SOCB05 – Lecture 1 – May 9 2013
Introduction to Social Research Methods
Why Study Research Methods?
We are always consuming research.
o We need to be able to question and assess the research
We produce research
o We gather other people’s opinions about issues
o We draw conclusions about persons or events on the basis of our own
What is Social Research?
Systematic and scientific collection of information about human social life.
Social research has two main components:
o Scientifically Studied.
Have a hypothesis, observations, a plan, rules to follow, etc.
Addressing topics with conscious, deliberate, and rigorous
Making claims with logical and empirical (observation)
Not based in tradition
Not based on authority
Not just causal human inquiry either
o Social Phenomenon
Any group of people that have similar characteristics.
How people think and behave
The groups and entities they form
How people interact and relate to each other
How people and groups adapt to societal change
Study aggregates, not individuals (which is what psychology
Examples: Gender, race, age, etc.
Usually explaining social regularities. Social norms exist and
their patterns can be observed.
Outliers do not change the pattern.
Examples: Immigration patterns, birth rates, death rates, etc.
Components of Research
o Highlights or explains something that you might not see normally, or
might find confusing.
o Help answer “why” questions.
Example: Why are so many people unemployed in capitalist
societies? Marxist theory helps answer this, and helps guide
research. Takes it back to historical time periods.
o Can be categorized by: Direction of reasoning:
Level of social reality that is it explaining.
A big group
Example: All universities in Canada
A smaller group.
Example: Just SOCB05 students at UTSC
An average sized group.
Example: University of Toronto
Whether it is formal (general) or substantive (specific)
Why does a war start? – General/Formal
Why did WW2 start? – Specific/Substantive
Falsification – Doing research to prove that past research is
Methods and Techniques
o General approaches to studying your research topic
o Establishes how you will go about finding you data
o Two main forms:
Trying to put numbers on certain phenomenon, finding
percentages of people.
Using peoples words. Using interviews, etc.
o What type of knowledge do you want to produce, and from what
o Defining the problem and developing a re