SOC200H1 Study Guide - Final Guide: Data Analysis, David Suzuki, Quota Sampling
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Logic of Social Enquiry
Introduction Sept. 12th
•Substantive: topics, research, methods
•Methodological: (this course) – methods for research and evaluating the social world.
•theoretical + methodological: assumptions and questions affect methods.
•Substantive + methodological: How methods affect answers and findings.
•Sociological questions have broader and theoretical implications.
•They concern a big group of people and the social world, rather than the individual.
•Sociological questions need to be answerable empirically and be non-normative.
•Normative: what is right versus wrong. It is not sociological, because it cannot be answered
empirically - Based on opinion.
•Characteristics of a sociological question:
1. About the social world
2. Empirically testable
3. Theoretically relevant
•Coming up with an answer to just about any question is easy
•Determining if your answer is true requires evidence.
•Evidence is the reason for which we believe something to be true.
•Epistemology: Study of truth or knowing.
•Methodology: The science of finding out.
Knowledge by Authority
•Believe the information given to you by someone based on their knowledge/speciality.
•Problem with authority – sometimes two people say the same thing, yet we may only believe
one of them. E.g. Random person vs. David Suzuki.
•Other problem: sometimes we believe people who have authority but no speciality.
•Halo effect: a cognitive bias that causes prestige or status in one area to create positive
evaluation in another area.
•Authority saves time and allows us to benefit from the time invested by others in learning
•But, authority can be ascribed sloppily, deliberately misused and even sincere and well-meaning
experts can be wrong.
Knowledge by Tradition
•The way it has always been.
•Information passed through socialization.
•“Common knowledge” and folk knowledge.
•Learning by tradition saves time and allows us to learn from the experience of others.
•But, can limit enquiry, lead to closed-mindedness and can be contradictory – no means of
Knowledge by Experience and observation
•Information gathered from observation, experiences and the senses.
•It does not require relying on information from others.
•Our observations don't necessarily reflect object reality accurately – Inaccurate and Selective
•Going from observation to conclusion requires analysis. Mistakes can creep in here.
•Over-generalization and Illogical reasoning.
•Gambler’s fallacy – not based on odds but on 'feeling'.
• Natural and social scientist specialized techniques to collect and analyze data and use their
analysis to support or reject theories.
•Data: Empirical evidence or information gathered according to specific rules or procedures.
•Analysis: Specialized procedures for drawing logical conclusions from data.
•Theories: System of interrelated propositions about causal connections between concepts.
•Gathered: another way of saying observed with your own eyes.
What makes Empirical observations different?
• Designed to be rigorous.
•No causal/semi-conscious observations
•Implicit, vague or 'common sense' understanding of classifying and recording observations
aren’t good enough.
•Define concept explicitly and precise in theoretically informed ways.
•Making observations without any plan for who and when to observe isn’t good enough.
•Plan for who and when to observe must make it possible to support our theory and disprove it.
•Observing something a few times in a particular group of people or in a particular setting
doesn't necessarily mean you will observe it elsewhere.
•Observe in ways that make it possible to observe something differently if something different is
•Observe people and settings that can speak to the people and context you to which you want to
•Do multiple studies looking for replication.
•Data are not a conclusion in themselves – deriving a conclusion requires explicit system of
•Reason carefully to ensure that your conclusion necessarily follows from the data.
Ethics Sept. 26th
Early days: The Wild Wild West
•Before 1950's researchers were answerable only to their own consciences.
•Abuses of the system lead to attention and eventually oversight.
•E.g.: Medical experiments on human subjects(syphilis and LSD experiments), Post-WWII
Social scientist making poor choices
•After WWII, social scientist (and other wondered): WTF is wrong with people?
•Milgram: People obey people in authority. (Shock experiment)
•Zimbardo: People in authority abuse their power. (Prison Experiment)
◦Build fake prison, randomly assigned people to being prisoners and other to be guards.
Experiment had to be discontinued for the safety of prisoners.
•Most researchers are subject to codes of ethic.
•Tri-council Policy Statement (TCPS)
•Institutional Research Ethics Board
•Professional ethic codes.
Basic Principles of Ethical Research.
•Ideally informed consent, often including consent form
•Know the possible risks,
•know a description of the study, including the purpose,
•know what participation entails.
•Problematic where research is concealed or deception is used.
Avoid harm to participants
•Avoid physical harm – anticipate harm and screen-out high-risk participants (Heart
failure, seizures, etc)
•Psychological harm;- screen-out high-risk participants.
•Embarrassment, anxiety, emotional, discomfort, etc.
•Minimize, balance risk and benefits, informed consent!
•Generally discouraged, sometimes necessary.
•Benefit must outweigh risk
Sept. 12th: theoretical: theory, methodological: (this course) methods for research and evaluating the social world. Overlap theoretical + methodological: assumptions and questions affect methods. Substantive + methodological: how methods affect answers and findings. Sociological questions have broader and theoretical implications: they concern a big group of people and the social world, rather than the individual. Sociological questions need to be answerable empirically and be non-normative: normative: what is right versus wrong. It is not sociological, because it cannot be answered empirically - based on opinion: characteristics of a sociological question, about the social world, empirically testable, theoretically relevant. Knowledge by authority: believe the information given to you by someone based on their knowledge/speciality. Problem with authority sometimes two people say the same thing, yet we may only believe one of them. Knowledge by tradition: the way it has always been.