Textbook Babbie ch. 1

Textbook Babbie ch. 1 - “f a :iigéliberatf,‘and...

Info iconThis preview shows pages 1–16. Sign up to view the full content.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
Background image of page 1

Info iconThis preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full DocumentRight Arrow Icon
Background image of page 2
Background image of page 3

Info iconThis preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full DocumentRight Arrow Icon
Background image of page 4
Background image of page 5

Info iconThis preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full DocumentRight Arrow Icon
Background image of page 6
Background image of page 7

Info iconThis preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full DocumentRight Arrow Icon
Background image of page 8
Background image of page 9

Info iconThis preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full DocumentRight Arrow Icon
Background image of page 10
Background image of page 11

Info iconThis preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full DocumentRight Arrow Icon
Background image of page 12
Background image of page 13

Info iconThis preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full DocumentRight Arrow Icon
Background image of page 14
Background image of page 15

Info iconThis preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full DocumentRight Arrow Icon
Background image of page 16
This is the end of the preview. Sign up to access the rest of the document.

Unformatted text preview: “f a :iigéliberatf,‘and rigorous unqe __ , $ statistical-analyses,-but bitten it does not. examine is" " these and other traits infthis opening setpf chapters. " q ‘ ‘,Dr.' Benjamin space; the renowned author and pedi- E "atrician, began his on childcare by assuring new a parents that they already know more about child care "than theythink theybdoflf’war’i‘t toébeginthis book on a C T§F ‘difticu howeverf'to specify, xactly what “(I ' >: I Scientists therhs ,’ g k u" a”. :4 <0 z-c 3 "Ex. 'r (4-. E0 he purposes of,P this book w’elook‘at silence as rning and knowing a methbdaof inquiry ‘ way of tea a 3m w 9 ways of learning and knowing ab s thrn‘giabouttheworld aro'undjii's Contrasteqwtth‘other; "3'; ‘ c'ienceU” N wee 7 21-02! has"somefispecialkharacteristics. It is a conscious, ” n age a»: Elves disagree orig proper definition. I )2 .5 , v.0: _.'_,g: Swat-trues it uses v.‘ ""‘ r.- if}: similar noteiBe'fore youfve readivré'ry far, you will realize thati‘you already know a great degl about the practice of socj_awr‘esearch.‘ln fact, yolrjv‘e been conducting research all your life. From that perspectivehthe purpose of this by: lgjs to'helpryou'sha‘rpEn skills you already have and ‘ Zpe‘rhaps t6 show you sgrn;g_tricks that may not have occUrred to‘Fyou. Part 1 of this book lays the groundwork fof'the rest of the book by examining the fundamental characteris- tics and issuesithat make science__difierent from other ways of knowing things: in Chapter la, we‘ll begin with a look at native human inquiry, the sort of thing you’ve been doing all your life. ‘ln the course or that examina- tion, we’ll see some of the ways people go astray in trying to understand the world around them, and I’ll summarize the primary characteiistics of scientific inquiry that guard against those errors. Chapter 2 deals with sbcial theories and the links between theory and research. We’ll look at some of the ntrocluction to lnqurry theoretical paradigms that shape the nature of inquiry and that largely determine what scientists look for and how they interpret what they see. Whereas most of this book deals with the scientific concerns of social research, Chapter 3 introduces two other important concerns: the ethics and politics of research. Researchers are governed by a set of ethical constraints that reflect ideals and values aimed at help- ing, not harming, people. Social research is also shaped by the fact that it operates within the political codes and systems of the societies it seeks to study and under- stand. These two topics appear throughout the book as critical components of social research. .The overall purpose of Part 1 is to construct a backdrop against which to view the specifis of research design and execution. After completing Part 1, you‘ll be ready to look at some of the more concrete aspects of social research. Introduction Looking for Reality Knotvledge from Agreement Reality Errors in Inquiry, and Some Solutions What’s Really REal? The'Foundations of Social Science; Theory, NotrPhilosophy or Belief Social Regula'rities Aggregates, Not Individuals Concepts and Variables CengageNOW tor Sociology rrResearch; e They-Eur of .Sgcilal: morainesofniimanj‘iiliairy ‘SoqieTDialecti‘cs: i arsenal Research, l ‘ ‘ Idiographic and Nomothetic, Explanation: J r I l l . - l Inductive aria Deductive 7 ‘ Theory ‘ l ': r . n ‘ Qualitative and I Quantitative. Data :Pure and Applied Research 1 e97.»- H The? ResEarch?roposal Use this onllne tool to help you make the grade on your next exam. After reading this chapter, go to ‘Online Study Resources’ at the k n how to benefit from CengangOlrt’. end of the chapter for instructions 0 a: , Introduction This book is about knowing things—not so much what we know as how we know it. Let's start by ex- amining a few things you probably know already. You know the world is round. You probably also lmow it's cold on the dark side of the moon, and you know people speak Chinese in China. You know that vitamin C can prevent colds and that unprotected sex can result in AIDS. How do you know? Unless you’ve been to the dark side of the moon lately or done experimental research on the virtues of vitamin C, you know these things because somebody told them to you, and you believed what you were told. You may have read in National Geographic that people speak Chinese languages in China, and because that made sense to you, you didn't question it. Perhaps your physics or astronomy instructor told you it was cold on the dark side of the moon, or maybe you heard it on National Public Radio (NPR). Some of the things you know seem absolutely obvious to you. If someone asked you how you know the world is round, you'd probably say, "Everybody knows that.” There are a lot of things everybody knows. Of course, everyone used to "know" that the world was flat. Most of what you and I knowis a matter of agreement and belief. Little of it is based on personal experience and discovery A big part of growing up in any society, in fact, is the process of learning to aCCept what everybody around us “knows” is so. If you don't know those same things. you can’t really be a part of the group. If you were to question seriously whether the world is really round, you'd quickly find yourself set apart from other people. You might be sent to live in a hospital with other people who question things like that. Although most of what we know is a matter of believing what we’ve been told, there is noth— ing wrong with us in that respect. It's simply the way human societies are structured, and it’s a quite useful quality. The basis of knowledge is agree- ment. Because we can't learn all we need to know by means of personal experitfice and discovery alone, things are set up so we can simply believe whatnthers tell us. We know some things through tradition and some things from "experts." I‘m not saying you should never question this received knowledge; l'mjust drawing your attention to the way you and society normally get along regarding what's so. There are other ways of knowing things, however. In contrast to knowing things through agreement, we can know them through direct experience—through observation. If you dive into a glacial stream flowing through the Canadian Rockies, you don't need anyone to tell you it's cold. The first time you stepped on a thorn, you knew it hurt before anyone told you. when our experience conflicts with what ev- eryone else knows, though, there's a good chance we'll surrender our experience in favor of the agreement. Let’s take an example. Imagine you've come to a party at my house. It’s a high-class affair, and the drinks and food are excellent. In particular, you're taken by one of the appetizers I bring around on a