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Sociological Investigation

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University of British Columbia
SOCI 100
Debra Pentecost

Methods: The Sociological Investigation 09-30-2012 From text Ch1 p. 18-34 Three Ways To Do Sociology 1. Scientific Sociology  Logical system that bases knowledge on direct, systematic observation  Empirical evidence , verifiable by our senses  Few examples of things contradicted by evidence: o Differences in human behavior of females and males reflect „human nature‟ o Canada is a middle-class society in which most people are more-or-less equal o People marry because they are in love  Concepts – mental construct that represents some part of the world in a simplified form o “the family”, “the economy”  Variable – concept whose value changes rom case to case o “social class”, “price”  Measurement – a procedure for determining the value of a variable in a specific case  Descriptive statistics – to state what is average for a large population o Mean – average o Median – middle score o Mode – most occurring value  Reliability – consistency in measurement  Validity – actually measuring exactly what you intend to measure (precision)  Correlation – relationship in which two or more variables change together o Correlation doesn‟t necessarily mean causation o Spurious relationship – correlation but not causation  Cause and effect – to find out why something happens; relationship in which change in one variable causes a change in another (causal) o Dependent and independent variables  Objectivity – personally neutral in conducting research, no personal values or beliefs involved  Max Weber – “people usually choose value-relevant research topics” 2. Interpretive Sociology  Study of society that focuses on the meanings people attach to their social world  Pioneered by Max Weber – through interpretation and understanding the meaning people create in their everyday lives  The Importance of Meaning (Scientific/Positivist vs. Interpretive) o What people do vs. the meaning they attach to their behavior o Objective reality vs. reality constructed by people themselves o Quantitative data vs. Qualitative data  Weber‟s concept of Verstehen o Verstehen = understanding o Don‟t just observe people‟s actions but to also share in their world of meaning to appreciate why they do as they do 3. Critical Sociology  Objectivity  Study the reality that is “out there” and document it  Karl Marx – founded the critical orientation; “society doesn‟t exist in a fixed order”, “society cannot be changed”  Importance of Change o The study of a society that focuses on the need for social change o “Should society exist in its present form?” o Not just study the world, but to change it as well and improve it o Rejects the scientific way of value-free sociology o Consider research subjects equals  Sociology as Politics o Political, therefore gives up any claim to objectivity o Research either calls for change or it does not o Sociology is political, just choose which side you‟re on o Activist approach o Scientific sociology appeals to research with more conservative views o Critical sociology appeals to liberal and left-wing politics Methods and Theory
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