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Wilfrid Laurier University
Linda Quirke

• Research Process o Positivism and Interpretivism  Scientific social laws, testing theories, verstehen (Weber, I)  Identify both of them • Positivist Epistemology be able to identify o August Comte  Religious beliefs replaced by science and objectivity  In the past god’s will= what society wants  Wanted society to be explained logically and rationally  Increase the status of Soc by making it more like science  Empiricism • Objective and value free • Only knowledge from senses acceptable • Rigorous scientific testing • Accumulate facts = data • Dismiss research that doesn’t connect to theory o Tenants of Postivism  Science approach  Research= testing theories laws of social science  Empirical observation not influences by old theories o Positivism Under Attack  Pejorative term, superficial data collection  Criticized by Fems, Marxist and Interpretivists  Doesn’t acknowledge inequality in society, race, class, gender o Intersubjectivity different researchers should reach the same conclusions • Interpretivist Epistemology be able to identitfy o Critical of positivism o Cant be scientific with the subject matter o Verstehen: interpretive understanding of social action  Empathetic understanding o Look at the world through subjects eyes o People act based on meaning they attribute to situation o Very subjective • Theory and Research o Theory  Explanation of observed regularities  Guides the collection of data and analysis  Definitions • Specify key terms in theory  Description of phenomena  Relational statements • Connect 2 or more variables • Deterministic o 2 variables go together all of the time • Probabilistic o 2 variables go together with some degree of regularity  Grand theory • Marx, Feminism • Don’t suggest how to collect data, • Don’t know how to test  Middle range • Durkheim on suicide • Quantitative o Deduction o Positivism o Objectiveness • Qualitative o Inductive o Interpretivist o subjective • Approaches to Research o Deduction  Scientific research method  Often quantitative  Friend with positivism  Theory then observations,  in hypothesis concepts to be translated into researchable entities  Theory Observations + Findings  Theory data  Explicit hypothesis to confirm or object  Authority of knowledge= sociological community  Traditional  Process of Deduction • Theory • Hypothesis • Data Collection • Findings • Confirm or reject Hypothesis • Revision (restart @ b) o Induction  Observations/ data collection then theory creation, often qualitative  Observations and Findings Theory  Data theory  Generalize  Wont narrow ideas  Authority of knowledge= respondents and society  No attempt to follow steps  Generalized inferences from the observations  Grounded theory • Deriving theories from qualitative data • Scientific Research Process o Problem formation  What we want to study o Review of past studies o Theory  Process of making sense of the world around you, becomes hypothesis  Concepts • Abstract, often unmeasurable categories • Describe social phenomena • Love, violence, racism, social category • Very broad  Variables • Concrete and measurable • Varies across units of analysis  Independent and dependent variables  Hypothesis • Statements you make about how the world works • Statements about indi and depen vari  Rationales o Methods  Data collection strategy  Population and sample  Variable measurement  Statistics o Results and Discussion  Long term effects o Conclusion  What the findings are, do they match the hypothesis • Units of analysis o Person/ thing you collect data from o Social artifact  News paper article  Product of social beings and their behaviour  Work of art o Ex: Individuals, groups, orgs, countries o Faulty reasoning about units of analysis  Ecological fallacy • Assumption that something learned says something about individs in that unit • Generalize based on group data • Only make conclusions at group level  Reductionism • Try to boil down complex social pattern into narrow concepts o What we examine to make description of all units • Time Dimension o Cross sectional  Observations made at one point in time  No follow up  Ex: 2011 Census, exit poll after election, opinion poll  Take one slice and look at o Longitudinal (trend, cohort, panel)  Trend Study • Different people are asked the same question at different points in time • Most common • See a pattern over time to detect shifts and changes of opinions, events, etc • Long term changes in the society  Cohort Study • Group of individuals who are linked have experienced same significant life event within a given period • Tragedy • Baby boomers • Ask people at certain time, then wait and ask again 5, 10, 20 years later • What has happened in the years between ? • Less expensive • Harder because of mortality, trying to find the same people • Identify the cohort effect  Longitudinal/ Panel studies • Same individuals over time • Show volatility in each respondents intentions and opinions • Follow ups • Movie o 7 year olds asked about social class, love, work, race, and life etc in 1964, follow them over time o Tried to predict what they would be like when they are older • + possible exam question o In depth stuff o Ask more questions o Develop relationship with participants o More comfortable with the interviewer • - o Narrow view of the world o Hard to keep in contact o Ethics (children) o May “act” because they are on tv o Death o Expensive o Difficult to generalize, not rep the population o People drop out o Skewed sample • Experiments o Artificial o Purpose  Est causal relationship between ind var and dep var  Does one thing cause another??? o Random assignment of subject to experimental and control groups o Ind var manipulated all others held constant o Classic Experiment  Cover story • Lie to them, plausible • Sets stage • Don’t let them know what is really going on • Include in the write up what lie you told to get ppl to participate • What they are told may affect behaviour, say as little as possible • Deception o Ethical issues o Only way to get most natural behaviour o Don’t know if you are experimental or control group • Informed consent  Random assignment • Experimental and control group • Must be random • Inadequate assignment • Intact classes • Self selection • Systematic differences  Manipulation of IV • Groups: exposed to various levels of IV • What event corresponds to theoretical IV o Make ppl in the study do something
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