tray: a breaded, deep-fried appetizer that's especially zesty. You have a couple—they're so delicious! You have more. Soon you're subtly mov- ing around the room to be wherever I am when I arrive with a tray of these nibblies. Finally, you can't contain yourself any more. “What are they?” you ask. “How can I get the rec- ipe?” And I let you in on the secret: “You’ve been eating breaded, deep-fried worms!” Your response is dramatic: Your stomach rebels, and you throw up all over the living-room rug. Argh! What a terrible thing to serve guests! The point of the story is that both of your feelings about the appetizer were quite real. Your initial liking for them, based on your own direct experience, was certainly real. But so was your feeling of disgust when you found out that you'd been eating worms. It should be evident, however, that this feeling of disgust was strictly a product of the agreements you have with those around you 4 I Chapter 1: Human Inquiry and Science that worms aren't fit to eat. That's an agreement you entered into the first time your parents found you sitting in a pile of dirt with half of a wriggling worm dangling from your lips. When they pried your mouth open and reached d0wn your throat in search of the other half of the worm, you learned that worms are not acceptable food in our society. Aside from these agreements, what’s wrong with worms? They are probably high in protein and low in calories. Bite—sized and easily packaged. they are a distributor's dream. They are also a deli- cacy for some people who live in societies that lack our agreement that worms are disgusting. Some people might love the worms but be turned off by the deep-fried breeding. Here's another question to consider: "Are worms ‘reaily' good or ‘really‘ bad to eat?" And here's a more interesting question: “How could you know which was really so?” This book is about answering the second kind of question. The rest of this chapter looks at how we know what is real. We'll begin by examining inquiry as a natural human activity, something we all have engaged in every day of our lives. We'll look at the source of everyday knowledge and at some kinds of errors we make in normal inquiry. We'll then examine what makes science—4n particular, social science—different. After considering some of the underlying ideas of social research, we'll conclude with an initial consideration of issues in social research. Looking for Reality Reality is a tricky business. You probably already suspect that some of the things you “know” may not be true, but how can you really know what’s real? People have grappled with this question for thousands of years. epistemology The science of knowing: systems of knowledge. methodology The science of finding out; proce- dures for scientific investigation. Knowledge from Agreement Reality One answer that has arisen out of that grappling is Scienoe, which offers an approach to both agree- ment reality and experiential reality. Scientists have certain criteria that must be met before they will accept the reality of something they have not per- Sonally experienced. in general, a scientific asser- tion must have both logical and empirical support: It must make sense, and it must not contradict actual observation. Why do earthbound scientists accept the assertion that the dark side of the moon is cold? First, it makes sense, because the moon's surface heat comes from the sun's rays, and the dark side of the moon is dark because it's always turned away from the sun. Second, scientific mea- surements made on the moon’s dark side confirm this logical expectation. So. scientists accept the reality of things they don’t personally experience— they accept an agreement reality—but they have special standards for doing so. More to the point of this book, however, sci- ence offers a special approach to the discovery of reality through personal experience. In other words, it offers a Special approach to thebusiness of inquiry. Epistemology is the science of knowing: methodology (a subfield of epistemology) might be called the science of finding out. This book presents and examines social science methodol- ogy, or how social scientists find out about human social life. Why do we need social science to discover the reality of social life? To find out, let's start by con- sidering what happens in ordinary, nonscientific inquiry. Ordinary Human inquiry Practically all people, and many other animals as well, exhibit a desire to predict their future circumstances. Humans seem predisposed to un- dertake this task by using causal and probabilistic reasoning. First, We generally recognize that future circumstances are somehow caused or conditioned by present ones. We learn that getting an education will affect how much money we earn later in life and that swimming beyond the reef may bring an unhappy encounter with a shark. Sharks, on the other hand—whether or not they reason the mat- ter th rough—may learn that hanging around the reef often brings a happy encounter with unhappy swimmers. Second, we also learn that such patterns of cause and effect are probabilistic. That is, the ef- fects occur more often when the causes occur than when the causes are absent—but not always. Thus, students learn that studying hard produces good grades in most instances. but not every time. We recognize the danger of swimming beyond the reef, without believing that every such swim will be fatal. As we’ll see throughout the book, science makes these concepts of causality and probability more explicit and provides techniques for dealing with them more rigorously than casual human inquiry does. It sharpens the skills we already have by making us more conscious. rigorous, and explicit in our inquiries. In looking at ordinary human inquiry, we need to distinguish between prediction and understand- ing. Often, we can make predictions without un- derstanding—perhaps you can predict rain when your trick knee aches. And often, even if we don’t understand why, we're willing to act on the basis of a demonstrated predictive ability. A racetrack buff who discovers that the third-ranked horse in, the third race of the day always seems to win will probably keep betting without knowing, or caring, why it works out that way. of course, the drawback in predicting without understanding will become powerfully evident when one of the other horses wins and our buff loses a week's pay. Whatever the primitive drives or instincts that motivate human beings and other animals, satisfy- ing these drives depends heavily on the ability to predict future circumstances. For people, however, the attempt to predict is often placed in a context of knowledge and understanding. If you can under— stand why things are related to each other, why certain regular patterns occur, you can predict bet- ter than if you simply observe and remember those patterns. Thus, human inquiry aims at answering both “what” and “why” questions, and we pursue these goals by observing and figuring out. Looking for Reality I 5 As I suggested earlier in this chapter, our at- tempts to learn about the world are only partly linked to direct personal inquiry or experience. An- other, much larger, part comes from the agreed-on knowledge that others give us, those things "every- one knows.” This aggeement reality both assists and hinders our'afempts to find out for ourselves. To see how, consider two important sources of our secondhand knowledge—tradition and authority. Tradition Each of us inherits a culture made up, in part, of firmly accepted knowledge about the workings of the world and the values that guide our participa- tion in it. We may learn from others that planting corn in the spring will garner the greatest assistance from the gods, that eating too much candy will decay our teeth, that the circumference of a circle is approximately twenty-two sevenths of its diam- eter, or that masturbation will blind us. Ideas about gender, race, religion, and different nations that you- learned as you were growing up would [it in this category. We may test a few of these “truths” on our own, but we simply accept the great majority of them. These are the things that "everybody knows." Tradition, in this sense of the term, offers some