All of September`s lecture notes

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15 Feb 2011
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Nomothetic to explain social variations through the identification of social patterns. Nomos
= law (the law like or regular patterns of things that people do in everyday life) in Greek.
We describe these regularities by working with concepts. These concepts are defined as
variables. A variable =an empirically observable characteristic or some phenomena that
can take on more than one value (pg. 7?). In order for a variable to be a variable, it has to
vary in some way. It has to have different values in some way. So for a concept to be useful it
has to take on different states or values or characteristics otherwise we just have a
constant. Without variation, a characteristic cannot be used to make comparisons.
The values making up the characteristics of variables are called attributes. An attribute is a
specific value on a variable.
The indicator of a variable is the questionAre you blablabla
oSocial status can be a variable. Its attributes can be low status, middle or upper
class. And an indicator could be asking someone are you low, middle or upper class?
oReligiosity is a variable. How religious are you?
oForeign policy attitudes can be a variable and an attribute can be isolationist.
oSupport or opposition for gay rights?
A comparison or difference of some kind. Why is that group of individuals different than that
group? Its a natural and straightforward activity. For example, male vs. femalesome men
are this way some women are that way We make these comparisons quite readily and
As social scientists, we generally view these differences to be the way they are because of an
unknown cause. Men are this way because theres a cause. Theres a logical implication.
Things do not just happen, theres a reason for it.
Bryan suggests that there are stages for this process (from textbook)
Prof thinks there are four stages to the traditional image of science:
1) “Ideas/Interest.What causes Y?
o2) This leads to the Theoretical Understanding that X causes Y
3) This leads to the Hypothesis Y = f(X)
4) This leads to an observation the hypothesis testing that Y ?-? f(X)
K & W: A theory is a conjecture. That one variable is causally related to another variable.
Moreover, Bryan says that when we attempt to create a possible explanation (pg. 17)......An
explanation tends to suggest plausible...
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