LEC01[Chapter 2] How Sociologists Do Research January 11,
Science method/approach restricted to answer all questions of life; cannot answer ultimate
Ultimate questions :
Are all ways of life equally futile, or is it possible to live a meaningful life?
Applies to religion perhaps
Is there an unmoved mover?
What happens to us when we die?
Why is there something instead of nothing?
Do we have a soul and is that soul immortal?
Science method relies on facts
Every cause in the universe started with the big bang, but what caused the big bang?
Natural sciences = super natural
Science & Experience (slide6)
Biggest problem for sociological research is the experience filters our perceptions
Experience helps us determine how we perceive reality & influences:
What patterns we see
Whether we even see the patterns
Filtering Stages in Research (slide7)
Experience filters our perception, helps us determine how we see and don’t see in the
4 stages to filtering (in sociological research)
1. Researcher’s values help them decide which problems are worth investigating.
Filtering is bias, very hard to keep bias out of research.
2. Values lead researchers to formulate & adopt favored theories for interpreting
& explaining those problems (functionalism)
3. Researchers’ interpretations are influenced by previous research
4. Methods used to gather mould the researchers’ perception. Types of research
methods, survey (common), observation…
Scientific vs. Unscientific Thinking
Even in natural science, it’s hard to eliminate biases.
In everyday life, our biases easily influence our observations.
Sociologists have tried to develop ways of collecting, observing and thinking about
evidence that minimizes biased conclusions but have only marginal success in doing so.
Descriptive data: not trying to show, not trying to explain how A causes B, but just trying
to present B as it exists.
from 1952 to 2002 the divorce rate rose from 15% of all marriages to 50% of all
the infant mortality rate in Canada in 2001
the population in Scarborough in 2009
The children of upper income parents are more likely to attend university.
“urbanites” are more likely to commit suicide than “ruralities”
Gov’ funding for healthcare causes infant mortality rates to decline
Does the death penalty cause murder rates to decline?
Does the economic influence rates of common crime?
Since 1946; right after World War II, population is aging = proportion of seniors (65yrs
old +) are rising. Most modern societies have aging societies, but not necessarily
developing. People start having fewer children, not having children like how we use to,
families were bigger back then.
There are more seniors (65+) because people are healthier & therefore live longer.
Baby Boom after war.
Knowledge of trends tells you ahead of time, to build schools etc, for the baby boom
Now the boomers are hitting old age, within 5 years, boomers will start retiring. (PS.
CAREER BACKUP PLAN: WORK AT SENIOR HOMES, OR SENIOR
Canadian pension plan will suffer and will not be able to support the load, going to go
broke if nothing changes. Develop rational policies before the problem.
Proportion of young people is declining and proportions of seniors are on the rise;
withdrawing is increasing, but less input (AKA. START SIGNING UP FOR DEM
Tools used by researchers (from specific to general/micro to macro tool)
Building blocks organize social world for science approach for prob.
We use them all the time, and may not even be aware.
Labels are used to identify similar processes & things
Concepts & Sub-concepts:
Alienation : 1) powerlessness 2) meaninglessness 3) self-estrangement 4)
•Eg.: Pink Floyd’s songs, lyrics
1) education 2) occupation 3) income
Measurement: researchers use mental constructs or concepts (eg. Race, class, gender)
Variables: concepts that vary in time & space, some concepts have more than one value.
Eg. Height, wealth, affection
Cannot do research unless the concept varies in value.
Ex. Offspring & university attendingness depends on various incomes. Income is
a good example, so is education and occupation (from social class list above)
(VERY IMPORTANT) that variables that can be manipulated.
Operationalization: Establish rules for assigning values to variables (Procedure by which
researchers establish criteria for assigning values to variables)
Hypotheses: need 2 or more variables
Ex: 1) The Greater the degree of poverty, the greater the rate of common crime
2) Low prestige individuals are more likely to defer to high prestige
3) Males commit more violent crimes
Precisely so when the hypotheses is tested, it is either rejected or accepted
Hypotheses are based on creativity, intelligent guess work & knowledge in the field
Once a hypotheses is confirmed, it becomes an empirical generalization
1) The higher income of parents, the higher the educational achievement of offspring
2) The narrower the division of labour. The higher the level of work alienation.
Experiences shape the kind of research you do; work shapes mental well being
cause you spend so much time doing it - Profound impact.
3) Suicide rates are higher is urban locations than rural locations
Social solidarity, healthy ego needs to be socially integrated, needs social support
and if such support is not present, then we have anomy
In the city, social integration is weak compared rural, lacks social support. In a
rural area, social identity is secure; everyone know everyone. In the city, you are
unknown; anonymous. Social anomitity: when you walk down the street, no one
knows you, nor do they want to. /// urban environment; more isolated, detached,
alone. LOOK INTO, which one? Or both?
science method/approach restricted to answer all questions of life; cannot answer ultimate questions. what happens to us when we die? religion. biggest problem for sociological research is the experience filters our perceptions. experience helps us determine how we perceive reality & influences: experience filters our perception, helps us determine how we see and don"t see in the world. 4 stages to filtering (in sociological research: researcher"s values help them decide which problems are worth investigating. Filtering is bias, very hard to keep bias out of research: values lead researchers to formulate & adopt favored theories for interpreting. & explaining those problems (functionalism: researchers" interpretations are influenced by previous research, methods used to gather mould the researchers" perception. even in natural science, it"s hard to eliminate biases. www. notesolution. com. In everyday life, our biases easily influence our observations.