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Lecture 2

SOC221H5 Lecture Notes - Lecture 2: Scientific Method, Social Theory, De Jure

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Shyon Baumann

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SOC221 Lecture 2
Knowledge can be produced through social science
Science is one way for producing knowledge
o Science is a major avenue for producing knowledge
Only one form of knowledge production
Not science: philosophy, religion, tradition, etc.
Science refers to a system of acquiring knowledge based on the
scientific method, as well as to the organized body of knowledge
gained through such research
o Method and what that method produces
Is social science really “science”?
o Yes
But there is a clear difference in the kind of science done
in natural sciences (chem, physics, biology)
o Social science deals with people, but uses lots of the same logics
Methods are different : astronomy is similar to physics
(use scientific measurements…we cant use those to study
o Social science evaluates theories with evidence collected by
What are methods good for?
Without methods, we observe things in ways that are arochrome
Methods are good for producing knowledge

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Much of what we know is based on what we have heard from others
in a social setting. Sometimes this knowledge is wrong
We also know through direct experience through observation
Science offers a special approach to the creation of knowledge
through personal experience by using methods to regulate and
structure that experience
Using Science to generate knowledge
A scientific assertion much have both logical and empirical support
o Empirical = what are things actually like? What is the reality? We
need to check it with evidence
Ex: wealth inequality is increasing over time
o Logic occupational trends, technological changes, trade
policies, trends in marriage patterns, tax policies, all can produce
stronger dichotomization of wealth
o Empirical support tax return analysis and other survey
analysis confirms growth in wealth inequality over time
Epistemology, Methodology, and Methods
o How do we know what we know?
o The pros and cons of different empirical methods.
Understanding advantages and disadvantages of different
o Specific data and collection techniques (surveys, interviews, etc.)

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Non-Science ways of knowing
Ordinary Human Inquiry
o Own personal experience
o The way the things have always been done
o We accept them as knowledge
o Frequent way that we know things (somebody who is convincing
tells us and we believe them)
Ex. Families we believe what our parents say because
they are authority
Errors in Ordinary Human Inquiry
Inaccurate observations
o You can’t observe race, it’s not always obvious
o Makes broad claims of the one observation they have
Selective observations
o Prone to paying attention to examples that confirm what we
already think
Illogical reasoning
o We assume things to be true or related when there’s no logical
basis for it
Contrasts of scientific knowledge and orginary human inquiry
Scientific Knowledge :
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