Midterm Textbook Notes - ALL Chapters (2,9,13).

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11 Feb 2011
SOCA02-Textbook Chapter 2,9,13 Jan-31-2011
Experience filters perception is the biggest problem for sociological research.
We can never perceive society in a pure or objective form.
The filtering occurs in 4 stages
Our values help us decide which problems are worth investigating.
Our values lead us to formulate and adopt favored theories for explaining problems.
We are influenced by previous research.
The methods we use to gather data mold our perceptions.
We can use technology to interpret / gather data to provide a less biased result.
Scientific versus Unscientific Thinking
In science, seeing is believing. In everyday life, believing is seeing.
10 ways of seeing things unscientifically:
tradition (chicken soup gets rid of a cold, masturbation will blind you)
authority (newspaper bullshit)
casual observation (we're all careless observers)
Overgeneralization (my dad worked hard and became rich, so can I!)
Selective observation (I'm right because I can't think of any contrary cases)
Qualifications (exceptions to the rule)
Illogical reasoning
Ego-defense (I just can't be wrong)
Premature closure of inquiry (The matter is settled once and for all!)
Mystification (There must be supernatural forces at work here)
The Research Cycle
1. formulate a research question (must be stated so it can be answered by systematically collecting
and analyzing sociological data)
2. review the existing research literature.
3. Selecting a research method
4. Collecting data
5. Analyzing the data
6. Publish the results
Ethical Considerations
The right to safety, ppl must have the right to decide whether they can be studied and in what
The right to privacy.
The right to confidentiality.
The right to informed consent.
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SOCA02-Textbook Chapter 2,9,13 Jan-31-2011
Field Methods: From detached Observation to “Going Native
Field research: is research based on the observation of people in their natural settings.
Detached observation: an approach involving classifying and counting the behavior of
interest according to predetermined scheme.
Hawthorne effect: The presence of the researcher may itself affect the behavior of the
people being observed.
Ethnographic: researcher spends months or even years living with a people to learn their
languages, values, mannerisms – their culture – and develop and intimate understanding of
their behavior.
Participant Observation
involves carefully observing people's face-to-face interactions and participating in their lives
over a long period of time, thus achieving a deep and sympathetic understanding of what
motivates them to act in the way they do.
Subjectivity: going “native”, observing the subject from the subject's world.
Can go too far because the observers cannot see their subjects' cultures with much
Objectivity: observing the subject from the outside.
Can go too far because the observers cannot fully understand the way their subjects
experience the world, thus observers often rely on their own experiences to impute meaning
to a social setting.
It's hard for participant-observers to gain access to the groups they want to study they must
gain their trust
Race, gender, class and age differences sometimes make it difficult.
Participant Observation begins with Exploratory Research: in which an attempt to describe,
understand, and develop a theory about a social phenomenon in the absence of, or with little,
previous research on the subject.
Hypotheses: are unverified but testable statements about the relationship between two or more
Grounded theory: is an explanation of a phenomenon based not on mere speculation but on the
controlled scrutiny of objects.
Methodological Problems
Variables: are concepts that can take on more than one value.
Operationalization: is the procedure by which researchers establish criteria for assigning
values to variables. shouldclass be measured by determining people's annual income? Or
their accumulated wealth, or years of formal education?
Reliability, Validity, Generalizability, and Causality
Reliability: is the degree to which a measurement procedure yields consistent results.
Validity: is the degree to which a measure actually measures what it is intended to measure.
All valid measures are reliable, but not all reliable measures are valid.
External Validity: allows the research findings to generalize to the general population.
Internal Validity: the degree that we are successful in eliminating confounding variables
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SOCA02-Textbook Chapter 2,9,13 Jan-31-2011
within the study itself.
Generalizability: exists when research findings apply beyond the specific case examined.
Biggest problems faced by participant-observation studies.
Causality: involves the analysis of causes and their effects.
Information on how widely or narrowly a research finding applies can help us establish the
causes of a social phenomenon.
Participant-observation studies are once again bad at this...
Participant-observation is useful in exploratory research, constructing grounded theory, creating
internally valid measures, and developing a sympathetic understanding of the way people see
the world.
Participant-observation is usually deficient when it comes to reliability, generalizability, and
Experiment: is a carefully controlled artificial situation that allows researchers to isolate
hypothesized causes and measure their effects precisely.
Randomization: Experiments use randomization to create two similar groups. Randomization
involves assigning individuals to the two groups by chance processes.
Control group: is the group in the experiment that is not exposed to the independent variable.
Experimental Group: is the group in the experiment that is exposed to the independent
Dependent variable: is the presumed effect in a cause-and-effect relationship.
Independent variable: is the presumed cause in a cause-and-effect relationship.
1. Selection of subjects
2. Random Assignment of subjects to experimental and control groups
3. Measurement of dependent variable in experimental and control groups. (pretest)
4. Introduction of independent variable to experimental group.
5. Re-measurement of dependent variable in experimental and control group. (post-test)
6. Assessment of experimental effect.
Survey: people are asked questions about their knowledge, attitudes, or behaviors, either in a
face-to-face or telephone or in a paper-and-pencil format.
Sample: is part of the population of research interest that is selected for analysis.
Voluntary response sample: a group of people who chose themselves in response to a
general appeal.
Representative sample: a group of people chosen so their characteristics closely match those
of the population of interest.
Convenience sample: chooses people who are easiest to reach.
Probability sample: the units have a known and nonzero chance of being selected. The most
representative sample.
Sampling frame: the list of all the people in the population of interest.
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