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lecture 1+2 - research methods.doc

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University of Toronto Scarborough
Andrew Mc Kinnon

Sociological research methodsmemorize the lecture outlinesociologists knowledge came from research the attemptive use of the scientific method science cannot answer all of the questions of life but if you want to figure out how the world works science is the way to go but if you are interested in ultimate issues then you have to look elsewhere for answersUltimate questions science cant answer these questions 1 are all ways of life equally futile or is it possible to live a meaningful life2 Is there an unmoved mover is there a god or a creator3 what happens when we die4 Why is there something instead of nothing5 Do we have a soul and is that soul immortalscience cannot investigate these questions because science is based on empirical gathering facts findings natural facts that exist in the world that is why ultimate questions are called supernatural not in this worldmetaphysical questionsscience is based on collecting concrete evidence ultimate questions there are no factsthe first cause of science is the big bang it happened 137 billion years ago we detected this scientifically the universe began 137 billion years ago prior to this there was nothing no space nothing the big bang creates something science can tell us the big bang happened but science CANT tell us what caused it you have to look at faith to do this science wont answer this maybe religion or philosophy can answer it if you seekA science and experience the most problem in science is experience filters filters are perceptions our experiences in life shape the way we see the world so its difficult to be objective especially when it comes to scientific issuesthe greenhouse scandal natural science is called gaming the system this happens because ideology is shaping scientific investigation these people are environmentalists so theres gotta be global warming and if there isnt well fudge the data up to make sure the world thinks there is a problem in earth with global warmingresearch filters perception values filters perceptionsthe world behaves what it ought to behave but an ought is often a moral judgement and its very difficult to keep those out of scientific research ex of global warming people that desired global warming so they faked data sociologists also want to have the world so its very difficult to keep these ideas out ofB two types of sociological studies descriptive studies static and trend descriptive studiesdescriptive studies just describe the world as it exists theres no attempt to explain causally that are responsible for certain social outcomes here is an example of a static study snapshot studies there is no attempt to explain or identify the causeex of static study collecting information to draw out the number of murdersbut it doesnt attempt to say what caused those murders another example infant mortality rates death of infant before 6 months of age what is the death of infant mortality in 2008 this is a descriptive static study another example the population of scarborough in 2010 the number of students attending UTSC in 2010sdescriptive trend studies look at changes over time BUT you dont explain them ex look at divorce rate over a given time period 19522002 The divorce rate climbed from 15 to 50 descriptive trend studies doesnt attempt to study WHY the divorce rate grows you just present the factssecond type of study is EXPLANATORY studies explanatory studies is a study that explains they try to identify causes and associations why something is taking placeExplanatory Studies1The children of upper income parents are more likely to attend university2urbanites are more likely to commit suicide than ruralites3government funding for healthcare causes infant mortality rates to decline4does the death penalty cause murder rates to decline is capital punishment cause murder to go down does it act as a Deterrent NO IT DOESNT look at America for example5Does the economy influence rates of common crimeya it does ex when you have a recession common crimes increaseC Social Accountingdescriptive studies and explanatory studies can be used to develop government policiesso policies are called social accountingstatic descriptive and trend descriptive studies are both used for these policiescensus specializes in descriptive studies thats why its against the law to refuse to fill out the censusex census says Canadian population is aging proportion of old people over 65 years old is increasing relative to everybody else This trend started after WW2reasons for thisa people are living longerdeveloping societies are aging societies underdeveloped societies dont have thisb its also aging because of what happened after WW2 during the war hundreds of thousands of young Canadian men were fighting in the East against Japan and in Europe against Germany young men were overseas and young women were left by themselves and then when boys come back home theres babies everywhere the baby boom happened the proportions of babies relative to population increased dramatically and demographers sociologists that study population called this a population bulgeso it was a very young society back then so this was very good for business that make diapers and baby clothes but these babies eventually become children and then you need to build primary schools so this population bulge moves through the life cycle now these baby boomers are getting old thats why we have an aging society in fact UTSC was made to accommodate the baby boomers when they were in university so this is how they influence policies the Canadian pension plan is going broke in USA its called social security because you have a large number of people drawing money out of the system due to these baby boomers
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