Sociology Exam #2
A concept is a label that is applied to things with similar characteristics or
Things that – in our minds – seem to belong to the same category.
The words used to describe things that exist analytically but are not directly
observable are called constructs because to observe them we must rely on
some constructed measure.
The first step in doing science involves picking the concepts or constructs of
interest to us. We call these concepts variables.
When sociologists speak or write about their research, they tend to use the
term variable a lot.
To call a concept of a construct a variable, means, in the first place, that it is a
thing of interest in a particular piece of research.
They have two important characteristics.
First, a variable is something that is thought to influence or be influenced by
Second, a variable is a thing that has varying attributes.
A characteristic of a quality that describes a thing.
The list of attributes must be exhaustive; that is, every thing or person being
observed must fit into one category.
The list of attributes must be mutually exclusive; that is, no one person or
thing should be able to fit into more than a single category.
How is a concept related to a variable?
A concept is not the same thing as a variable
Concepts exist only in our heads (abstract ideas)
Variables exist in the “real world” (measureable concepts)
After we identify the variables of interest to us, we posit a relationship
between them. The result is