clear advantages to human inquiry. By accepting what everybody knows, we avoid the overwhelm- ing task of starting from scratch in our search for regularities and understanding. Knowledge is cumulative, and an inherited body of information and understanding is the jumping-off point for the development of more knowledge. We often speak of “standing on the shoulders of giants,” that is, on those of previous generations. At the same time, tradition may hinder human inquiry. if we seek a fresh understanding of some- thing everybody already understands and has always understood, we may be marked as fools for our efforts. More to the point, however. it rarely occurs to most of us to seek a different understand- ing of something we all "know" to be true. agreement reality Those things we "know" as pan of the culture we share with those around us. i i t i E i 6 - Chapter 1: Human inquiry and Science Authority Despite the power of tradition, new knowledge ap- pears every day. Quite aside from our Own personal inquiries, we benefit throughout our lives from new discoveries and understandings produced by others. Often, acceptance of these new acquisitions depends on the status of the discoverer. You're more likely to believe that the common cold can be transmitted through kissing, for example, when you hear it from an epidemiologist than when you hear it from your uncle Pete (unless, of course. he‘s also an epidemiologist). Like tradition, audiority can both assist and hinder human inquiry. We do well to trust the judgment of the person who has special training. expertise, and credentials in a given matter, espe- cially in the face of controversy. At the same time, inquiry can be greatly hindered by the legitimate authorities who err within their own province. Biologists, after all, make their mistakes in the field of biology. Moreover, biological knowledge changes over time. Inquiry is also hindered when we depend on the authority of experts speaking outside their realm of expertise. For example, consider the politi- cal or religious leader with no medical or biochemi- cal expertise who declares that marijuana can fry your brain. The advertising industry plays heavily on this misuse of authority by, for example, having popular athletes discuss the nutritional value of breakfast cereals or having movie actors evaluate the performance of automobiles. Both tradition and authority, then, act as double-edged swords in the search for knowledge about the world. Simply put, they provide us with a starting point for our own inquiry, but they can lead us to start at the wrong point and push us off in the wrong direction. Errors in Inquiry, and Some Solutions Besides the potential dangers of tradition and au- thority, other pitfalls often cause us to stumble and fall when we set out to learn for ourselves. Let's look at some of the common errors we make in our casual inquiries and at the ways science guards against those errors. inaccurate Observations Quite frequently, we make mistakes irt our obser- vations. For example, what was your methodology instructor wearing on the first day of class? If you have to guess, it’s because most of our daily obser- vations are casual and semiconscious. That’s why we often disagree about what really happened. in contrast to casual human inquiry. scientific observation is a conscious activity. Just making observation more deliberate helps reduce error. If you had to guess what your instructor was wear- ing on the first day of class, you’d probably make a mistake. If you'd gone to the first class with a conscious plan to observe and record what your instructor was wearing, however, you'd be far more likely to be accurate. (You might also need a hobby.) In many cases, both simple and complex measurement devices help guard against inaccu- rate observations. Moreover, they add a degree of precision well beyond the capacity of the unassisted human senses. Suppose, for example, that you’d taken color photographs of y0ur instructor that day. (See earlier comment about needing a hobby.) Overgeneraiization When we look for patterns among the specific things we observe around us, we often assume that a few similar events provide evidence of a general pattern. That is, we overgeneralize on the basis of limited observations. (Think back to our now-broke racetrack bull.) Probably the tendency to overgeneraiize peaks when the pressure to arrive at a general under- standing is high. Yet it also occurs without such pressure. Whenever overgerteralization does occur, it can misdirect or impede inquiry. Imagine you are a reporter covering an animal- rights demonstration. You have orders to turn in your story in just two hours, and you need to know why people are demonstrating. Rushing to the scene, you start interviewing them, asking for their reasons. The first three demonstrators you interview give you essentially the same reason, so you simply assume that the other 3,000 are also there for that reason. Unfortunately, when your story appears, .your editor gets scores of letters from.- protesters who were there for an entirely diffeer reason. Scientists often guard against overgeneraliza- tion by committing themselves in advance to a sufficiently large and representative. sample of observations. Another safeguard is provided by the replication of inquiry. Basically, replication means repeating a study and checking to see whether the same results are produced each time. Then, as a further test, the study may be repeated again under slightly varied conditions. Selective Observation One danger of overgeneralization is that it can lead to selective observation. Once we have concluded that a particular pattern exists and have developed a general understanding of why it exists, we tend to focus on future events and situations that fit the pattern, and we tend to ignore those that do not. Racial and ethnic prejudices depend heavily on selective observation for their persistence. sometimes a research design will specify in advance the number and kind of observations to be made as a basis for reaching a conclusion. If we wanted to learn whether women were more likely than men to support freedom to choose an abortion, we would commit ourselves to making a specified number of observations on that question in a research project. We might select a thousand carefully chosen people to be interviewed on the issue. Alternately, when making direct observations of an event, such as attending the animal-rights demonstration, we might make a special etiort to find “deviant cases”—precisely those who do not fit into the general pattern. Concluding that one youth became delinquent largely because of a lack of positive adult role models draws attention to the part that role models play in keeping most youths on the straight and narrow. In this recollection of growing up in rural Vermont, Lewis‘l-iill (2000: 35) presents another example of selective observation: Looking for Reality I 7 Haying began right after the Fourth of July. The farmers in our neighborhood believed that- anyoneivho‘started earlier was sure to suffer all the storms of late June in addition to those following the holiday which the Old-timers said were caused by all the noise and smoke of gunpowder burning. My mother told me that my grandfather and other Civil War veterans claimed it always rained hard after a big battle. Things didn't always work out the way the older residents promised, of course, but every- one remembered only the times they did. iiiogicai Reasoning There are other ways in which we often deal with observations that contradict our understanding of the way things are in daily life. Surely one of the most remarkable creations of the human mind is "the exception that proves the rule.” That idea doesn’t make any sense at all. An exception can draw attention to a rule or to a supposed rule (in its original meaning, "prove" meant “test"), but in no system of logic can it validate the rule it contradicts. Even so, we often use this pithy saying to brush away contradictions with a simple stroke of illogic. What statisticians have called the gamblers fal- lacy is another illustration of illogic in day-to-day reasoning. Often we assume that a consistent run of either good or bad luck foreshadows its oppo- site. An evening of bad luck at poker may kindle the belief that a winning hand is just around the corner. Many a poker player has stayed in a game much too long because of that mistaken belief. Converser an extended period of good weather may lead you to worry that rain will certainly ruin the weekend picnic. Although all of us sometimes fall into embar- rassingly illogical reasoning, scientists try to avoid this pitfall by using systems of logic consciously and explicitly. We’ll examine the logic of science more deeply in Chapter 2. For now, simply note that replication Repeating a research study to test and either confirm or question the findings of an earlier study. 