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Chapter 1-5

Fundamentals of Social Research Chapters 1-5 .docx

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Sociology and Anthropology
SOAN 2120
Scott Schau

Fundamentals of Social ResearchPart 1 An Introduction to Inquiry Chapter 1 Human Inquiry and Science Most of what we know is a matter of agreement and belief Little is based on personal experience and discovery Ex We know that the dark side of the moon is cold When our experience conflicts with what everyone else knows there is a good chance that well surrender our experience in favor of the agreement Looking for Reality A question that often comes up isHow can we know what is really real and some people give the answer of scienceA scientific assertion must have both logical and empirical support It must make sense and it must not contradict actual observationDirect KnowledgeOrdinary Human Inquiry Practically all people exhibit desire to predict their future circumstances Humans are predisposition to realize that their future circumstances are somehow caused or conditioned through present onesScience makes these concepts of probability and causality more explicit and provides techniques for dealing with them more rigorously then does human inquiry it sharpens the skills we already have The problem with human inquiry is that often we have to distinguish between predictions and understanding often we make predictions without understanding Human inquiry aims at answering both what and why questions and we pursue these goals by observing and figuring outSecondhand KnowledgeTradition Traditions are things thateveryone knowsBy accepting what everyone knows it helps us in not having to start over from scratch in our own search to understandWe are able to have a start to out own understanding because we inherit information from past generations Tradition may also hinder human inquiry because it makes us seem like fools if we step outside the boundaries of what we already know and what has been going on for generations before usAuthorityYou are more likely to believe the medical researcher who declares that the common cold can be transmitted through kissing then believing your uncle Pete It helps us to have authoritative figures that have experience in certain fields especially in the face of controversy On the other hand Authorities may base much of what they know through their own hindered thoughts and beliefs Both tradition and authority can provide us with a starting point for our own inquiry but can lead us to start at the wrong point and push us off in the wrong direction Errors in Inquiry and Some SolutionsInaccurate Observations If you wanted to remember what your professor was wearing the first day of class you probably couldnt remember It is easy to make inaccurate observations To help with these simple and complex measurement devices help to guard against inaccurate observations For example taking a picture of what your professor was wearing in classOvergeneralization We tend to overgeneralize the on the basis of limited observation For example a reporter shows up on scene and asks 3 people what they saw goes back and reports on it assuming that the other 3000 people saw the same thing The replication in inquiry helps to prevent overgeneralization This means simply doing the research over a second time to see if the same thing was produced the second timeSelective ObservationSelective observation is the product of overgeneralization Sometimes people see only what they want to see and not the full picture To solve this there needs to be a wide range of material that needs to be observed over and over again For example doing an experiment over and over againIllogical ReasoningThis for example is when you are in the middle of a poker game and you keep loosing For some reason you keep going because you believe that winning is just around the corner Scientists try to avoid this pitfall by using systems of logic consciously and explicitlyWhats Real Reality The Premodern View The view that has guided most of human history It is the view of our most primitive ancestors your either right or wrong two people cannot be right If their views conflict with one another A dandelion is simply a weed or a flower Pick oneThe Modern ViewAccepts such diversity as legitimate There is no right and wrong way of looking at something people merely have different opinions A dandelion could be a weed or flower its matter of opinion but really its just a dandelion
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