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Lecture 2 PowerPoint - POL 2156B FOUNDATIONS OF RESEARCH...

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POL 2156B FOUNDATIONS OF RESEARCH Studying Politics “Scientifically”: Empirical Political Research
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LECTURE PLAN The Positivist Tradition: Politics and the Scientific Method Activity Criticisms and Alternatives Objections to the Positivist View Alternative Research Approaches Quantitative and Qualitative Research Methods: A Comparison The Field Study Assignment
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A RESTATEMENT "Social research is the systematic observation of social life for the purpose of finding and understanding patterns among what is observed" - Babbie, The Practice of Social Research
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EPISTEMOLOGY AND “SCIENCE” Epistemology is “The study of knowledge and, especially, the study of how we distinguish valid from invalid claims to knowledge” (McIntyre, 2005) There are many ways of knowing: authority, tradition, common sense, logic. What constitutes privileged knowledge varies from culture to culture, and from time to time.
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EPISTEMOLOGY AND “SCIENCE” Science is usually privileged over common sense, tradition, and religious revelation. When science and these other forms of knowing come into conflict, science usually emerges as the winner. Why is the scientific method viewed as the correct way of knowing by so many people? Why is systematic empirical observation thought of as “right”? The obvious response might be that “it works”. But just because it works doesn’t mean it will be accepted. In any culture, any claim to knowing something is more likely to be accepted if it seems to fit with how people generally make sense of the world in that social context.
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THE “POSITIVIST” APPROACH TO KNOWLEDGE Empirically Verified A claim must be supported by observation. Theories are accepted as true without hard evidence to support them. Falsifiable A claim must be constructed in a way that it can be rejected through observation. Probabilistic It is not necessary to explain and predict phenomena completely, with 100 percent accuracy.
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THE “POSITIVIST” APPROACH TO KNOWLEDGE Transmissable Research uses explicit, public methods to generate and analyze evidence. Cumulative Research today builds on knowledge accumulated in the past. Researchers work to improve theories, and to improve methods for testing those theories. General The job of science is not to explain a single event, but many cases. Knowledge that describes, explains, or predicts many different occurrences of phenomena are more valuable than those which explain a single phenomenon.
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THE “POSITIVIST” APPROACH TO KNOWLEDGE Explanatory The ultimate goal of science is causal explanations (e.g. when X occurs, it is followed by Y). Parsimony The most highly valued scientific explanations are simple ones.
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