8 I Chapter 1: Human Inquiry and Science logical reasoning is a conscious activity for scientists and that other scientists are always around to keep them honesr. Science, then, attempts to protect its inquiries from the common pitfalls of ordinary inquiry. Accurately observing and understanding reality is not an obvious or trivial matter. Indeed, it’s more complicated than I've suggested. What’s Really Real? Philosophers sometimes use the phrase naive real- ism to describe the way most of us operate in our daily lives. When you sit at a table to write, you probably don’t spend a lot of time thinking about whether the table is made up of atoms, which in turn are mostly empty space. When you step into the street and see a city bus hurtling down on you, it's not the best time to reflect on methods for test- ing whether the bus really exists. We all live with a view that what's real is pretty obvious-wand that view usually gets us through the day. I don’t want this book to interfere with your ability to deal With everyday life. fhope, how- ever, that the preceding discussions have demon- strated that the nature of “reality” is perhaps more complex than we tend to assume in our everyday functioning. Here are three views on reality that will provide a philosophical backdrop for the dis- cussions of science to follow. They are sometimes called premodem, modem, and postmodern views of reality (W. Anderson 1990). The Premodern View This view of reality has guided most of human his- tory. Our early ancestors all assumed that they saw things as they really were. In fact, this assumption was so fundamental that they didn't even see it as an assumption. No cavemom said to her cavekid, “Our tribe makes an assumption that evil spirits reside the Old Twisted Tree." No, she said, “STAY OUT OF THAT TREE OR YOU’LL TURN INTO A TOAD!” As humans evolved and became aware of their diversity. they came to recognize that others did not always share their views of things. Thus, they may have discovered that another tribe didn't buy the wicked tree thing: in fact, the second tribe felt that the spirits in the tree were holy and benefi- cial. The discovery of this diversity led members of the first tribe to conclude that “some tribes I could name are pretty stupid.” For them, the tree was still wicked, and they expected that some misguided people would soon be moving to Toad City. The Modern View What philosophers call the modern view accepts such diversity as legitimate, a philosophical “differ- ent strokes for different folks.” As a modern thinker, you would say, "I regard the spirits in the tree as evil, but I know that others regard them as good. Neither of us is right or wrong. There are simply spirits in the tree. They are neither good nor evil, but differ- ent people have different ideas about them.” Adopting the modern view is easy for most of us. Some might regard a dandelion as a beauti- ful flower, whereas others see only an annoying weed. In the premodem view, a dandelion has to be either one or the other. If you think it is a weed, it is really a weed, though you may admit that some people have a warped sense of beauty. In the modern view, a dandelion is simply a dandelion. It is a plant with yellow petals and green leaves. The Concepts “beautiful flower” and “annoying weed” are subjective points of view imposed on the plant by different people. Neither is a quality of the plant itself, just as “good” and “evil” were concepts im- posed on the spirits in the tree in our example. The Postmodern View Increasingly, philosophers speak of a postmodern view of reality. In this view, the spirits don't exist. Neither does the dandelion. All that's “real” are the images we get through our points of view. Put differently, there's nothing “out there”: it’s all “in here.” As Gertrude Stein said of the city of Oak— land, “There's no there. there.” No matter how bizarre the postmodern view may seem to you on first reflection, it has a certain ironic inevitability. Take a moment to notice the book you are reading: notice specifically what it looks like. Because you are reading these words, it probably looks something like Figure 1- la. Looking for Reality I 9 FIGURE 1-1 A book. All of these are the same book, but it looks different when viewed from different locations, perspectives, or “points of View." FIGURE 1-2 Wife's Point of View. There is no question in the wife's mind as to who is right and rational and who is out of control. Does Figure 1-13 represent the way your book “really” looks? Or does it merely represent what the book looks like front your current point of view? Surely, Figures l-lb, c, and d are equally valid representations. But these views of the book differ greatly from each other. Which is the "reality"? As this example illustrates, there is no answer to the question "What does the book really look like?" All we can offer is the different ways it looks from different points of view. Thus, according to the postmodern view, there is no “book,” only vari- ous images of it from different points of view. And all the different images are equally “true.” Now let’s apply this logic to a social situation. imagine a husband and wife arguing. When she looks over at her quarreling husband, Figure 1-2 is what the wife sees. Take a minute to imagine what " ' i h a you would feel and think if you were the woman “GU M 1-3 in this drawing HOW would You explain 13mm Husband’s Point of View. The husband has a very different your best friend WmI had happened? What song perception of the same set of events, of course. tions to the conflict would Seem appropriate if you were this woman? Of course, what the 'woman’s husband sees is another matter altogether, as shown in Figure 1-3. Take a minute to imagine experiencing the situ- you were an outside observer, watching this ation from his point of view. What thoughts and interaction between a wife and husband. What feelings would you have? How would you tell your would it look like to you now? Unfortunately, best friend what had happened? What solutions would seem appropriate for resolving the conflict? Now consider a third point of view. Suppose 10 I Chapter, 1: Human inquiry and Science we can’t easily portray the third point of view without knowing something about the personal feelings, beliefs, past experiences, and so forth that you would bring to your task as outside observer. (Though i call you an “outside” observer, you would be, of course, observing from inside your own mental system.) To take an extreme example, if you were a confirmed male chauvinist, you’d probably see the fight pretty much the same way that the husband saw it. On the other hand, if you were committed to the view that men are generally unreasonable bums, you’d see things the way the wife saw them in the earlier picture. Imagine that instead you see two unreason- able people quarreling irrationally with each other. Would you see them both as irresponsible jerks, equally responsible for the conflict? Or would you see them as tWo people facing a difficult human situation, each doing the best he or she can to resolve it? ltnagine feeling compassion for them and noticing how each of them attempts to end the hostility, even though the gravity of the problem keeps them fighting. Notice how different these several views are. Which is a “true” picture of what is happening between the wife and the husband? You win the prize if you notice that the personal viewpoint you bring to the observational task will again color your perception of what