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Chapter 2

Chapter note from Sociology in Our Times 5th Canadian Edition: Chapter 2

14 pages176 viewsWinter 2011

Department
Sociology
Course Code
SOC 103
Professor
Sal Guzzo
Chapter
2

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Chapter 2: Sociological Research
Why Is Sociological Research Necessary?
Common-sense beliefs about society are often wrong
Five Ways of Knowing the World
Personal experience
Tradition
oeveryone knows it to be true
Authority
oExperts
Religion
Science
oControlled, systematic observation
Personal experience, tradition, authority, and religion are valid sources of
understanding
But hard to resolve differences in these, because people believe in diff things
Science allows scientists to resolve differences in their understanding of the social
and physical world
Science uses Empirical approach
Empirical approach: scientific findings are based on the assumption that
knowledge is best gained by direct, systematic observation
Normative approach: uses religion, tradition, or authority to answer important
questions, based on strong beliefs about what is right and wrong, and what is
desirable in society
Scientific knowledge is systematic and public
Scientific knowledge has a built-in mechanism for self-correction, scientists never
say their findings represent eternal truths
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Hypothesis: tentative statements of the relationship between two or more concepts
of variables
Science is objective
Objective: scientists try to ensure that their biases and values do not affect their
research
Researchers must be careful of bias they have
Cant be completely objective, Weber said that section of research problems is
influenced by the researchers values
Weber: sociology was fundamentally concerned with the subjective meaning of social
action primary task of the sociologist is to understand the meaning an act has for
the actor himself, not for the observer
Kirby and McKenna, how someone sees and how we go about constructing meaning
is a matter of interpretation
Descriptive and Explanatory Studies
Descriptive studies: attempt to describe social reality or provide facts about some
group, practice or event
Explanatory studies: attempt to explain relationships and to provide information
on why certain events do or do not occur
The Theory and Research Cycle
Theory and research is a continuous cycle
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Deductive approach: the researcher begins with a theory and uses research to test
the theory
oTheories generate hypotheses
oHypotheses lead to observations (data gathering)
oObservations lead to generalizations
oGeneralizations are used to support the theory, modifications to it, or dispute
it.
Inductive approach: researcher collects information or data (facts or evidence) and
then generates theories from the analysis of those data
oSpecific observations suggest generalizations
oGeneralizations produce a tentative theory
oThe theory is tested through the formation of hypotheses
oHypotheses may provide suggestions for additional observation
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