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Soc 101: Exam #2 Summary Notes

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SOC 101
Sara Cumming

Soc 101 Winter 2012 Functionalist researcher = interested in the smooth functioning of society; how roles and shared values promote equilibrium Concerned with how families socialize children into their appropriate social roles Conflict theorists = concerned with the struggle over scarce resources by different groups in society and how elites control the less powerful Interested in how families cope with economic strains NOTE: both functionalist and conflict perspectives are macrosociological theories o Ask large questions Symbolic interactionism = interested in face-to-face encounters and the meaning that people use to facilitate social life (ex. how immigrant families negotiate their sense of identity in new surroundings) Microsociological perspective Feminist theorists = interested in examining issues pertaining to gender and inequality Ex. examine child-rearing practices to determine if they promote gender inequality or equality Queer theorists = interested in troubling (problematizing) taken-for-granted concepts such as the term normal; they seek to expose these concepts as socially constructed and as regulatory Ex. question the idea of what constitutes a normal family by investigating diff. family forms Quantitative and Qualitative Approaches Quantitative = numerical data o Converting aspects of social life into numbers; relationship between sets of numbers o Ex. answers on a questionnaire can be converted to numerical form then compared, etc. o Allows for larger samples Qualitative = non-numerical data o Focus is on rich detail (nothing of numerical form) o Tends to have smaller samples (b/c they are more in depth) o More expensive than quantitative studies o Researchers themselves are the instruments (not surveys, etc.) o Ex. interviews, observations, etc. Systems of Reasoning Inductive logic = moves from data to the formation of a theory o Researcher gathers info about a topic before developing theories to explain it Deductive logic = moves from theory to the formulation of hypotheses for testing o Researchers develop a theory to explain or predict a pattern; then they test their theory to see if the expected pattern transpires NOTE: researchers who use a qualitative approach often use inductive reasoning NOTE: researchers who favour a quantitative approach typically use deductive reasoning Essential Research Concepts 1. Hypotheses Quantitative study = you usually have a theory that you want to test Hypothesis = tentative statement about a particular relationship (between objects, people, or groups of people) that can be tested empirically (if .... then .... statement) 2. Independent and Dependent Variables Variables = characteristics used to measure relationships between objects or (groups of) people o Independent variables = can be varied or manipulated by researchers o Dependent variables = the reaction of the participants to this manipulation Operational definition = description of how a variable is measured o for variables that are difficult to measure (ex. gender inequality) 3. Validity and Reliability validity = the accuracy of a given measurement reliability = the consistency of a given result o ex. when you measure gender equality, do you consistently get the same results? 4. Correlation and Causality correlation = a measure of how strongly 2 variables are related to each other causality = relationship in which one variable causes a change in another variable spurious correlation = false correlation between 2 or more variables, even though it appears true o occurs when 1 variable seems to produce a change in another, but the correlation is false 2 5. Research Population research population = a group of people that a researcher wishes to learn something about sample = a subset of the larger research population (sample drawn from research population) o the results from the sample apply to the larger population (because the sample is representative of the larger population being studied) Research Methods 1. Surveys respondents answer pre-set questions often used in large-scale research projects good for asking about what people do/think, not why people do things or think a certain way 3 types of surveys: 1. self-administered questionnaires = can be mailed to participants at low cost a. used mainly in quantitative research b. questions list several possible answers (MC) and respondent checks off answers c. ex. Census of Population 2. telephone surveys = questions are asked of respondents over the telephone a. closed-ended questions = researcher provides a list of possible answers b. open-ended questions = researcher notes the respondents answers c. ADVANTAGE: respondents can ask researcher questions or clarification 3. in-person surveys = similar to telephone surveys a. useful with children, ESL, or anyone that has difficulty completing a mailed survey b. ADVANTAGE: respondents can ask researcher questions or clarification 2. Interviews Interviews = a researcher asking participants a series of questions o structured = each and every respondent is asked the same questions in the same order typically used in quantitative studies o semi-structured = approach the interview with a set of questions but are also open to the interviewees introducing topics that they think are important o unstructured = begins without any predetermined questions set by the interviewer o Qualitative researchers typically use semi-structured or unstructured interviews 3 Qualitative studies o Asking semi-structured and unstructured questions (ex. tell me about a time...) Quantitative studies o Requires consistent data collection to ensure that the data can be compared Interviews and Relations of Power o There is an unequal relationship between the interviewer and interviewee Interviewer is the taker and interviewee is the giver o Interview location is crucial (affects what is revealed in a study) 3. Participant Observation Participant observation = researchers active participation in a research setting (in the daily life activities of those he/she is observing) o Also called fieldwork Qualitative method that uses processes of induction (as opposed to deduction) o do not develop hypotheses; instead, they explore places/people in-depth Informal = research unfolds before them rather than having a preconceived, rigid plan in place NOTE: difficult to get approval from the research ethics board (REB) Can be covert, semi-covert, or open o Covert research = people in the research setting dont know the researchers status and dont know that theyre being observed for research purposes o Semi-covert research = reveal the nature of the study to only some of the people involved 4. Secondary Analysis Secondary analysis = a research method involving analysis of existing data o Important for studying past events and examining trends over time ADVANTAGE: the information already exists; researcher simply has to access it o Less expensive than to research by collecting primary data DISADVANTAGE: researcher is restricted to whatever info has already been collected/recorded 5. Participatory Action Research Participatory action research (PAR) = combines an action-oriented goal and the participation of the research subjects (2 approaches: action research and participatory research) 4
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