is happening. The postmodern view represents a critical dilemma for scientists. Although their task is to ob- serve and understand what is “really” happening, they are all human and, as such, bring along per- sonal orientations that will color what they observe and how they explain it. There is ultimately no way people can totally step outside their humanness to see and understand the world as it "really" is—that is, independently of all human viewpoints. Whereas the modern view acknowledges the inevitability of human subjectivity, the postmodern theory A systematic explanation for the observa- tions that relate to a particular aspect of life: juve— nile delinquency, for example, or perhaps social stratification or political revolution. view suggesrs there is actually no "objective" reality to be observed in the first place. There are only out several subjective views. You may want to ponder these three views of reality on your own for awhile. We’ll return to them in Chapter 2 when we focus on specific scientific paradigms. Ultimately, two points will emerge. First, established scientific procedures sometimes allow us to deal effectively with this dilemma —that is, we can study people and help them through their difficulties without being able to view “reality” directly. Second, different philosophical stances suggest a powerful range of possibilities for structuring our research. Let‘s turn now from general philosophical ideas to the foundations of social science approaches to understanding. A consideration of these underpin- nings of social research will prepare the way for our exploration of specific research techniques. The Foundations of Social Science Science is sometimes characterized as logico- empirical. This ungainly term carries an important message: As we noted earlier, the two pillars of sci- ence are logic and observation. That is, a scientific understanding of the world must both make sense and correspond to what we observe. Both elements are essential to science and relate to the three major aspects of the enterprise of social Science: theory, data collection, and data analysis. To oversimplify just a bit, scientific theory deals with the logical aspect of science—providing systematic explanations—whereas data collection deals with the observational aspect Data analysis looks for patterns in observations and, where appro- priate, compares what is logically expected with what is actually observed. Although this book is pri- marily about data collection and data analysis—that is. how to conduct social research—the rest of Part 1 is devoted to the theoretical context of research. Parts 2 and 3 then focus on data collection, and Part 4 offers an introduction to the analysis of data. Underlying the concepts presented in the rest of the book are some fundamental ideas that distinguish social science theory, data collection, and analysis—from other ways of looking at social phenomena. Let's consider these ideas. Theory, Not Philosophy or Belief Today, social theory has to do with what is, not / with what should be. For many centuries, how- ever, social theory did not distinguish between these two orientations. Social philosophers liberally mixed their observations of what happened around them, their speculations about why, and their ideas about how things ought to be. Although modern social researchers may do the same from time to time, as scientists they focus on how things actually are and why. This means that scientific theoryiand, more broadly, science itself-—cannot settle debates about values. Science cannot determine whether capital- ism is better or worse titan socialism; What it cart do is determine how these systems perform, but only in terms of some set of agreed-on criteria. For example, we could determine scientifically whether capitalism or socialism most supports human dignity and freedom only if we first agreed on some measurable definitions of dignity and free- dom. Our conclusions would then be limited to the meanings specified in our definitions. They would have no general meaning beyond that. By the same token, if we could agree that suicide rates, say, or giving to charity were good measures of the qttality of a religion, then we could determine scientifically whether Buddhism or Christianity is the better religion. Again, our conclusion would be inextricably tied to our chosen criteria. As a practical matter, people seldom agree on precise criteria for determining issues of value, so science is seldom useful in settling such debates. In fact, questions like these are so much a matter of opinion and belief that scientific inquiry is often viewed as a threat to what is “already known.” We'll consider this issue in tnore detail in Chapter 12, when we look at evaluation research. As you'll see, researchers have become increasingly involved in studying social programs that reflect ideological points of view, such as affirmative action or welfare reform. One of the biggest problems The Foundations of Social Science I 1 1 they face is getting people to agree on criteria of success and failure. Yet such criteria are essential if social research is to tell us anything useful about matters of value. By analogy, a stopwatch cannot tell us if one sprinter is better than another unless - we first agree thfi speed is the critical criterion. Social science, then, can help us know only what is and why. We can use it to determine what ought to be, but only when people agree on the criteria for deciding what Outcomes are bet- ter than others—an agreement that seldom occurs. As I indicated earlier, even knowing ‘what is and why" is no simple task. Let's tum now to some of the fundamental ideas that underlie social science‘s efforts to describe and understand social reality. Social Regularities In large part, social research aims to find patterns of regularity in social life. Although all the sciences share that aim, it sometimes imposes a barrier for people when they first approach social science. Certainly at first glance the subject matter of the physical sciences seems to be more governed by regularities than does that of the social sciences. A heavy object. fails to earth every time we drop it, but a person may vote for a particular candidate in one election and against that same candidate in the next. Similarly, ice always melts when heated enough, but habitually honest people sometimes steal. Despite such examples, however, social affairs do exhibit a high degree of regularity that research can reveal and theory can explain. To begin with, the tremendous number of for- mal norms in society create a considerable degree of regularity. For example, traffic laws in the United States induce the vast majority of people to drive on the right side of the street rather than the left. Registration requirements for voters lead to some predictable patterns in which classes of people vote in national elections. Labor laws create a high degree of uniformity in the minitnum age of paid workers as well as the minimum amount they are paid. Such formal prescriptions regulate, or regular- ize, social behavior. 12 I Chapter 1 : Human Inquiry and Science Aside from formal prescriptions, we can ob- serve other social norms that create more regu- larities. Among registered voters, Republicans are more likely than Democrats to vote for Republican candidates. University professors tend to earn more money than unskilled laborers do. Men tend to earn more than women. And so on. Three objections are sometimes raised in regard to such social regularities. First, some of the regu- larities may seem trivial. For example, Republicans vote for Republicans: everyone knows that. Second, contradictory cases may be cited, indicating that the “regularity” isn’t totally regular. Some laborers make more money than some professors do. Third, it may be argued that, unlike the heavy objects that cannot decide not to fall when dropped, the people involved in the regularity could upset the whole thing if they wanted to. Let’s deal with each of these objections in turn. The Charge of Triviality During World War 11, Samuel Stouffer, one of the greatest social science researchers, organized a research branch in the U.S. Army to conduct studies in support of the war effort (Stouffer et al. 1949—1950). Many of the studies focused on the morale among soldiers. StOuffer and his colleagues found there was a great deal of “common wisdom” regarding the bases of military morale. Much of their research was devoted to testing these "obvi- ous” truths. For example, people had long recognized that promotions affect morale in the military. When military personnel get promotions and the promo- tion system seems fair, morale rises. Moreover, it makes sense that people who are getting promoted will tend to think the system is fair, whereas those passed over will likely think the system is unfair. By extension, it seems sensible that soldiers in units with slow promotion rates will tend to think the system is unfair, and those in units with rapid pro- motions will think the system is fair. But was this the way they really felt? Stouffer and his colleagues focused their studies on two units: the Military Police (MP5), which had the slowest promotions in the Army, and the Army Air Corps (forerunner of the US. Air Force), which had the fastest promotions. 