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Chapter 2

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SOC 1100
Linda Gerber

SOC 1100* 4/3/2013 5:02:00 PM  Chapter Two  Sociological Investigation  Sociology is the scientific study of society  Conduct scientific research in neighborhoods, streets, homes, workplaces, prisons  Existing data or official statistics are used to determine the characteristic and actions of people  Investigation starts with 2 simple requirements; o 1) apply the sociological perspective  curious patterns of behaviour all around us (seeing the strange in the particular) o 2) be curios and ask questions  stimulating out curiosity  interest o in order to answer our questions there are many forms of “truth”  belief or faith  expert testimony (court)  simple agreement (among ordinary people)  science (the truth changes, your truth will be different) (embrace kinds of truths) SCIENCE AS ONE FORM OF TRUTH  Science: Logical system that bases knowledge on direct systematic observation o Stands apart from faith, belief or conventional wisdom  Rests on empirical evidence: information we can verify with our senses COMMON SENSE VERSUS SCIENTIFIC EVDIENCE  Scientific evidence challenges our common sense o 6 statement that people assume are true;  1) “Poor people are far more likely than rich people to break the law” (false)  2) “Canada is a middle-class society in which people are more or less equal” (False)  3) “poor people don’t want to work” (False)  4) “differences in behaviour of females and males are just human nature” (False)  5) “People change as they grow old, losing many interests as they focus on their health” (False)  6) “most people marry because they are in love” (False)  Three Ways To do Sociology  Learning about the social world  1) scientific sociology: is the study based on systematic observation of social behaviour on the basis of empirical evidence o concepts, variables and measurement;  Concept: basic element of science, a mental construct that represents some part of the work in a simplified form  (eg. Society- family, economy, race, social class  variable: a concept whose value changes from case to case  (eg. Price- change from item to item, or social class- upper,midder,lower)  measurement: a procedure for determining the value of a variable in a specific case  (eg. Social class- income,occupation,education)  statistical measures: mode, mean, median (numbers of people) o Defining Concepts, Operationalize a variable: specifying exactly what is to be measured before assigning a value to a variable o Reliability: consistency in measurement  Measurement is reliable is repeated measurements give the same results o Validity: actually measuring exactly what you intend to measure o Relationships among Variable; once measurements are made, see how the variables are related  Scientific ideal is cause and effect: a relationship in which change in one variable causes change in the other  The variable that causes the change is the independent variable  The variable that changes is the dependent variable (its value depends upon the independent variable)  Linking variables in terms of cause and effect are important because the relationship allows us to predict the outcome (if we know one thing, we can predict the other)  Correlation: a relationship in which two or more variables change together  Spurious correlation: an apparent but false relationship between two or more variables that is caused by some other variable  To expose it uses control: holding constant all variables except one in order to see clearly the effect of the variable  = correlation means only that two or more variables change together. To establish cause and effect, 3 requirements must be met  1) demonstrated correlation  2)independent variable that occurs before the dependent variable  3) no evidence that a third variable could be causing a spurious correlation between the two  (the reason science places such high value on identifying cause-and-effect relationships is that the knowledge gives us control over the world, the power to change one variable by adjusting another. It also gives us the power to predict: knowing the value of the causal variable, we can predict the effect variable) o The ideal of objectivity  Objectivity: personal neutrality in conducting research (scientific procedures, not letting their own attitudes and beliefs influence the results)  Max Weber; allowed people to select there project on their own personal beliefs and interest  Knowing that people select topics are value- relevant, but cautioned them to be value-free in their investigations  Remaining a open mind  Replication: repetition of research by other investigators, can help science be self-correcting o Some Limitations of Scientific Sociology  Several important limitations  1)human behaviour is too complex to predict preciselt any individual’s actions  2)the mere presence of the researcher might affect the behaviour being studied  3)social pattern change  4)sociologists are part of the world they study, making value-free research difficult  2) interpretive sociology: is the study of society that focuses on the meanings people attach to their social world o human beings do not simply act, they engage is meaningful action o sees reality as being constructed by people themselves in the course of their everyday lives o relies on qualitative data o sociology differs in 3 ways  action, reality and data  3) critical sociology: is the study of society that focuses on the need for social chang
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