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Chapter 4&5

SOC101 Chapter 4 & 5

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University of Waterloo
SOC 101

SOCIOLOGY TEST #3 – Methods and Culture CHAPTER 4: Research, Methodology, and Ethics o A researcher working from a functionalist perspective is interested in the smooth functioning of society – for example, how roles and shared values promote equilibrium. o Conflict theorists are concerned with the struggle over scarce resources by different group[s in society and how elites control the less powerful. Researchers working from this perspective may be interested in examining government and corporate policies that disadvantage families by privatising or withdrawing particular social supports. o Symbolic interactionists are interested in face-to-face encounters and the meanings that people use to facilitate social life. A researcher may be interested in how immigrant families negotiate their sense of identity in their new surroundings. o A feminist researcher may investigate the incidence of family violence as a gendered issue in Canadian families. o Researchers who approach their topics using queer theory may wish to question the idea of what constitutes a “normal” family by investigating a variety of family forms. Quantitative Approaches o Refers to numerical data o Converting aspects of social life into numbers and determining whether a significant relationship exist between sets of numbers o Surveys, questionnaires, etc Qualitative Approaches o Do not involve the conversion of social life to numerical form o Focus is on rich detail o Tend to have smaller samples than quantitative studies because they generally are more in-depth o Qualitative studies tend to be more expensive to carry out especially on a large scale o Use interviewing and observation as the main technique of data collection o Elizabeth McDermott argues that researchers need to be aware of the subtle ways in which social class operates during interviews System of Reasoning o Two systems of reasoning: inductive and deductive logic o Inductive logic: a system of reasoning that moves from data to the formation of a theory o A researcher gathers information about a topic before developing theories about how to explain particular aspects of it. o Researchers who use qualitative approach often use inductive reasoning o Deductive logic: a system of reasoning that moves from theory to the formulation of hypothesis for testing o Begins at the level of theory o Researchers develop a theory or set of theories to explain or predict a pattern o They then test their theory to see if the expected pattern transpires o Researchers who use quantitative approach often use deductive reasoning Essential Research Concepts o Hypothesis: a tentative statement about a particular relationship that can be tested empirically o Variables: are used to measure relationships between objects, people or groups of people o Independent variables can be varied or manipulated by researchers o Dependent variable is the reaction of the participants to this manipulation o Operational definition: description of how a variable is measured o Validity: the accuracy of a given measurement o if a measurement is valid, it means that it is accurately measuring the concept o Reliability: the consistency of a given result o A measurement can be reliable (yield consistent results) yet not be valid (not accurately measure the concept) o Correlation: a measure of how strongly two variables are related to each other; it can range from weak to strong o Causality: relationships in which one variable causes a change in another variable o Spurious correlation: a false correlation between two or more variables, even though it appears to be true o Research population: a group of people that a researcher wishes to learn something about o Sample: a subset of the larger research population o Random samples enable the researcher to make generalizable claims o If the sample is representative of the larger population being studied, the results from the sample can be said to apply to the larger population Research Methods o Surveys: a research method in which respondents answer pre-set questions o Well suited to asking about what people do or think, but not as helpful in answering why people do particular things or think a certain way o Self-Administered Questionnaires can be mailed to prospective participants at relatively little cost. These tend to be used mainly in quantitative research o Telephone surveys – respondents can talk with the researcher directly if they have any questions or require clarification before answering a particular questions o In-Person Surveys – particularly useful with children, people whose first language is not English, people who lack strong literacy skills, or people with visual impairments, all whom may have difficulty completing a mailed survey o Interviews: involve a researcher asking participants a series of questions; they may be structured, semi-structured, or unstructured o Qualitative researchers typically use semi-structured or unstructured interviews o Semi-structured interviews – they approach the interview with a set of questions but are also open to the interviews introducing topics they think are important o Unstructured interview – begins without any predetermined questions being set by the interviewer o Structured- fall outside the qualitative range, typically used in quantitative studies where it is crucial for analysis that each and every respondent is asked the same questions in the same order with no room for deviation. o Participant observation: active participation by a researcher in a research setting; combines observation and participation in daily-life activities of research subjects (also known as fieldwork) o Participant observation is a qualitative ethod that uses process of induction as opposed to deduction o Do not develop hypothesis, they are interested in exploring a particular place and people in an in-depth way o Meant to be informal o Can be covert, semi-covert, or open o Covert research means that the people in the research setting are not informed of the researcher’s status; they do not know that they are being observed for the purposes of a research project o Semi-covert research involves revealing the nature of your study to only some of the people involved o Secondary analysis: a research method involving analysis of existing data o The advantage of secondary analysis is that information already exists; o The disadvantage is that the researcher is restricted to whatever information has already been collected and recorded. Silences in the data are then important to note. o Participatory Action Research: research that combines an action-oriented goal and the participation of search subjects. o Action research is designed to effect change, which may come in form of a new social policy, modifications to an existing policy, or other changes to the lives of disadvantaged people o Participatory research does not necessarily have an action component, but it does invite concerned individuals to be part of a project’s design and execution o Mixed methods: an approach in which more than one research method is used in an attempt to understand an area of study more fully Sexism in Research o Seven distinct problems of sexism in research: 1. Androcenricity: a reconstruction of the social universe through a male perspective 2. Overgeneralization: occurs when researchers include only one sex in their study but prevent findings as being
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