Sociology 2206A/B- Final Exam Guide - Comprehensive Notes for the exam ( 154 pages long!)

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Sociology 2206A/B
Final EXAM
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Chapter 10- Nonreactive Quantitative Research and Secondary Analysis
Nonreactive- also called unobtrusive measures
- the people being studied are not aware that they are part of a research project
- nonreactive techniques are largely based on positivist principles but are also used by interpretive and critical
Nonreactive measurement
The logic of nonreactive research
- nonreactive measurement begins when a researcher notices something that indicates a variable of interest
- the behaviours or actions of the subject are “natural”
- the observant researcher infers from the evidence to behaviour or attitudes without disrupting the people being
Varieties of nonreactive or unobtrusive observation
- nonreactive measures are varied and researchers have been creative in inventing indirect ways to measure
social behaviour
- ex. family portraits have been studied to see how gender relations within the family are reflected in seating
- ex. researchers have studied the listening habits of drivers by checking what stations their radios are on when
the cars are being repaired
Recording and documentation
- creating nonreactive measures follows the logic of quantitative measurement
- a researcher first conceptualizes a construct, then links the construct to nonreactive empirical evidence, which
is its measure
- the operational definition of the variables includes how the researcher systematically notes and records
- because nonreactive measures indicate a construct indirectly, the researcher needs to rule out reasons for the
observation other than the construct of interest
Quantitative Content analysis
Content Analysis- a technique for gathering and analyzing the content of text
Content- refers to words, meanings, symbols, ideas, pictures, themes or any message that can be
Text- anything written, visual, or spoken that serves as a medium for communication
- includes books, newspaper, magazine articles, advertisements, speeches, official documents, films,
video tapes, musical lyrics, photographs, articles of clothing, and works of art
the content analysis researcher uses objective and systematic counting and recording procedures to
produce quantitative description of the symbolic content in a text
content analysis is nonreactive because the process of placing words, messages or symbols in a text to
communicate to a reader or receiver occurs without influence from the researcher who analyzes its
content analysis allows a researcher reveal the content in a source of communication and lets him or her
probe into and discover content in a different way from the ordinary way of reading a book
with content analysis, a researcher can compare content across many texts and analyze is with
quantitative techniques (charts, tables)
content analysis can document in objective terms whether your vague feelings based on unsystematic
observation are true
Coding turns aspects of content that represent variables into number
- the process of converting raw information or data into another form for analysis
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- in content analysis it is a means for determining how to convert symbolic meanings in text into another
form usually numbers
Topics appropriate for quantitative content analysis
- content analysis cannot determine the truthfulness of an assertion or evaluate the aesthetic qualities of
- It reveals the content in text but cannot interpret the content’s significant
- content analysis is useful for 3 types of research problems
1. It is helpful for problems involving large volumes of text
2. It is helpful when a topic must be studied “at a distance” ex. historical documents, writing of someone who
3. Content analysis can reveal messages in a text that are difficult to see with causal observation
Measurement and Coding
General issues- careful measurement is crucial in content analysis because a researcher converts diffuse
symbolic communication into precise, objective quantitative data
- a coding system is a set of instructions or rules on how to systematically observe and record content
from text
- a researcher tailors it to the specific types of text or communication medium being studied (TV drama,
novels, photos in magazines)
Units- the unit of analysis can vary a great deal in content analysis
- it can be a word, phrase, a theme, plot, newspaper article, character
- in addition to units of analysis, researchers use other units in content analysis that may or may not be
the same as units of analysis; including recording units, context units and enumeration units
What is measured?
Measurement in content analysis uses structured observation
Structured observation- a method of watching what is happening in a social setting that is highly
organized and that follows systematic rules for observation and documentation
- systematic, careful observation based on written rules
- the rules explain how to categorize and classify observations
- categories should be mutually exclusive and exhaustive
- written rules make replication possible and improve reliability
Coding systems identify 4 characteristics of text content
1. Frequency- counting whether or not something occurs and if it does occur, how often
2. Direction- direction is noting the direction of messages in the content, along some continuum (e.g.
positive or negative, supporting or opposed)
3. Intensity- intensity is the strength or power of a message in a direction (e.g. minor or major)
Minor- forgetting to take your keys Major- forgetting your name
4. Space- space in written text is measured by counting words, sentences, paragraphs or space on a page
- for a video or audio text, space can be measured by the amount of time allocated
Coding, Validity and Reliability
Manifest coding- coding the visible, surface content in a text
- researcher first develops a mist of specific words, phrases or symbols and then finds them in a
communication medium
- highly reliable because the phrase or word either is or is not present
Coding Frame- a list of all possible values that your codes may take
Latent Coding- a researcher using latent coding looks for the underlying, implicit meaning in the
content of a text
- the researchers coding system has general rules to guide his or her interpretation of the text and for
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