1t stood to reason that MPs would say the promotion system was unfair, and the air corpsmen would say it was fair. The studies, however, showed just the opposite. Notice the dilemma faced by a researcher in a situation such as this. On the one hand, the ob— servations don't seem to make sense. On the other hand, an explanation that makes obvious good sense isn't supported by the facts. A lesser person would have set the prob- lem aside “for further study.” Stouffer, however, looked for an explanation for his observations, and eventually he found it. Robert Merton and other sociologists at Columbia University had begun thinking and writing about something they called reference group theory. This theory says that people judge their lot in life less by objective conditions than by comparing themselves with others around them;their reference group. For example, if you lived among poor people, a salary of $50,000 a year would make you feel like a millionaire. But if you lived among people who earned $500,000 a year, that same $50,000 salary would make you feel impoverished. Stouffer applied this line of reasoning to the soldiers he had studied. Even if a particular MP had not been promoted for a long time, it was unlikely that he knew some less-deserving person who had gotten promoted more quickly. Nobody got pro- moted in the MP5. Had he been in the Air Corps— even if he had gotten several promotions in rapid- successionihe would probably have been able to point to someone less deserving who had gotten even faster promotions. An MP's reference group, then, was his fellow MPs, and the air corpsman compared himself with fellow corpsmen. Ulti- mately, then, Stouffer reached an understanding of soldiers’ attitudes toward the promotion system that (1) made sense and (2) corresponded to the facts. This story shows that documenting the obvi- ous is a valuable function of any science, physical or social. Charles Darwin coined the phrase fool’s experiment to describe much of his own research— research in Which he tested things that everyone else "already knew.” As Darwin understood, the obvious all too often turns out to be wrong; thus, apparent triviality is not a legitimate objection to any scientific endeavor. What about Exceptions? The objection that there are always exceptions to any social regularity does not mean that the regu- larity itself is unreal or unimportant. A particular woman may well earn more money than most men, but that provides small consolation to the majority of women, who earn less. The pattern still/ exists. Social regularities, in other words, are proba— bilistic patterns, and they are no less real simply because some cases don't fit the general pattern. This point applies in physical science as well as social science. Subatomic physics, for example, is a science of probabilities. In genetics, the mating of a blue-eyed person with a brown-eyed person will probably result in a brown-eyed offSpring. The birth of a blue-eyed child does not destroy the observed regularity, because the geneticist states only that the brown-eyed offspring is more likely and, further, that brown-eyed offSpring will be born in a certain percentage of the cases. The social scientist makes a similar, probabilistic prediction— that women overall are likely to earn less than men. Once a pattern like this is observed, the social scientist has grounds for asking why it exists. People Could interfere Finally, the objection that the conscious will of the actors could upset observed social regularities does not pose a serious challenge to social science. This is true even though a parallel situation does not ap- pear to exist in the physical sciences. (Presumably, physical objects cannot violate the laws of phys- ics, although the probabilistic nature of subatomic physics once led some observers to postulate that electrons had free will.) There is no denying that a religious, right-wing bigot could go to the polls and vote for an agnostic, left-wing African American if he wanted to upset political scientists studying the election. All voters in an election could sud- denly switch to the underdog just to frustrate the pollsters. Similarly, workers could go to work early or stay home from work and thereby prevent the expected rush-hour traffic. But these things do not happen often enough to seriously threaten the observation of social regularities. Social regularities, then, do exist, and social Scientists can detect them and observe their effects. The Foundations of Social Science I 13 When these regularities change over time, social scientists can observe and explain those changes. Aggregates, Not Individuals The regularities of 5076131 life that social scientists study generally reflect the collective behavior of many individuals. Although social scientists often study motivations that affect individuals, the individual as such is seldom the subject of social science. Instead, social scientists create theories about the nature of group, rather than individual, life. Similarly, the objects of their research are typically aggregates, or collections, rather than individuals. Sometimes the collective regularities are amaz- ing. Consider the birthrate. for example. People have babies for a wide variety of personal rea- sons. Some do it because their own parents want grandchildren. Some feel it’s a way of completing their womanhood or manhood. Others want to hold their marriages together, enjoy the experience of raising children, perpetuate the family name, or achieve a kind of immortality. Still others have babies by accident. if you have fathered or given birth to a baby, you could probably tell a much more detailed, id- iosyncratic story. Why did you have the baby when you did, rather than a year earlier or later? Maybe you lost yourjob and had to delay a year before you could afford to have the baby. Maybe you only felt the urge to become a parent after someone close to you had a baby. Everyone who had a baby last year had his or her own reasons for doing so. Yet, despite this vast diversity, and despite the id- iosyncrasy of each individual's reasons, the overall birthrate in a society—the number of live births per 1,000 population—is remarkably consistent from year to year. See Table 1-1 for recent birth- rates for the United States. If the US. birthratc were 15.9, 35.6, 7.8, 28.9, and 16.2 in five successive years, demographers would begin dropping like flies. As you can see, however, social life is far more orderly than that. Moreover, this regularity occurs without society- wide regulation. No one plans how many babies will be born or determines who will have them. You do not need a permit to have a baby; in fact, “revs - - .. t4 Ir Chapter 1: Human inquiry and Science TABLE 1-1 Birthrates, United States: 1 980—2006* W 1980 15.9 1994 15.0 1981 15.8 1995 14.6 1982 15.9 1996 14.4 1983 15.6 1997 14.2 1934 15.6 1993 14.3 1985 15.8 1999 14.2 1986 15.6 2000 14.4 1987 15.7 2001 14.1 1988 16.0 2002 13.9 1989 16.4 2003 14.1 1990 16.7 2004 14.0 1991 16.2 2005 14.0 1992 15.8 2006 14.3 1993 15.4 m “live births per 1,000 population Source: US. Bureau of the Census. Statistical