Intro to Soc - 1/17 Sociology the science that aims at...

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1/17 Sociology – the science that aims at interpretive understanding of social behavior to gain explanation of its causes, course, and effects We think we know why we act the way we do. But there are boundaries to our self-knowledge Sociology helps us look beyond the surface of action and study the social content in order to understand our lives Unlike objects in nature, humans are self-aware beings who confer sense and purpose on what they do. We are inherently meaning-seeking creatures. We don’t know what to do without meaning; we often think of ending our life. Sociologist’s Line of Questions: 1. Factual question – What happened? 2. Comparative – Did this happen elsewhere? 3. Developmental – Has this happened over time? 4. Theoretical – What underlies these phenomena? Why does this occur? Different Levels of Sociological Analysis: Microsociological – concerned w study of everyday behavior in situations of face-to-face interaction Macrosociological – concerned w analysis of large-scale social systems, like political system or economic order; how did we get here? Sociologists are concerned w aggregates Individuals’ stories server understanding of the collective Many soc. Look at the world in terms of variables – meaningful attributes or characteristics of persons that vary from person to person Sociologists are out to test knowledge scientifically – both logically and empirically Is Sociology a Science? Science : empirical observation, analysis of data, theoretical thinking, logical assessment of arguments to develop a body of knowledge about a particular subject matter Soc. Thinking is always contested , much more than theories in natural sciences. Why? Interpretive, complex humans not easy to predict, a lot more choice, difficult to explain why we do what we do Yet unlike other animals, humans have self-consciousness Non-rational Foundations of Society: Sociology is not based on reason. - Collective action and contracts are not rational (we free-ride) - Marriage is hardly rational (not 50-50, but still good) - Rational people and policies disagree What about the ways we want things to be? Social science can tell us what we do, and perhaps why. They do not tell us what we ought to want . Common Errors in Scientific Inquiry: 1. Inaccurate observations 2. Selective observation 3. Overgeneralization
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Traditional Scientific Method: 1. Theory 2. Operationalization (Specifying how one intends carry out) 3. Observations Focusing our Research: Research questions are specific questions we ask mentally about relationships among concepts A hypothesis is a specified testable expectation about empirical reality that follows from a more general proposition or research question Types of Quantitative Research: Surveys – (but people won’t answer, not totally accurate, must be exact same question to all)
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This note was uploaded on 03/04/2009 for the course SOC 302 taught by Professor Langenkamp during the Spring '08 term at University of Texas at Austin.

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Intro to Soc - 1/17 Sociology the science that aims at...

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