Textbook Notes (363,062)
Canada (158,169)
Sociology (239)
SOC 101 (154)
Chapter 2

Chapter 2 - Research Methods.docx

5 Pages
Unlock Document

University of Waterloo
SOC 101
Barry Mc Clinchey

Chapter 2: Research Methods Sociology: A Canadian Perspective Qualitative and Quantitative Sociology  Quantitative sociology  if viewed as a science, efforts are often made to quantify social life  Qualitative sociology  if viewed as an art or humanity, efforts are made to tap into the rich meanings of human experiences. Sociology as a Science Science has several distinguishing characteristics, including  Knowledge is based on facts  Facts can be observed  Scientific observations are done with objectivity  Uses scientific method like experiments, data analysis, and drawing conclusions  Science gives the best understanding of how the world works Besides experiments, personal opinions, biases, and cultural understandings are also important in science. Some people say we should approach with relativism (the belief there is no ultimately truth) because complete objectivity is impossible. Complete objectivity arises when one separates themselves from prior knowledge of the world when making observations (which is impossible). Others argue that sociologists can and do develop rules for what constitutes ‘good sociology’ to ‘bad sociology’. These rules concern the proper methods used to collect, record, and analyze data. Theory and Research Most sociological research is designed to test a theory. However, because theories are abstract they cannot be tested directly and must be translated through operationalized into observable ideas before they are tested. Operationalization – the process of translating theories and concepts into hypotheses and variables  Theories are abstract ideas composed of concepts, concepts are single ideas  Operationalized theories are hypotheses - a set of observable statements that are consistent with the theory, which explain relationships between variables  Hypotheses have a min. 2 types of variables: o Independent (roughly comparable to a cause) o Dependent (roughly comparable to an effect) o E.g. between average earnings of men and women, sex is the cause (therefore independent) and earnings is the effect (therefore dependent) Variables – observable equivalent of concepts, two key points:  Must be observable  Must have a range of different values they can take on (e.g. ethnicity, age, annual income, etc.)  However things such as “French, 45 years old” are not variables because they are values of variables themselves, whereas “ethnicity, age” would be variables  Values v. variables – specific detail v. broad category, e.g. French, ethnicity or 45 years old, age Validity and Reliability We want to accurately operationalize our theories and concepts into hypotheses and variables (accurate reflections), so we want to make sure that we are using measures that are valid and reliable when we are collecting our data during the construction of operational definitions of our concepts. Validity is the measurement of accuracy of the operational definition; validity can be established through formal tests, logic, or a depth of understanding There are several valid indicators:  Face validity – an indicator based on how an operational definition seems to fit nicely with our mental image of the concept it is supposed to measure, i.e. years of schooling indicating educational attainment  External validity – the extent to which the results of a research can be generalized to a larger population  Two main concerns:  The proper selection of the sample of people or elements to be studied; and  The specific techniques used  Problem with procedures is that the results may be a product of the study itself rather than reflective of real life situations, for example people may answer/act differently in a research rather than they would in real life  Internal validity – degree of the study’s conclusion that is actually supported by the data and methods that were used  Threatened when the effects attributed to specific variables/processes in the study are actually produced by other factors, i.e. grades of a math test is better if the test was taken right after a math class, it is tempting to say the class is good when there are many other reasons why the test results were high Reliability is the level of consistency of a measurement process  A reliable measurement produces the same measurements of the same phenomenon again and again  Assessment for reliability is rarely straightforward Another approach to validity and reliability most often associated with qualitative research and is based on the depth of understanding that a researcher has of their topic. One of the main goals of qualitative research is to gain better understanding of the topic/group being studied, but one must acquire results that are both valid and reliable. To achieve a level of validity and reliability in qualitative research, we don’t engage an extensive process as we do in a quantitative research. We establish it be making a convincing argument that we have properly understood our topic or group. Bias and Error Error is the accidental mistakes that would find itself into a piece of research, often referred to as ‘random errors’. Bias is the systematic inaccuracies in our data or analysis, usually unintentionally and can distort our findings so they are more serious. Bias has multiple sources but the more worrisome source is the respondent bias, where there are two types:  Acquiescence bias where respondents answer without thinking them thoroughly  Social desirability bias where respondents answer the way they think the research would want them to Research Techniques The main advantages of experiments:  They provide a controlled environment  Due to a controlled environment, experiments can then manipulate specific factors to try to determine their effect on an outcome However, sociologists do not use experiments for two reasons: 1. We cannot manipulate many of the variables we are in
More Less

Related notes for SOC 101

Log In


Don't have an account?

Join OneClass

Access over 10 million pages of study
documents for 1.3 million courses.

Sign up

Join to view


By registering, I agree to the Terms and Privacy Policies
Already have an account?
Just a few more details

So we can recommend you notes for your school.

Reset Password

Please enter below the email address you registered with and we will send you a link to reset your password.

Add your courses

Get notes from the top students in your class.