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GGR271H1 (14)


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University of Toronto St. George
Matti Siemiatycki

Chapter 1 General Research Orientation Research  understand the world around us  motives - driven by pressing social problems or to assess the adequacy of a particular social theory  The data gathered are usually viewed in relation to theories – to find order and meaning in a seemingly infinite mass of information Theory  an explanation of observed regularities or patterns, including the following components:  definitions – specify the meaning of the key terms  descriptions of the phenomena of interest  Relational statements – connection between the variables  Deterministic – 2 variables go tgt all of the time  Probabilistic – 2 variables go tgt with some degree of regularity, but the relationship is not one of inevitability  Types of Theories – theories of the middle range and grand theories  Follow upon or arise from the collection and analysis of data  Deductive and inductive approaches (however researches are Impossible to be purely deductive or inductive) Deductive 1. Theory: explain a particular phenomenon 2. Hypothesis: was deduce from the theory and are tested with empirical data 3. Data collection 4. Findings 5. Hypothesis confirmed or rejected 6. Revision of theory  There are many instances that does not follow the exact linear sequence, a second theory may become apparent after the data have been collected  Generate hypotheses that can be tested and thereby allow explanations of observed laws and principles to be assessed Inductive  Theory is the outcome of research  Researcher begins by gathering or examining data relevant to the phenomenon being investigated  Data are gathered to construct a theory  Aresearcher may want to collect more data to establish the conditions in which the newly emerged theory does or does not hold – this is called iterative – a weaving back and for the between data and theory 1  The practice of deriving theories from qualitative data referred as grounded theory  Knowledge can be arrived at through the gathering of facts that provide the basis for generalizations or laws Epistemological Considerations  Social research are done based on a number of epistemological assumptions (notions of what can be known and how knowledge can be acquired  What should be regarded as acceptable knowledge  Fundamental controversy: whether the social world should be studied according to the same principles and procedures as those used in the natural science  Positivism and Interpretivism approaches Positivism  Affirms the importance of following the natural sciences  The principle of empiricism, stating that ideas must be subjected to the rigours of empirical testing before they can be considered knowledge  Deduction and Induction  Science must be conducted in a way that is value free – objectivity or intersubjectivity – different researchers would reach the same conclusions given the same data  Clear distinction between scientific statement and normative statements  Scientific: how and why social phenomenon operate the way they do (domain of science)  Normative: certain acts or social conditions are morally acceptable (philosophy or religion  Asharp distinction between theory and research and includes elements of both deduction and induction  Acommon mistake is to treat positivism as synonymous with science and the scientific. In fact philosophers of social science differ sharply because they look at some fundamental differences between human beings such as the capacity for volition. Interpretivism  Claim that it is the role of social scientists to grasp the subjective meanings of people‟s actions  Using their own common-sense constructs, individuals interpret the reality of their daily lives and it is these thoughts that motivate their behaviour  The job of the social scientist is to gain access to the „common sense thinking‟of the people they study and hence to interpret people actions and their social world from the point of view of the actors  Argue that the subject matter of the social sciences – people, groups and institutions is fundamentally different from that of the natural science  The study of the social world requires a different logic and research procedure  Emphasis on the explanation of human behaviour (positivist) Vs the preference for an empathetic understanding and interpretation of human behaviour.  Example: Symbolic interactionism 2 Ontological considerations Objectivist  Social phenomena have an objective reality, one that is independent of our perceptions  There is such a thing as social reality, and that it is the job of social scientists to discover what that reality is  Social reality akin to how most people view the physical world – largely fixed and „out there‟, something that individuals and groups have to confront but over which they have little or no control, like a snowstorm  See any organization as possessing a reality external to any of the specific individuals who inhabit it; they may leave but it will stay.  The organization represents a social order in that it exerts pressure on individuals to conform to organizational requirements; a constraining force that acts on and inhibits its members. Constructionist  The reality is merely a set of metal construction  In sympathy with Nietzsche‟s aphorism: „there are no facts, only interpretations  Maintain that there are no objective social reality against which our conceptions and views of the world may be tested  „Soft constructionist‟: there may be an objective social reality, but many of our ideas do not reflect that reality at all, but instead are constructed to justify or rationalize various forms of domination.  