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Lecture 1

SOC221H5 Lecture Notes - Lecture 1: Data Analysis, Social Class

Course Code
Feng Chen

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Social Inquiry Introduction
1. Key Concepts
a. Methods and data
i. Evidence. Data is information collected in ways that make it trustworthy.
To make the information trust worthy, social scientists rely on social
research methods.
ii. Good vs bad data
1. Anecdotes, intuition, assumptions, etc. There are generally bad as
data. However, they are actually what many people use to
establish what they “know”.
b. Research
i. Social research finds new facts about the social world. This allows us to
learn what the social world is like. Social research also seeks to explain
what is happening in the social world. Explanations provide a deeper
understanding than a description.
c. Relationships Between Data and Knowledge
i. To answer questions accurately, we need info
ii. Info that is collected and organized systematically is data
iii. Data provide the evidence to evaluate whether a claim is true or not
d. Quantitative Data
i. Numbers
e. Qualitative Data
i. Text non-numerical
f. Methods are Good for Producing Knowledge
i. Much of what we know is based on what we have heard from others in a
social setting. This can be wrong.
ii. We also know through direct experience through observation
2. Foundations of Social Research
a. The scientific enterprise consists of
i. Theory
ii. Data collection
iii. Data analysis
iv. Implications of fata analysis for theory
3. Concepts, Variable and Attributes
a. Concepts are ideas or common understandings of things in the social world that
we want to study
b. In order to understand what a variable is, we have to first consider what
attributes are
i. Attributes are characteristic or qualifies of a person or a thing
c. Variables are commonly accepted groupings of attributes where a person or a
thing can vary in the attributes that apply to them
d. Social class depends on you socioeconomic status
e. Sometimes research does not involve concepts
f. Some research works only with studying variables and their attribute
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