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201.04 Sociological Research Methods

201.04 Sociological Research Methods - Sociological...

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Sociological Research Methods and Techniques © 2010 Alan S.Berger 1
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2 Sociological Research Topics Sociologists: – Study the influence that society has on people’s attitudes and behavior – Seek to understand ways in which people interact and shape society © 2010 Alan S.Berger
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3 Sociology and Common Sense Sociologists do not accept something as fact because “everyone knows it” Findings are tested by researchers, analyzed in relation to other data, and evaluated with sociological theory © 2010 Alan S.Berger
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© 2010 Alan S.Berger 4 What Good Is Sociological Theory? Theory : set of statements that seeks to explain problems, actions, or behavior Effective theories have explanatory and predictive power Durkheim’s work on suicide provides a classic case of sociological theory at work
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© 2010 Alan S.Berger 5 o The scientific method includes selecting a researchable problem, reviewing the literature, formulating a hypothesis, creating an operational definition, choosing a research design, collecting the data, analyzing the data, and stating conclusions. o It is important that sociologists observe the ethics of their discipline in carrying out research. They have an obligation to protect their research subjects from risk and harm and to protect these subjects’ rights and dignity . Sociological Research Method and Ethics
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6 Sociology and Science ● Sociology is a type of science , a logical system that bases knowledge on direct, systematic observation. - Scientific sociology is the study of society based on systematic observation of social behavior. - Scientific knowledge is based on empirical evidence, information we can verify with our data, not common sense. Scientific evidence sometimes contradicts common sense explanations of social behavior. -It is not what we do not know that get us into trouble, it is what we know that is not true. Is there such a thing as objective reality?? © 2010 Alan S.Berger
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© 2010 Alan S.Berger 7 Research, Values, and Biases Sociologists strive for objectivity , a state of personal neutrality in conducting research, whenever possible following Max Weber’s model of value-free research. -One way to limit distortion caused by personal values is through replication , repetition of research by others in order to assess its accuracy. -More about this later. Limitations of scientific sociology. -Human behavior is too complex to allow sociologists to predict precisely any individual’s actions. - Because humans respond to their surroundings, the mere presence of a researcher may affect the behavior being studied. ● Social patterns change; what is true in one time or place may not hold true in another.
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© 2010 Alan S.Berger 8 ● Because sociologists are part of the social world they study, being value-free when conducting social research is difficult.
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