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Carleton University
Political Science
PSCI 2701
Vandna Bhatia

Lecture 1: Epistemology: the study of knowledge (how do we know what we know?) - Authority (parents, teachers, political leaders, etc. tell us things are so) - Faith (knowledge accepted without expectation of tangible evidence) - Experience (personal, second hand, humans tend to generalize based on specific experiences) - Popular culture (media, news, advertisements tell us what we know) - common sense (rules of thumb Normative political analysis: concerned with values and ideals, what one ought to do Empirical political analysis: describing and explaining political phenomena Quantitative analysis: using a large number of cases to form generalizations Qualitative analysis: forms specific analyses from carefully selected cases Standard Science model: positivist epistemology (role of theory deductive, research tests theories), knowledge is comprised of only objective, observable phenomena and is studied using methods from physical sciences Interpretive model (role of theory inductive, research creates theories): post-positivist, one must understand what values/ideas shape perceptions/interpretations; reasons for individuals actions as well as what meanings are attached to such actions; anti-objectivist- all social phenomena are subject to interpretation everything has its own meanings/values for different people Classical period (1850)- deductive reasoning in political philosophy- except Aristotle and Machiavelli who formed descriptions/prescriptions by observing political life in their own place of residence Institutional period (1900)- focus on descriptive research- describing the effect of political institutions and processes Behavioural revolution (1950)- led by merriam and lasswell, focus turned to behaviours of individual political figures as opposed to institutions Scientific Method 1. Regularities: causes and effects, regularities found in the political world; generalizations 2. Verification based on observation: must be observable; empiricism 3. Techniques: rigorous means of observing, recording, and analyzing data 4. Replication: to ensure results occur under different circumstances, must be universally valid 5. Progress: science is cumulative; always moving forward 6. Values: normative and empirical must be kept different, objectivity important in empiricism 7. Knowledge and advocacy: understanding and explanation of a political behaviour must exist before applying measures to societys problems Critiques of political science as science: complexity thesis- social phenomena are too complex to observe regularities; human indeterminancy- humans behaviour cannot be generalized, each individual/circumstance is unique; influence of values- scientific endeavor represents ideologies, values; Post behaviouralism: despite supposed value-neutrality of behaviouralism, research tended to be biased towards status quo/social preservation rather than social change Lecture 2 - each period of political analysis represents a paradigm shift, paradigm being a framework with agreed upon laws, theories, definitions, variables ontology: the study of being- studies the shift in underlying assumptions of how political world works essentialist: social phenomena are external facts (i.e. specific sets of attributes necessary for an entitys identity) anti-foundationalist: social phenomena and meanings are influenced by social actors and their interactions, constant negotiation/revision, knowledge is indeterminate and always changing Epistemology: how we know what we know. Is there a real or objective reality? yes (essentialist): is it observable (positivist) or not completely observable (critical realist)? no (anti-foundationalist): interpretivist- reality comes from understanding individuals values/ideas 5 principles of positivism: Empiricism: only regularities that are observable count as knowledge Deduction: purpose of theory to generate hypothesis Induction: knowledge is generated by collection of facts that sets grounds for generalizations inter-subjectivity: value-free observations that can be seen by others as well non-normative: science focuses on what is, not what should be Critical theory/critical realism: one must be concerned not only with the description of social structures but with how they came to be Steps in social science research: 1. Identify problem 2. Hypothesize cause of problem 3. Define concepts 4. Operationalize variables 5. Gather empirical data 6. Test hypotheses 7. Reflect back on theory 8. Publicize results 9. Replicate results Theories must be: testable: is it possible to make observations supporting/rejecting theory?; logically sound: are assumptions logical/consistent?; communicable: can it be understood by others?; general: is it possible to use the theory to observe phenomena under different circumstances?; parsimonious: simple, easily understood hypothesis: states a relationship between variables, if possible direction of relationship, states a comparison between values of independent variable, empirically testable concept: a label given to a class of phenomena that have something in common a good concept should be observable through direct or empirical methods; should be precise: relating to only one set of phenomena; should have theoretical importance: related to theory and other concepts variables: empirical referents of concepts (i.e. if the concept is pms of Canada, variable would be political party affirmation); have categories, showing variation within concepts; can be dependent or independent, intervening (linking the dependent and independent variables) or antecedent (preceding the independent variable)PSCI2701- week 3 Why use theory? - theories are usually stated in causal mode in social sciences (i.e. an event will occur which causes another event) - lots of stuff about cleavage Characteristics of a useful theory: - parsimonious- simple and straight forward - general - logically sound - testable -communicable Inductive theory development:begin with empirical evidence (data/evidence), then deveop generalizations/conclusions (theories) Deductive theory development: begin with specific hypotheses or assumptions based on theories and test them empirically to see if they hold up Concepts: A label given to a category or class of phenomena that have something in common Variables: Variables are the empirical referents of concepts; observable characteristics of phenomena that can take on more than one value (categories) Independent Variable: the measure used as the proposed causal influence in a relationship Dependent Variable: outcome event or the event to be explained in a research project; research hypothesis: an independent variable(s) act on or affect the dependent variable Research hypothesis: hypothesis implying a relationship among variables Null hypothesis: implying no relationship among variables Causal Models: Bivariate model: two variables, one
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