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Chapter 4

Sociology 2Z03 Chapter 4 Textbook.docx

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McMaster University
Leanne Joanisse

Sociology 2Z03 Test Outline The Structuring of Inquiry: Quantitative and Qualitative Chapter 4 Research Design Three Purposes of Research 1. Exploration - Much of social research is conducted to explore a topic, that is, to start to familiarize a researcher with that topic - This approach typically occurs when a researcher examines a new interest or when the subject itself is relatively new Example: a movement - may help you find at least approx. answers to some of these questions - are also appropriate for more persistent phenomena Example: unhappy with college graduate requirements - are pursued through the use of focus groups or guided small group discussions (market research) Exploratory studies are most typically done for three purposes 1) To satisfy the researchers curiosity and desire for better understanding 2) To test the feasibility of undertaking a more extensive study 3) To develop the methods to be employed in any subsequent study Example: Channeling: in which a person known as a channel or medium enters a trance state and begins speaking with a voice that claims it originates outside the channel 2. Description - To describe situation or events (observes them and writes down what they deserve) - Scientific descriptions are more accurate and precise Example: The U.S. Census (describe accurately and precisely the population of the U.S.) - Many qualitative studies aim primarily at description 3, Explanation - Explain things - Descriptive studies answer questions of what, where, when and how; explanatory questions, of why. - reporting the voting intentions of an electorate is descriptive but reporting why some people plan to vote for CandidateAand others for Candidate B is explanatory The Logic of Nomothetic Explanation Apreceding examination of what factors might cause attitudes about legalizing marijuana illustrates nomothetic explanations - We try to find a few factors (independent variables) that can account for many of the variations in a given phenomenon - stands in contrast w/ the idiographic model When one variable (nomothetically) causes another 1. The variables must be correlated - Unless some actual relationship – or correlation – is found between two variables, we can’t say that a causal relationship exist 2. the cause takes place before the effect - We can’t say a causal relationship exists unless the cause precedes the effect in time - Example: children’s religious affiliation is based on parents  (in comparison to)  parents religious affiliation is based on children 3. The variables are nonspurious - The effects cannot be described in a third variable Ice cream and deaths due to drowning (the third variable would be seasons or temperature) Spurious Relationship – a coincidental statistical correlation between two variables, shown to be caused by a third variable Nomothetic CasualAnalysis and Hypothesis – Testing - To test a hypothesis, you would carefully specify the variables you think are casually related, as well as specifying the manner in which you will measure them - in addition to hypothesizing that two variables will be correlated with each other, you may specify the strength of the relationship you expect within the study design you are using - Finally, you may specify the tests for spuriousness that any observed relationship must survive False Criteria for Nomothetic Causality What they don’t mean when they speak of casual relationships 1. Complete Causation - Idiographic is usually complete a nomothetic is not complete and sometimes problematic - Not only one reason (depending on the case there are others) 2. Exceptional Cases - Explanations do not disprove a causal relationship For example: it is consistently found that women are more religious than men in the states – if you know a male who is religious does not disprove the overall pattern 3. Majority of the Cases - Causal relationships can be true but even if they don’t apply to the majority of cases - As long as it holds a more likely status it is correct - Children if not supervised are more likely to be delinquents Necessary and Sufficient Causes Necessary cause represents a condition that must be present for the effect to follow Example: It is necessary for you to take college courses in order to get a degree Yet it is not sufficient enough because you need to take specific courses to graduate Sufficient cause represents a condition that, if it is present, guarantees the effect in question. This is not to say that a sufficient cause is the only possible cause of a particular effect. For example, skipping an exam in this course would be sufficient cause for failing it, though students could fail it other ways. The discovery of a cause that is both necessary and sufficient is, of course, the most satisfying outcome in research - Never find cases however that are absolutely necessary and sufficient when studying nomothetic relationships among variables Units of Analysis - The what or whom being studied. In social science research, the most typical units of analysis are individual people - Implications are clearest in the case of nomothetic, quantitative studies - May studyAfrican women under 30, or some other collection but if the researcher is interested in exploring describing or explaining how different groups of individuals behave as individuals, the unit of analysis is the individual, NOT the group. This is true even though the researcher uses the info.About individuals to generalize about aggregates of individuals - We can’t say “Democrats have one mind set about weed in comparison to Republicans because we’re generalizing about an attribute they possess as individuals. - Sometimes we could study groups (street gangs) – thus we could make generalizations about certain types of gangs – male gangs more violent than female gangs - Social researchers tend to choose individual people as their units of analysis – can combine specific descriptions to make a picture of a group the individuals represent - The same distinction between units of analysis and aggregates occurs in explanatory
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