Social reality is not necessarily pre-existing and fixed, but is instead created through our actions  Organization is best conceptualized as one of „negotiated order‟instead of viewing order as a pre-existing characteristic  Numerous agreements are continually being terminated or forgotten, but also as continually being established, renewed, and revised…  Rules are viewed as general understanding more than commands, therefore far less extensive and less rigorous  The concepts that people employ to help them understand the natural and social world are social products whose meaning is constructed in and through social interaction Quantitative  Involves the use of numbers and statistics in the collection and analysis of data  Deductive approach: theory testing is a prime objective  Positivism in particular  Objective reality Qualitative  Utilizes mainly words and other non-numerical symbols  Inductive approach: generation of theories and interpretations 3  Interpretivism in particular  Constructionist view Influence on Social Research Practical Considerations  The nature of the topic and the people being investigated  Choosing the research question – state the purpose of study and Values guide: the literature search; decisions about the kind of research  Values intrude in all phases design, methods and orientation, and to employ and what data of the research process, to collect and from whom; the analysis of the data and the from the choice of a topic writing up of the findings (better if narrowing down the topic) to the formulation of Theory conclusions  Research cannot be Epistemology Social Research value-free. Researchers are encourage to have Ontology self-reflections to ensure that values in the research Politics process are acknowledged  Social researchers sometimes take sides (goven’ role VS free market) and made explicit  Research funding  ‘Conscious partiality’/  Gaining access to research subjects consciously value-laden  Negotiation with the gatekeepers for the permission of info. transpire research (feminist)  Publication of findings Chapter 6 Structured Observations Structure Observation/ Systematic Observation  Atechnique for the researchers to employ explicitly formulated rules for the observation, categorization and recording of behaviour; these rules are referred to as an observation schedule.  Main advantages: behaviours is observed directly, instead of inferred from what the respondent reports from survey research  Seldom use technique because:  Certain types of behaviour (criminal activity) are inherently difficult to observe  Many social researchers want to generalize their findings – selecting large, random samples that provide info, but not feasible to adopt the methodology in a structured observation study 4 Problems with using survey research to investigate behaviour  meaning: wrong interpretations of question  memory: false memories of certain aspect  social desirability effect: respondents give answers that they think will reflect well on them  threatening or embarrassing question: respondents are not fully truthful  Gap between stated and actual behaviour Bales‟observation schedule – classic schedules for the observation of small-group behaviour Observation Schedule  Aclear focus is necessary, the research problem needs to be clearly stated  The categories of behaviour must be both mutually exclusive and exhaustive  The classification scheme must be easy to use and requires not much interpretation on the part of the observer; clear guidelines and considerable training and experience are required Strategies for observing behaviour  Record in terms of incidents  Record a wide variety of behaviours, in either short or long periods of time  Time sampling Issues of reliability and validity  Observation schedule provides  more reliable information about events;  greater precision regarding their timing, duration and frequency;  greater accuracy in the time ordering of variables;  more accurate and economic reconstruction of large-scale social episodes Reliability  Inter-observer consistency – how closely 2 or more observers of the same behaviour agree on how to code it  Intra-observer consistency – the degree of consistency in the application of the observation schedule by a single observer over time  the capacity for people to behave differently depending on the context  observers can be trained to get highly reliable results Validity  relates to t question of whether an indicator is measuring what it is supposed to measure, even when it is administered properly  can also be affected by error aroused from faulty administration  It is necessary to attend to the same kinds of issues concerning the checking of validity encounter in 5 interviews and questionnaires  Errors in implementation:  Observation schedule not administered as directed – structured interviewers should follow instructions exactly as indicated. Variations makes the measure unreliable and thus invalid  People change their behaviour because they know they are being observed  “reactive effects” – atypical or not authentic behaviour of the participants Field experiments as a form of structure observation  Astudy in which a researcher directly intervenes in a natural setting to observe the consequence of that intervention  LaPiere – Chinese couple (however imperfect because no presence of control group)  Participants do not know they are being studied  Rosenhan – study of schizophrenia in mental hospital Criticisms of structured observation  Risk of imposing an inappropriate observation schedule on the setting observed, a risk especially great in settings about which little is know  Solution: a period of unstructured observation will be carry out first, so that appropriate variables and categories can be specified in advance  Less able to get at the intentions behind behaviour. Observers have to impute them.  Tendency to generate many small bits of data and hard for one finding general themes that illustrate the bigger picture that lies behind them. Chapter 7 Other Sources of Data  Concern with a fairly heterogeneous of data sources (documents): letters, diaries, autobiographies, newspapers, television shows, websites, and photographs (which can be read but not produced specifically for the purpose of social research)  Interpretative skill is required to ascertain the meaning of the materials uncovered  Provide an unobtrusive measure and remove the invalidity of the data  Four criteria for assessing the quality of documents:  Authenticity – evidence genuine and of unquestionable origin?  