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Chapter 1-4

SOC 2111 Chapter Notes - Chapter 1-4: Job Satisfaction, Convergent Validity, Absenteeism

Course Code
SOC 2111
Pierre- Marc Gosselin

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CHAPTER 1General Research Questions
Chapter Summary
Chapter 1 opens with an example of a research interest into Aboriginal culture and walks
you through the process of determining what questions to ask. This example is a practical
application of the way in which a research project begins. It points to the reasons for social
research as a process for assessing the adequacy of a particular social theory, gathering
information to create social theory, understanding pressing social problems, or to explore
personal experience.
The first step in the process is determining 1) the form of the theory and 2) the relationship
between the data and the theory. The theory requires the following:
Definitions: a statement of the definitions for key terms used in the theory.
Descriptions: an overview of what exactly is being studied.
Relational Statements: the interconnection of variables (issues that impact the data).
Deterministic relational statements: there is a direct relationship between variables
that always occurs.
Probabilistic relational statements: the variables are most often connected, although
there may be some instances in which the connection doesn’t exist. Theories can be
described as middle range or grand theories. Middle range theories are ideas that explain
particular facets of social activity and can be tested for correctness. Grand Theories are
broad perspectives that establish a macro-view of social activity. They underlie analysis of
particular social interactions and social structures. Common examples of Grand theory are
structural function- alism, symbolic interactionism, critical theory, post-structuralism and
feminism. Social research may be conducted using a deductive or inductive methodology.
Deductive methodology is based in a particular theoretical perspective and uses Hypothesis
testing to confirm or reject conclusions. Inductive methodology, or grounded theory, starts
with the collection of data and the application of theory after the fact. In a grounded theory
approach the data has primacy over the theory. There are times when a grounded theory
approach will only lead to empirical generalizations rather than an actual theory of
explanation. Social Research Methods, Third Canadian Edition © Oxford University Press Canada, 2012

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Epistemology is the about what we can know and how we can acquire that knowledge. There
are several approaches on knowledge acquisition that apply to social research. The three key
forms of epistemology are:
1. Positivism
Validity is based on the ability to confirm phenomena through he senses.
Hypothesis testing that provides explanation for observable laws and principles
Inductive research may provide explanation for observable general- izations or laws.
Intersubjective (objectively valid) devoid of moral judgement
Explains the how and why of social interaction simply through a descriptive process.
2. Interpretivism
Inductive methodology
Understand the subjective meanings of social activity.
Relies on a common-sense view of social reality.
Applies an empathetic understanding approach or Verstehen (Weber). 3. Symbolic
A sub-category of interpretivism
Understand how people ‘construct’ their activities in reference to how they interpret
the symbolic meaning of their environment.
Requires understanding of the researcher’s framework of interpreting the activities
of their research subjects.
Ontology Ontology is the study of how we exist. There are two contrary forms of ontology
in social research and a third form that can in some ways be seen as a hybrid of the two. 1.

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Assumes a pre-existent (objective) social reality that is out of our control.
It is available to be discovered.
Social order is imposed.
It is a distinct, timeless, and universal entity.
Leads to a research bias or assumptions toward formal properties of social
groups/interactions. Social Research Methods, Third Canadian Edition © Oxford University Press Canada,
2. Constructionism (hard)
Reality is created.
It is simply a facet of our mental constructions.
A negotiated social ordering
Social ordering will vary over time.
Leads to a research bias or assumptions about the changing nature of social
organization. 3. Soft-Constructionism
There may be an objective social reality but it is not reflected in our ideas.
Ideas are constructs to rationalize domination.
A negotiated social ordering
Social ordering will vary over time.
Quantitative vs. Qualitative Methodology Quantitative research incorporates the use of
numbers and statistics to collect and analyze data. It tends toward an objectivist orientation
(assuming an over- arching social reality) and a positivist (natural science) epistemology,
which requires deductive (hypothesis testing) methods. Conversely, qualitative research
tends toward mainly inductive, generating a theory after data collection, and employs an
interpretivist (subjectively based) epistemology which stems from a constructionist
ontological position. Although there are tendencies toward contrary epistemologies and
ontological perspectives and in qualitative and quantitative approaches to research methods,
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