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CMNS 262 Study Guide - Midterm Guide: Social Fact, Paradigm Shift, Scientific Method

Course Code
CMNS 262
Katherine Reilly
Study Guide

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Study Guide
What is research? Is the search for the paranormal (ghosts) research? How so?
How people encounter the world around them
How you carry out the encounter
The story you end up telling about the encounter
What is quantitative research?
The world is ‘out there’ waiting to be discovered.
Data can be gathered that will allow us to predict outcomes with some
The ‘rules of the game’ are stable, so we can establish clear ‘facts’.
The researcher observes from outside the game so as not to disturb the
‘reality’ and ‘facts’
We say this research is quantitative because it often relies on numbers
What is qualitative research?
The world is ‘in here’ and we must engage with it. We may alter that world
when we do so.
The focus is on the significance of a phenomenon rather than its ‘truth’.
The impression we get of the world is our own and may differ from that of
The data we gather may lead to understanding but not to prediction.
Action may cause change
We say this research is qualitative because it often relies on attributes
What is a paradigm?
A philosophical and theoretical framework of a scientific school or discipline within
which theories, laws, and generalizations and the experiments performed in support
of them are formulated; broadly: a philosophical or theoretical framework of any kind
What is a paradigm shift?
What is a research paradigm?
A set of choices about:
Ontology – nature of reality
What’s out there to know? What is the nature of the reality to be investigated?
Is the world a stable place awaiting discovery (a set of communicative practices),
or is it an unstable place in which we intervene when we do research (a set of
communicative performances)?
Epistemology – if/how reality can be known
What and how can we know about that reality? (Epistemology)
Is it possible to uncover the truth? Or do we only ever form opinions about the
significance of a phenomenon?
Methodology – how data is gathered and analyzed
How can we go about acquiring that knowledge?

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Is it best to gather statistics? Or should we gather our impressions?
Representation – the story we tell
How do we represent the knowledge we produce? Paint a picture? Make a
graph? Numbers? Words?
Our answers to these questions will determine the sort of research that we do, and
are what separates the sciences, social sciences, humanities and arts.
Define each of the terms in this chart and then fill in the blanks.
Positivism Anti-Positivism Post-Positivism
Constructivism anti-positivism
Critical Theory et. Al. Not to cover in the course
Why is it useful to know about research paradigms?
Evaluating other people’s work
Situating your own arguments
Thinking more clearly
“Reality is singular, a priori and objective”
The truth is out there to be discovered.
Goal: Prediction & Control
Foundationalist: the world exists independently of our knowledge of it.

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Searches for ‘the truth’ and ‘law-like generalizations’
Seeks to remove bias from explanations
Uses deductive methodology to eliminate incorrect hypothesis
Explanations rely on ‘social facts,’ ideal types, categories
Social facts are approximations of a complex world
Since explanations rely on these social facts, they can never be
accurate, so the project is flawed
It is impossible to be unbiased – we are all always ‘biased’
Removing values and beliefs from research is dehumanizing
Why did Prof. Reilly start with positivism?
Metaphysics versus Science
Enlightenment and Scientism
Can be seem as in 3 circumstances
Positivism was a reaction against Christian metaphysics of the Middle Ages in Europe.
Explain. What did we gain from this shift? What did we lose from this shift?
Explanations are based on the argumentation
What is the scientific method?
What is the link between the scientific method and deduction?
Scientific Method is based on deduction.
Theory Hypothesis Oberservation Confirmation
Relies on:
Controlled experiments
If you don’t eliminate the other possible variables, you don’t know it’s the fact that X
causes Y
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