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Lecture 1: Introduction to Social Research Methods

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University of Toronto Scarborough
Katie Stuart- Lahman

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 observations 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 study.  Making claims with logical and empirical (observation) support.  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.  Can include:  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 does).  Studying variables.  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  Theory 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:  Deductive  Inductive  Level of social reality that is it explaining.  Macro  A big group  Example: All universities in Canada  Micro  A smaller group.  Example: Just SOCB05 students at UTSC  Meso  An average sized group.  Example: University of Toronto  Whether it is formal (general) or substantive (specific)  Example:  Why does a war start? – General/Formal  Why did WW2 start? – Specific/Substantive  Falsification – Doing research to prove that past research is incorrect.  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:  Quantitative  Trying to put numbers on certain phenomenon, finding percentages of people.  Qualitative  Using peoples words. Using interviews, etc.  Epistemology o What type of knowledge do you want to produce, and from what background. Research Design  This involves: o Defining the problem and developing a re
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