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Chapter 5 outline - Chapter 5 How Sociologists Do Research...

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Chapter 5: How Sociologists Do Research What Is A Valid Sociological Topic? Sociologists do research on just about every aspect of human behavior Macro level study broad matters such as race relations, corporations and military Micro level study individualistic matters such as interactions on the street Common Sense and the Need for Sociological Research Research needs to be done to test common sense ideas For example: common sense says abuse from a spouse has significant impact on the lives of the people who are abused (true!) o Common sense also says that if a woman is being abused, she will pack up and leave her husband o Some women do leave right away, other suffer for years o Shows the need for sociological research so we know why women put up with this abuse A Research Model (8 Basic Steps of Scientific Research) 1. Selecting a Topic What do you want to know? What drives your curiosity? Sociologists become interested in a particular topic based on funding or prominence in the news Sociologists want to better understand this topic and perhaps solve the issue 2. Defining the Problem Specifying what you want to learn about the topic Usually examine a specific aspect of a topic o How homeless survive on the street, rather than just the homeless as a general topic Topics sociologists study are broad 3. Reviewing the Literature Must read what is published on your topic to narrow down the problem, identify areas that are known and areas that need to be researched May help to pinpoint questions you want to ask 4. Formulating a Hypothesis A hypothesis is a statement of what you expect to find according to predictions from a theory Predicts a relationship between variables (factors that change or vary) from one person or situation to another A hypothesis will need operational definitions , which are precise ways to measure the variables o Ex: “Men who are more socially isolated are more likely to abuse their wives than are men who are more socially integrated” HYPOTHESIS o Ex: social isolation, social integration, and spouse abuse VARIABLES 5. Choosing a Research Method The means by which you collect your data is called a research method or research design o Sociologists use 6 basic methods Choose the best method that will best answer your particular questions 6. Collecting the Data When gathering data, you have to assure their validity (operational definitions much measure what they are intended to measure)
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o Ex: Must be certain you are measuring social isolation, social integration and spouse abuse o Abuse seems to be obvious, but might be considered something different depending on the person Operational definitions must be so precise that no one has any question of what you are measuring Data must be reliable so if other researchers use your operational definitions, their findings will be consistent with yours 7. Analyzing the Results
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