Research Methods are tools we use to describe, explore, and explain various social phenomena in ethical fashion o Approaches that social scientists use for investigating the answers to questions Quantitative Methods seek to obtain information about the social world that is already in or can be converted to numeric form o This methodology then uses statistical analysis to describe the social world that those data represent o Some of this analysis attempts to mimic the scientific method of using treatment and control (or placebo) groups to determine how changes in one factor affect another social outcome, while factoring out every other simultaneous event Qualitative Methods, of which there are many, attempt to collect information about the social world that cannot be readily converted to numeric form. o The information gathered with this approach is often used to document the meanings that actions engender in social participants or to describe the mechanisms by which social processes occur Both quantitative and qualitative research approaches provide ways to establish a causal relationship between social elements Research 101 The general goal of sociology is to allow us to see how our individual lives are intimately related to (and, in turn, affect) the social forces that exist beyond us Once you pick a question to investigate, there are two ways to approach research: deductively and inductively o Deductive approach is a research approach that starts with a theory, forms a hypothesis, makes empirical observations, and then analyzes the data to confirm, reject, or modify the original theory o Inductive approach is a research approach that starts with empirical observations and t hen works to confirm, reject, or modify the original theory Causality versus Correlation Correlation/association : simultaneous variation in two variables To say that two things are correlated is very different from stating that one causes the other o Eg. Lower income Poor health o You could conversely say that higher income leads to better health because you can afford better doctors, etc. Poor health We could also include a third factor that causes both income and health to very in the same direction o Eg. Reckless tendencies (driving fast cars, wine, and late nights) R V CHAPTER TWO: METHODS
o These tendencies could negatively affect our health and potentially our income if we are unable to get to work on time or are spending too much money on cars In this scenario, if we merely observe health and income, it may appear as if one causes the other, but the truth of the matter is they are not related in the slightest apart from being connected through a third factor We can rule out many third factors by measuring them and then comparing individuals who are similar in that particular respect (like education level) but differ in other key regards (say income) o Other factors may not be so easy to measure, in these cases we might look for a natural experiment
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- Spring '08
- Sociology, researcher