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Intro to Course - Lecture 1.pdf

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Sociology 2206A/B
Donna Maynard

Lecture 1 - Chapter 1. What is a Theory? A system of ideas that are used to explain the causes and/or consequences of (social) phenomena. A Theory has 3 main components: 1) Definitions: What do the key terms in a theory mean? For example, in Durkheim's suicide theory, one would have to define suicide, social integration, anomie, etc. 2) Description of the phenomena of interest. Describe everything about situation/test you're conducting. 3) Relational Statements: Theories suggest ways that concepts are related to each other. E.g. As social integration increases, the suicide rate decreases. There are 2 types of Relational Statements: - Deterministic - in which the two concepts/variables always go together. E.g. As social integration increases, the suicide rate decreases. - Probabilistic - in which the two concepts/variables regularly (but not always) go together. With this type of relational statement, terms such as more likely, less likely are often used when relating concepts/variables. E.g. suicide becomes less likely as integration increases. NOTE: Probabilistic relational statements are more commonly used in social research than deterministic relational statements. "Size" of a Theory. + Grand Theories: - General, abstract: - All encompassing with regards to time and space. E.g. structural functionalism, symbolic interactionism, critical theory, post structuralism, post modernism. These are very useful as a way of seeing the world but not very useful for directly guiding research. + Middle Range Theories (Merton): - More limited in scope and less abstract. They tend to refer to a more specific time/place/situation. E.g. Durkheim's Suicide Theory, Merton's Anomie Theory. What is Research? This is a mixture of observations and interpretations that either - sheds light on an existing theory, or - helps to build new ones. How do we move between Theory and Research? - Deductive Approach: Theory => Observations/Findings. - Inductive Approach: Observations/Findings => Theory. + Deductive Approach: Steps to Deductive Research: 1) Theory -> 2) Hypothesis -> 3) Data Collection -> 4) Findings -> 5) Hypotheses confirmed or rejected -> 6) Possible revision of theory. +Inductive Approach: Steps to Inductive Research: 1) Gather data -> 2) Make statements or generalizations about data -> 3) Derive explanatory theory from these statements. NOTE: Inductive approach is also called Grounded Theory because it starts "on the ground" with observations. Comparisons between Inductive and Deductive Approach - Deductive approach is more commonly used than the inductive approach. - Just one approach is almost never used. Research is conducted going back and forth between inductive and d
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