Abstract of the United States (Washington, DC: U.S.Government Printing Office, 20081.1able 17, p. 63. many babies are conceived unexpectedly, and some are borne unwillingly. Social science theories, then, typically deal with aggregated, not individual, behavior. Their purpose is to explain why aggregate patterns of behavior are so regular even when the individuals partici- pating in them may change over time. We could even say that social scientists don't seek to explain people at all. They try to understand the systems in which people operate. the systems that explain why people do what they do. The elements in such a system are not people but variables. Concepts and Variables Our most natural attempts at understanding usu— ally take place at the level of the concrete and idiosyncratic. That's just the way we think. variables Logical sets of attributes. The variable gender is made of up of the attributes male and female. Imagine that someone says to you. ‘Women ought to get back into the kitchen Where they be- long.” You're likely to hear that comment in terms of what you know about the speaker. it it's your old uncle Harry who is also strongly opposed to daylight saving time, zip codes, and personal com- puters, you're likely to think his latest pronounce- meni simply tits into his rather dated point of view about things in general. it, on the other hand, the statement is muttered by an incumbent politician trailing a female challenger in an electoral race, you'll probably explain his comment in a com pletely different way. In both examples. you’re trying to understand the behavior of a particular individual. Social research seeks insights into classes or types of indi- viduals. Social researchers would want to find out about the kind of people who share that view of women's “proper” role. Do those people have other characteristics in common that may help explain their views? Even when researchers focus their attention on a single case study—such as a com unity or a juvenile gang—their aim is to gain insights that would help people understand other communities and other juvenile gangs. Similarly. the attempt to fully understand one individual carries the broader purpose of understanding people or types of people in general. ' when this venture into understanding and explanation ends, social researchers will be able to make sense out of more titan one person. In understanding what makes a group of people hostile to women who are active outside the home, they gain insight into all the individuals who share that characteristic. This is possible because, in an important sense. they have not been studying antiieminists as much as they have been studying antifeminism. It might then turn out that Uncle Harry and the politician have more in common than first appeared. Antifeminism is spoken of as a variable because it varies. Some people display the atti- tude more than others do. Social researchers are interested in understanding the system of variables that causes a partiCular attitude to be Strong in one instance and weak in another. The idea of a system composed of variables may seem rather Strange, so let's look at an analogy. The subject of a physician's attention is the patient. It the patient is ill, the physician‘s purpose is to help the patient get well. By contrast. a medical researcher’s subject matter is different——the vari- ables that cause a disoase, for example. The medical researcher may study the physician’s patient. bu/ let the researcher, that patient is relevant only as a carrier of the disease. That is not to say that medical researchers don’t care about real people. They certainly do. Their ultimate purpose in studying diseases is to protect people from them. But in their research, they are less interested in individual patients than they are in the patterns governing the appearance of the disease. In fact. when they can study a disease meaningfully without involving actual patients. they do so. Social research, then, involves the study of variables and their relationships. Social theories are written in a language of variables, and people get involved only as the “carriers” of those variables. Variables, in turn, have what social researchers call attributes (or categories or values). Attributes are characterisrics or qualities that describe. an object-din this case, a person. Examples include fe- male. Asian, alienated, conservative, dishonest, intelligent, and farmer. Anything you might say to describe yourself or someone else involves an attribute. Variables, on the other hand, are logical sets of attributes. Thus, for example, male and female are attributes, and sex or gender is the variable composed 01 those [WU attributes. The variable attenuation is composed of attributes such as funnel", professor; and truck driver. Social class is a variable composed of a set of attributes such as upper class. middle class, and lower class. Sometimes it helps to think of attributes as the categories that make up a variable. (See Figure 1-4 for a schematic review of what social scientists mean by variables and attributes.) The relationship between attributes and vari- ables lorms the heart of both description and expla- nation in science. For example, we might describe a college class in terms of the variable gender by reporting the observed frequencies of the attributes 1:45;; - _ :--,-.-.-.--,.,-;;’- 2:43.91 * The Foundations of Social Science I -1 5 ;4~~",“-.- ~ - .. . - . Some Common Social Concepts ' Young, middle-aged, olcl Gender Female, male ' Plumber; iraWyer, data-entry clerk . . . Occupation African American, Asian, Caucasian, Latiri'o . . . Race/ethnicity Social class Upper, middle. lower . . . Political views Liberal, conservative F [G U RE 1-4 Variables and Attributes. in social research and theory, bulb variables and attributes represent social concepts. Variables are sets of related attributes (categories, values). male and female: “The class is 60 percent men and 40 percent women.” An unemployment rate can be thought of as a description of the variable employ- mentsratus afa labarfarce in terms oi the attributes employed and unemployed. Even the report of family incamefar a city is a summary of attributes composing that variable: $3,194; $110,980,- 335000; and so forth. Sometimes the meanings of the concepts that lie behind social science concepts are immediately clear. Other times they aren’t. This point is dis- cussed in "The Hardest Hit Was . . ." The relationship between attributes and vari« ables is more complicated in the case of eXplanation and gets to the heart, of the variable language of scientific theory. Here’s a simple example. involving two variables, education and prejudice. For the sake of simplicity, let's assume that the variable education has only two attributes: educated and uneducated. attributes Characteristics of people or things. 16 I Chapter 1: Human Inquiry and Science Cl. In early i982,a deadly storm ravaged the San Francisco Bay Area, leaving an aftermath of death, injuryand property damage. As the mass media sought to highlight the most tragic results of the storm, they sometimes focused on several people who were buried alive in a mud slide in Santa Cruz.0ther times, they covered the plight ofthe 2,900 made homeless in Marin County. Implicitly, everyone wanted to know where the worst damage was donebut the answer was not clearHere are some data describing the results of the storm in two counties: Mario and Santa Cruz. Look overthe comparisons and see ifyou can determine which county was "hardest hit.” Certainly, in terms of the loss of life. Santa Cruz was the"hardest hit"of the two countiesYet more than seven times as many people were injured in Marin as in Santa Cruz; certainty, Marin County was“hardest hit"in that regard. 