Credibility – evidence free from error and distortion?  Representativeness – evidence typical of what it is supposed to represent? It not, is the extent of its uniqueness known? 6  Meaning – evidence clear and comprehensible? Personal Documents Diaries, letters and autobiographies  Often used by historians, but less attention by other social researchers  Letter is a form of communication with other people, diarists presumably write for themselves  Can either be primary source of data, or adjuncts to other sources such as life story interviews  The authenticity criteria is clearly of considerable importance – is the purported author of the letter or diary the real author?  Credibility – the factual accuracy of the reports and whether they do in fact depict the true feelings of the writer  Representativeness – since literacy was far lower in the past, letters, diaries, and autobiographies were likely to be the preserve of a higher social class, especially educated male.  The selective survival of documents like letters – why do any survive at all, some are damaged, lost?  The question of meaning – render problematic by things like damage to letters and diaries and the use by authors of abbreviations or codes that are difficult to decipher; letter writers leave much unsaid in their communications because they share with their recipient common values and assumptions that are taken for granted Visual Objects  Photographs is the most obvious manifestation of this trend – what they reveal about families  Idealization – a formal pose; e.g. the wedding photograph  Natural portrayal – entails capturing actions as they happen  Demystification – depicting a subject in an atypical situation  Despite taking the photograph as a research source, it is also necessary to have considerable knowledge of the social context in order to get is full meaning  Representativeness – photographs that survive the passage of time are very unlikely to be representative  May have been selective retention  An awareness of what is not photographed can reveal the mentality of the persons behind the camera  Different narrative/interpretations can be assigned to a picture Government documents  a source of potential significance for social researchers  produces a great deal of quantitative statistical information  a great deal of textual material of potential interest, such as official reports  the question of credibility raises the issue of whether the documentary source is biased 7 Official documents from private source  heterogeneous group of sources, but a common one is company documents  Companies produce many documents, public domain reports – annual reports, press releases, advertisements, and public relations material in printed form and on the World Wide Web.  Other documents that may not be accessible to the public such as company newsletters, organizational charts, minutes of meetings, memos, internal and external correspondence, and manuals for new recruits  Often used by organizational ethnographers in their investigations, but difficult to gain access to it  Issues of credibility and representativeness are still likely to require scrutiny  Ahealthy skepticism is often warranted – issue of representativeness Mass media outputs  Newspapers, magazines, television programs, films and other mass media are potential sources for social scientific analysis  Authenticity issues are sometimes difficult to ascertain in the case of mass media output  The authorship of articles is often unclear, so that it is difficult to know whether the account was written by someone in a position to provide an accurate version  Credibility is often an issue – the uncovering of error or distortion that is the objective of the analysis  Representativeness may not be an issue – many take a consistent tone or ideological bent  The evidence is usually clear and comprehensible but may require considerable awareness of contextual factors Virtual outputs and the Internet as objects of analysis  “text” – has been traditionally been employed as a synonym for „written document‟, but in recent years the word has been applied to an wide range of phenomena  Websites and web pages as potential sources of data  The vastness of the Internet and its growing accessibility make it a likely source of documents for both quantitative and qualitative data analysis  The use of images in websites can also be quite revealing  Other forms of Internet-based communications ( chat rooms, discussion groups) have been used as objects of analysis  Authenticity: anyone can set up a website, so matters such as financial predictions may be given by someone who is not an authority  Credibility: are there possible distortions? (Values exaggerated for buy and sell?)  How representative websites on a certain topic is?  Employing both traditional printed documents and website materials can provide a basis for cross-validating sources. Introduction to secondary analysis 8  Survey research and structured observation can be extremely time consuming and expensive to conduct  Large amounts of quantitative data already exist, collected by individual social scientist and by organizations such as government departments and university-affiliated research centres  has the advantage of not bothering an already over-surveyed public Advantages of secondary analysis  cost and time – offers good quality data for a tiny fraction of the cost involved in collecting new data  High quality data – most of the data sets employed for secondary analysis are of extremely high quality  Sampling procedures have been rigorous, well-established procedures are usually in place for following up non-response and thereby keeping this problem to a minimum  The samples are often national in scope or cover a wide variety of regions, which is a highly desirable but costly feature  Many data sets have been generated by highly experienced researchers, some of them fathered by social research organizations with strong control procedures to check on data quality  Opportunity for longitudinal analysis – provide an opportunity for longitudinal research. Apanel design has been employed to chart trends over time. Because certain interview questions are recycled and asked of different samples each year, shifting opinions or changes in behaviour can be identified  Subgroup analysis – when large samples are the source of data, there is an opportunity to study subgroups.  Opportunity for cross-cultural (international) analysis – many findings may not apply to countries other than the ones in which the research was conducted. Cross0cultural research can address that issue  More time for data analysis – as data collection is time-consuming, the analysis of the data is often rushed. Working out what to make of t the data requires considerable thought and often a preparedness to learn unfamiliar statistical techniques  Reanalysis can offer new interpretations – easy to think that once a set of data has been analysed the data have in some sense been drained of all insight. In fact, the data can be analysis in many different ways  The wider obligations of the social researcher – Much social research is chronically underanalyzed because primary researchers often want to look at data only with respect to their research questions and lost interest in their existing data. Limitations of secondary analysis  Lack of familiarity with data – a period of familiarization is necessary to come with a wide variety of variables, the ways in which they were coded, and various aspect of their organization  Complexity of the data – some of the best-known data sets employed for secondary analysis are very large both in the number of cases and the number of variables they contain. Some of the data sets are hierarchical, the data are collected and presented at the level of both the household and the individual  The ecological fallacy – can be a problem if data gathered by region or neighbourhood are used to make statements about individuals. Group data cannot evaluate certain possibility. To avoid this problem, the unit 9 of analysis of the data must be the same as the unit of analysis of the statement or hypothesis  No control over data quality – with lesser-known data sets, more caution may be necessary with regard to data quality  Absence of key variables – As secondary analysis entails the analysis of data collected by others for their own purposes, one or more of the secondary analyst‟s key variables may not be present, or may be measured differently in different years Official statistics  Agencies of the state are often required to keep a running record of their activities  Offer certain advantages over some other forms of quantitative data, such as data based on surveys:  Data based on population, not samples, allowing a complete picture to be obtained  Problem of reactivity is less pronounced as people who are the source of data are not a part of the research project  Greater prospect of analysing the data both longitudinally and cross-culturally.  Official statistics can be very misleading because they record only those individuals who are processed by the agencies that have the responsibility for compiling the statistics  „the dark figure‟– substantial amount of data(variables) goes unrecorded Reliability and validity  Reliability is jeopardized when definition and policies regarding the phenomena to be counted vary over time and thus affect validity Condemning and resurrecting official statistic  In the 1960s, there was a torrent of criticism of official statistics.  An important article by Bulmer (1980) questioned the negativity and marked a turning point Official statistics as an obtrusive measure  Removes the observer from the behaviour being studied:  Physical traces – signs left behind by a group, trash/ graffiti  Archive materials – documents and other information collected by governmental and non-governmental organizations  Simple observations - situations in which the observer has no control over the behaviour; play an non-intrusive, passive and unobserved role in the research situation Chapter 2 Research Designs  Broad structures that guide the collection and analysis of data  Involves decisions about what the researcher wants accomplish with the study 10  Determines the kind of explanation the researcher would like to make  Quantitative researchers often explain a phenomenon in terms of causes and effects expressed in terms of general laws and principles  Nomothetic approach to explanation  Qualitative researchers seek a rich description of a person or group, although the description usually involves or implies proximate, specific cause for the participants  Idiographic explanations  Once a design has been selected, specific methods for collecting data has to be chosen:  Use a preset instrument, such as a self-completion questionnaire or a structured interview schedule  Utilize a less formalized method like participant observation: researchers takes part in the activities of a group of people, sometimes even living among them for a time. Criteria for evaluating social Research  Variables, a characteristic or attribute that caries, such as gender, income, fondness for mathematics, or athletic ability  Important in the discussions of theories and causality in the discourse of social sciences Reliability  If a particular measurement technique were administered several times to the same research, same results would be received  Example, unreliable if scores on an intelligence test are unstable and fluctuate when administered to the same people Replicability  Others are able to repeat part or all of a study and get the same results  Doing replications can: avoid results that mprior evidence on the topic; check that the original research was carried out properly Validity  Concern with the integrity of the conclusions generated by a piece of research  Measurement validity/ construct validity:  Whether an indicator really measures what it is supposed to measure  Mostly apply to quantitative Research and its measures of social concepts  Internal Validity  Related to causality – could the cause be something else?  