as the ideal method for research + usually have quantitative studies o InterpretiveApproach  Human social life is qualitatively diff from other things studied by science  Believe it’s necessary to create a special type of science based on the uniqueness of humans + that can capture human social life  Most adopt constructivist view of social reality • View holds that human social life is based less on objective, hard, factual reality than on the ideas, beliefs, and perceptions that people hold about reality  Idiographic: an approach that focuses on creating detailed descriptions of specific events in particular time periods and settings. It rarely goes beyond empirical generaliza
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