0r consider the number of homes destroyed (worse in Santa Cruz) or damaged (worse inMarinlzlt matters which you focus on. The same dilemma holds true for the value of the damage done: Should we pay more attention to private damage or public damage? So which county was"hardest hit"? Ultimately, the question as posed has no answer. Although you and I both have images iii our minds about communities that are"devastated”or cdmmunities that are only "lightly touched,”these images are not precise enough to permit rigor— ous measurements. Similarly, let’s give the variable prejudice two attri- butes: prejudiced and unprejudiced. Now let’s suppose that 90 percent of the uned- ucated are prejudiced, and the other 10 percent are unprejudiced. And let’s suppose that 30 percent of the educated people are prejudiced, and the other 70 percent are unprejudiced. This is illustrated in Figure 1-5a. Figure 1-5a illustrates a relationship or associa- tion between the variables education and prejudice. This relationship can be seen in terms of the pairings of attributes on the two variables. There are two predominant pairings: (1) those who are educated and unprejudiced and (2) those who are uneducated and prejudiced. Here are two other useful ways of viewng that relationship. First, let's suppose that we play a game in which we bet on your ability to guess whether a Marin Santa Cruz Business destroyed $1.50 million $56.5 miilion People killed 5 22 People injured 379 50 People displaced 370 400 Homes destroyed 28 135 Homes damaged 2,900 300 Businesses destroyed 25,. it} Businesses damaged 800 35 Private damages $65.1 million $50.0 million Public damages $15.0 million $56.5 million The question can be answered only if we can specify what we mean by"hardest hit."li we measure it by death toll,then Santa Cruz was the hardest hit. If we choose to define the variable in terms of ,people injured and or displaced,then Marin suffered the bigger disaster. The simple fact is that we cannot answer the question without specify— ing exactly what we mean by theterm itordesthi'r, This is a fundamental requirementthatwili arise again and again as we attempt to measure social science variables. Doro source: San Francisco Chronicle, January 13, 1982, p. i 6. person is prejudiced or unprejudiced. I‘ll pick the people one at a time (not telling you which ones I’ve picked), and you have to guess whether each person is prejudiced. We'll do it for all 20 people in Figure 1—5a. Y0ur best strategy in this case would be to guess prejudiced each time, because 12 out of the 20 are categorized that way. Thus, you'll get 12 right and 8 wrong, for a net success of 4. Now let's suppose that when 1 pick a person from the figure, 1 tell you whether the person is educated or uneducated. Your best strategy now would be to guess prejudiced for each uneducated person and unprejudiced for each educated person. If you followed that strategy, you’d get 16 right and 4 wrong. Your improvement in guessing prejudice by knowing education is an illustration of what it means to say that the variables are related. a. The uneducated are more prejudiced than the educated. Educated : I'Lr'ejfidfid] iced {IpEEJLId Milliiiih‘l Lu O O o O O The Foundations of Social Science I 17 — Uifiiucated— O 9 b. There is no apparent relationship between education and prejudice. irony ii on FIGURE 1-5 Relationship between Two Variables (Two Possibilities). Variables such as education and prejudice and their attributes (educated/uneducated prejudiced/unprejudiced) are the foundation for the examination of musal relationships in social research. Second, by contrast, let's consider how the 20 people would be distributed ii education and preju~ dice were unrelated to each other (Figure 1-5b). Notice that half the people are educated, and half are uneducated. Also notice that 12 of the 20 (60 percent) are prejudiced. 1f 6 of the 10 people in each group were prejudiced, we would conclude that the two variables were unrelated to each other. Knowing a person's education would not be of any value to you in guessing whether that person was prejudiced. We'll be looking at the nature of relationships between variables in some depth in Part 4. In particular, we'll explore some of the ways relation- ships can be discovered and interpreted in research analysis. For now, you need a general understand- ing of relationships in order to appreciate the logic of social science theories. Theories describe the relationships we might logically expect between variables. Often, the expectation involves the idea of causation. That is, a person’s attributes on one variable are expected 18 - Chapter 1 : Human Inquiry and Science to cause, predispose, or encourage a particular attribute on another variable. In the example just illustrated, we might theorize that a person's being educated or uneducated causes a lesser or greater likelihood of that person seeming prejudiced. As l’ll discuss in more detail later in the book, education anti prejudice in this example would be regarded as an independent variable and a dependent variable, respectively. These two concepts are implicit in causal, or deterministic, models. In this example, we assume that the likeli- hood of being prejudiced is determined or caused by something. In other words, prejudice depends on something else, and so it is called the “dependent” variable. What the dependent variable depends on is an independent variable, in this case, educa- tion. For the purposes of this study, education is an “independent” variable because it is independent of prejudice (that is, people's level of education is not caused by whether or not they are prejudiced). Of course, variations in levels of education can, in turn, be found to depend on something else. People whose parents have a lot of education, for example, are more likely to get a lot of education than are people whose parents have little educa- tion. In this relationship, the subject's education is the dependent variable, and the parents’ educa- tion is the independent variable. We can say the independent variable is the cause, the dependent variable the effect. In our discussiOn of Figure 1-5, we looked at the distribution of the 20 people in terms of the two variables. In constructing a social science the- ory, we would derive an expectation regarding the relationship between the two variables based on what we know about each. We know, for example, independent variable A variable with values that are not problematic in an analysis but are taken as simply given. An independent variable is presumed to cause or determine a dependent variable. dependent variable A variable assumed to depend on or be caused by another (called the independent variable). If you find that income is partly a func- tion of amount of formal education. income is being treated as a dependent variable. that education exposes people to a wide range of cultural variation and to diverse points of view—in short, it broadens their perspectives. Prejudice. on the other hand, represents a narrower perspective. Logically, then, We might expect education and prejudice to be somewhat incompatible. We might therefore arrive at an expectation that increasing education would reduce the occurrence of preju- dice, an expectation that our observations would support. Because Figure 1-5 has illustrated two possi- bilities—that education reduces the likelihood of prejttdice or that it has no effect—you might be interested in knowing what is actually the case. There are, of course, many types of prejudice. For purposes of this illustration, let’s consider preju- dice against gays and lesbians. Over the years, the General Social Survey (GSS) has asked respondents whether homosexual relations between two adults is “always wrong, almost always wrong, sometimes wrong, or not wrong at all.” In 2004, 56 percent of those interviewed said that homosexuality was always wrong. However, this response is strongly conditioned by respondents’ education, as Table 1-2 indicates. (See the box for more about the G55.) Notice that the theory has to do with the two variables education and prejudice, not with people as such. People are the carriers of those two vari- ables, so the relationship between the variables can only be seen when we observe people. Ultimately, however, the theory uses a language of variables. It describes the associations that we might logically expect to exist between particular attributes of dif- ferent variables. TABLE 1-2 Education and Anti—Gay Prejudice Percentsayfng Homosexuality is Always level of Education Wrong Less than high school graduate 72% 1 High school graduate 62% Junior college 56% Bachelor’s degree 44% