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SOC200H1 Lecture 2.docx

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Eric Fong

SOC200H1 Logic of Social Inquiry 1 September 20, 2011 Lecture 2 The Practice of Social Research Introduction - The logic of social inquiry – how we do research Can’t have the same situation happen twice – for example doing a survey this class compared to next class – factors change, it is difficult for social scientists to do research because of this fact. We need to know what people have been talking about in order to engage in a conversation, can’t just jump into a conversation with a completely different topic. The better you can understand the better you can grasp the issue, and the better your research. When you think about research you think of a philosopher sitting down and thinking about different kinds of issues – just by pondering an issue we can come up with a better solution? Yes, by considering all kinds of factors can help us but still need to show if thinking is correct or not. When we think about what we want to do for research – always have to bear in mind how you’re going to test what you’re going to do. You sit down and consider all different ideas. Can also just go out and talk to people in order to find out what they think about a topic. Finally, as a social scientist may have techniques/statistics to help us understand patterns and general ideas of what’s going on in social world? What is reality of social world? Outline - Looking for reality o How do we know about reality? Reality is very complicated. In early yeas before university there were philosophers who know about math and philosophy and art – know everything but world has become more complicated – more we know the more we need to separate reality. Therefore we have scientists to study different areas – Same goes for social science. To understand social world, not just focusing on your area but you need to have a broader perspective. Because reality is complicated we have to separate it into different segments. o Scientific criteria  Logical – in a sense that logic we learn is very fundamental to understand the social world. For example: talking with friends is subset of social interaction/daily activities. What is proposed has to be logical and consistent.  Empirical – things that are proposed can be tested with data in the real world. SOC200H1 Logic of Social Inquiry 2 September 20, 2011 Lecture 2 - Ordinary human inquiry o Observation – things occur around you, two kinds of relationships:  Causal: future circumstances or events are determined by the present circumstances or events  Probabilistic: future circumstances or events are more likely to occur with the present circumstances or events – when one thing occurs most likely another will follow for example, speeding will lead to higher chance of car accident o Functions: why we want to do it? To find out things around us  Understanding  Prediction – not only do we want to understand, we want to predict – want to understand so you can predict what will happen next – satisfy our uncertainty and make us feel like we’re more in control o Tradition – how ordinary person finds out things around them, tradition is something we always use to determine whether something is right or wrong? In the past people do it like this – if I’m going to do it like this I will likely have similar results  Advantages:  Cumulative – knowledge is cumulative  Disadvantages:  Prevent to see alternative perspectives because we always see that this is the way of doing it.  Extra effort to deconstruct traditional view, once you accept view it is difficult to deconstruct. o Authority  Affected by the status  Disadvantages:  Wrong perspective and provide wrong information  Misuse of authority – medical doctor commenting on something political – step out of their authority o Inquiry: Errors and Solutions  Inaccurate observations – we see and collect inaccurate information, therefore come out with a conclusion that is wrong  Measurement devices help this by adding precision  Overgeneralization – don’t want to assume what is true for one is true for all  Replication – repeat a study to make sure that the same results are produced each time.  Selective observation – only selecting certain groups, you miss out on other ones and findings may not be completely accurate for all groups.  Make an effort to find cases that do not fit general pattern  Illogical reasoning – sometimes we are not considering if it’s a logical way when reading or thinking about issues  Use systems of logic explicitly SOC200H1 Logic of Social Inquiry 3 September 20, 2011 Lecture 2 - Use of social research – suggests three ways: o Exploratory research (explore) o Descriptive research (describe) o Explanatory research (explain): most often used - Foundations of social science o A scientific understanding of the world, must make sense and correspond with what we observe o Both are essential and relate to three major aspects of the overall scientific enterprise: theory, data collection, and data analysis o Theory -  What is, not what should be  Not about value  Elements  Concepts – building blocks of a theory  Concept clusters – associated concepts that are consistent and mutually reinforcing’ form a web of meaning. For example,
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