Sociology Exam 2 Notes - Word of the Day 11:12:00 AM...

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2/5/08 05/02/2008 10:12:00 Word of the Day Hypothesis o An educated guess of what will occur. You hypothesize that X causes Y. The Logic of Sociological Research Sociological research typically begins with an explanatory question. o Why did capitalism arise in the west? o Why do people commit suicide? o Why did social revolutions occur in France, Russia, and China and not Germany? o What causes homelessness? o An Explanatory question is a WHY question. Why did attendance at private academies rise so dramatically in Mississippi from 1969 to 1971? o Public education in the south was segregated. o Public schools would rather be shut down than integrate blacks. Sociologists then devise theories about the answer to their question? o For example, why the surge in attendance at private academies in Mississippi? Racial competition Legal pressure Mobilization of the civil rights movement Counter-mobilization by the white supremacists Each of these theories can be cast in the form of a testable hypothesis.
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o Increased competition for public education from blacks leads to higher PA attendance. o Greater legal pressure for desegregation leads to higher PA attendance. o Greater mobilization of the civil rights movement leads to higher PA attendance. Notice that each hypothesis has two parts X Y o The first part, x, is the independent variable. This variable is considered the cause of something else. o The second part, y, is called the dependant variable. This variable is considered the effect of the independent variable. Y depends on X. Types of Variables o Continuous variables can take on a large range of values – e.g., income, age. Continuous variables are measured on an interval scale o Categorical variables can take on only a limited number of values, e.g., education. Ordinal (e.g., agree, don’t know, disagree) Nominal (e.g., religion) o Dummy Variables are categorical variables that can take on only two valued – e.g., gender. To test a hypothesis, sociologists collect empirical data. This requires them to operationalize their hypothesis. There are two main typed of data that a sociologist can collect. o Experimental: Gold Standard, not often feasible. o Non-experimental: less definitive, often feasible. Experimental Method o Many branches of science, including some of the social sciences, use the o Used in clinical drug trials to help medical researchers determine whether a particular drug is effective. o How to carry out experimental method. 1. A representative sample is drawn from the population of interest.
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The drug regimen being studies is randomly assigned to individuals in the sample. Random assignment is essential to minimize bias; it permits the attribution of casualty to the drug.
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