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Social Research Methods (week 1).docx

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SOCY 210
Vincent F Sacco

How We Know What We Know  Agreement with others  Examination of best practises  Empirical questions o Using our senses o Can be answered by comparing to reality  Belief o Little is based on personal experience  Society o Process of learning  Tradition o Inherited culture with accepted knowledge of the workings of the world o Knowledge is cumulative  Inherited information and understanding lead to knowledge o What we know in context to where we are now o Socialization  Social institutions  Religious beliefs  There is always something that contradicts traditional knowledge  There is no base for tradition  No accuracy, no confidence  Direct experience o Observation  When experience conflicts with what everyone else knows, there is a high chance we will surrender in favour of the agree  Authority o We trust those who have special training and expertise in a given subject  Knowledge becomes less reliable when authority or experts speak outside of their realm of expertise o Those with status  Celebrities  Problems: the media usually tells stories quickly, and find people who provide the fastest answer  Expertise can just mean availability o People can become authority by being a victim  Using lived experiences  These are starting positions for our own inquiry o Can lead us to start in the wrong point or push us in the wrong direction  Level of confidence of what we know o How do we increase our confidence of what we know  Use different investigations to find the same answer  Common Sense o Self validating  People make things more complicated on their own so common sense is blurred  Sociologists challenge common sense assumptions  Eg. Poverty, the answer should be common sense  There is still no solution, it is not common sense Looking for Reality  Criteria must be met before scientists accept reality of something they haven’t personally experienced o Scientific Assertion  Logical and empirical support  It must make sense  Not contradict actual observation o Must make scientific measures  Epistemology  The science of knowing  Methodology  The science of finding out  Social theory aims to discuss and explain what is not what should be  Theories o Explanations trying to explain classes of events and patterns  Paradigms o Collection of theories o Share common assumptions and values  Sociology has multiple paradigms Ordinary Human Inquiry  Causal and Reasoning o Future circumstances are caused by present ones  Eg, Getting an education can affect our income in the future  Probabilistic Reasoning o Effects occur more often when causes occur  Eg. Studying produces good grades in most cases  Prediction o Based on context of knowledge and understanding  Understand why things are related to one another and why certain pattern occurs, you can predict better than with just observation Errors in Inquiry  Inaccurate Observations o Most of our daily observations are casual o Semi-conscious  Scientific observation is conscious  Overgeneralization o We assume that a few similar events are evidence of a general pattern  Tendency to over generalize is greatest when there is pressure to arrive at a general understanding  Media portrayals  How scientists avoid overgeneralization o Replication  Repeating a study to see whether the same results are produced every time  Selective Observation o Using a general understanding of a pattern to focus on events that might fit that pattern o Confirmation bias  Concentrating on observations that fit the pattern or theory we are using to explain phenomenon  Eg. How racial and ethnic prejudices develop o Cold reading  20 questions  using obvious information that everyone can agree on  broad generalizations Hot reading  Doing research before you meet the person  Seem more informed than they actually are  Illogical Reasoning o Gamblers fallacy  We assume that consistent good or bad luck will foreshadow its opposite o Regression Fallacy  Getting a high mark on a test (extreme score) is likely to be followed by the less extreme  Extreme rate of violence occurs  Causes strict rules  Crime rates drop  Not because of the rules, but because it is less extreme than a major rate of crime o Sharp Shooter Fallacy  We work backwards  Instead of having someone aim at a target and measure accuracy, we draw the target after they shot and see where they shot most  Coincidence of where they shot most  Coincidence  Meeting someone you have a lot in common with  Very common for people who are within the same age and same generation  27 club, All celebrities die at 27  except the ones that didn’t…  Those that did, were mere coincidence Views of Reality  Pre-Modern View o Has guided most of human history o Early ancestors assumed that they saw things as they really were o Either one or the other  Modern View o Accepts diversity as legitimate o Acknowledges human subjectivity  Post Modern View o Reality only exists from our own point of view o Nothing is “real” o No answer to the question, just different points of view  Post modern view is problematic for scientists  They are human and bring along personal opinions and ideas that may direct them in a specific direction with their observations and how they explain it o No objective reality Foundations of Social Science  2 pillars of science o logic
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