Proposed cause is refer as independent varand the corresponding effect as the dependent variable  Raises the degree of confidence one can have that the independent variable really does have an 11 impact on the dependent variable  External validity  Whether a study‟s findings are applicable to situations outside the research environment, in everyday or natural social settings  The more the social scientist intervenes in natural settings or creates unnatural ones, the greater the chance that the findings will be externally invalid  Qualitative research tends to be high in this type of validity  Involves talking a naturalistic stance – a style of research that seeks to minimize the use of artificial methods of data collection (natural world should be undisturbed as possible)  Collects data in naturally occurring situations and environments, i.e., by living with people for months  Whether the results of a study can be generalized beyond the people or cases analysed by the researchers  If a representative sample of people is selected, the researcher can be confident that the results of the study may be applied to the population from which the sample was drawn Relationship with the general research orientation  Reliability and measurement validity, and internal validity require how adequately concepts have been measured, which may then downplay qualitative research because they are more of an issue in quantitative research  External validity has considerable relevance to both qualitative and quantitative work, but the representativeness of samples has a more obvious application to the latter.  Lincoln and Guba (1985) recommend trustworthiness  Credibility, which parallels measurement and internal validity – did the investigator allow personal values to ruin any chance of intersubjectivity?  Transferability, which parallels external validity – do the findings apply to other people and other contexts?  Dependability, which parallels reliability – are the findings likely to be consistent over time?  Confirmability, which parallels Replicability – would another investigator reach the same conclusions? Research Designs 1. Experimental Design  True experiments are fairly rare, but may found in social psychology and studies of organization, or social 12 policy  a true experiment is often used as a yardstick against which non-experimental research is measured  experiment is the best way to establish causality,  strong on determining whether and to what degree a particular variable or set of variables affects the phenomenon being studied, thus true experiments tend to be very high in internal validity Manipulation  Experiments manipulate an independent variable to determine its influence on a dependent variable. One is ‘treatment group’ of which the independent variable is changed or manipulated, while others are in ‘control group’ where no manipulation takes place  However, many of the independent variables of concern cannot be manipulated  Ethical concerns usually preclude them  They can only provide relatively simple, short-term manipulations of independent variables. Many of the things of interest to sociologists (gender, political preferences, formation of social movement) have complex, long-term causes that cannot be easily simulated in experiments Classic Experimental Design  Subjects are randomly assigned to 2 groups  The experiment manipulation is the experimental group or treatment group  The other group is not given the treatment and thus forms a control group  The dependent variable is measured before the experimental manipulation to make sure that the two groups really are, on average, equal at the start  Confidence in differences in student performance found between the two groups after the manipulation  Obs: observation made of the dependent variable: the pre-test and post-test  Exp: experimental treatment (independent variable. No Exp: absence of an experimental treatment and represents the experience of the control group  T : timing of the observations made in relation to the dependent variable Classic Experimental Design and validity  The presence of a control group and the random assignment of subjects to the experimental and control groups help to eliminate the rival explanations of a causal finding.  These procedures contribute to the study’s internal validity  List of threats under no control group and random assignment:  History – events occurred other than the manipulation.  Testing – the possibility that subjects may become more experienced at taking a test or sensitized to the aims of the experiment as a result of the pre-test The presence of a control group, which presumably would also experience the same things, diminishes this possibility 13  Instrumentation – the possibility that changes in the way a test is administered can account for an increase/decrease in scores between a pre-test and post-test  Threats that have nothing to do with the control group:  Mortality – problem of subjects leaving the experiment before it is over, found especially in studies that span a long period of time. Although it may not make a difference to the result as it happen the same in the control group, experimenters should try to determine whether mortality has affected them differently  Maturation – people change over time and may have implications for the independent variable  Selection – when subjects are not assigned by a random process, variations between them in the post-test may be due to pre-existing differences between the 2 groups  With the control group, one can say that history should have an effect on the control subjects too and therefore differences between the differences can be attributed to the independent variables  Face validity – appear to correspond to what they are supposed to be measured  Does it really measure what it is supposed to measure? Did the identification create the conditions need for the hypothesis to be tested? Is the research externally valid?  List of threats to the external validity  Interaction of selection and treatment – to what social and psychological groups can a finding be generalized? (to a wide variety of individuals who differ in ethnicity, social class, religion gender and type of personality?  Interaction o
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