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Chapter 1

SOAN 2120 Chapter Notes - Chapter 1: Time Point, Content Analysis, Moral Panic

Sociology and Anthropology
Course Code
SOAN 2120
William Walters

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Chapter 1
Social Research: a process in which people combine a set of principles, outlooks
and ideas with a collection of specific practices, techniques and strategies to
produce knowledge.
Alternatives to Social Research
Authority: e.g. teachers, parents and experts. Quick, simple and cheap.
Limitations: overestimating their knowledge, authorities may not
agree, they may speak on fields they know little about, inexperience in
an authorized field.
Tradition: e.g. accepting something is true because “it’s the way things
have been forever”
Limitations: can be distorted, what was once true may not be anymore
Common Sense: e.g. what just “makes sense”
Limitations: logical fallacies, contradictory ideas, contains errors,
misinformation, contradiction and prejudice
Media Myths: e.g. TV, movies, newspaper, magazines
Limitations: perpetuate myths of a culture, moral panic, lying for
ratings/money, perpetuates general myths (e.g. astrology, UFOs)
Personal Experience: e.g. “seeing is believing”
Limitations: misleading through propaganda, cons or fraud,
stereotyping, selective observation (special notice of some people or
events and seek out evidence that confirms what you already believe
and ignore contradictory info), premature closure (when you feel
you have the answer and do not need to listen), halo effect
(overgeneralize from what we accept as being highly positive or
prestigious and let its strong reputation or prestige “rub off” onto
other areas.
How Science Works
Data: the empirical evidence or information that one gathers carefully
according to rules or procedures.
Quantitative: expressed as numbers
Qualitative: expressed as words, visual images, sounds or objects
Empirical Evidence: observations that people experience through the
senses (touch, sight, hearing, smell and taste)
The Scientific Community
A collection of people who practice science and a set of norms, behaviours
and attitudes that binds them together.
The Scientific Method and Attitude
Scientific Method: Refers to the ideas, rules, techniques and approaches that
the scientific community uses.
Steps in the Research Process
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1. Select Topic
a. A general area of study or issue.
2. Focus Question
a. Narrow down the topic
3. Design Study
a. Review past research
b. Develop a possible answer, or hypothesis and theory can be important
at this stage
4. Collect Data
5. Analyze Data
a. Will help find any patterns
6. Interpret Data
7. Inform Others
a. Write a report that describes the study’s background, how it was
conducted and what you discovered
Dimensions of Research
First Dimension
A distinction in how research is used, or between applied and basic
Second Dimension
This is the purpose of doing research or its goal, to explore, describe
or explain.
Third Dimension
How time is incorporated into the study design
Fourth Dimension
The specific data collection technique used.
Use of Research
Basic Research
Advances fundamental knowledge about the social world.
Focus on refuting or supporting theories that explain how the social
world operates, what makes things happen, why social relations are a
certain way, and why society changes.
Limitations: Lacks a practical application in the short term
Benefits: Provides a foundation for knowledge that advances a
foundation for knowledge that advances understanding in many
policy areas, problems or areas of study.
Applied Research
Designed to address a specific concern or to offer solutions to a
problem identified by an employer, club, agency, social movement or
Rarely concerned with building, testing or connecting to a larger
theory, developing a long-term general understanding, or carrying out
a large-scale investigation that might span years.
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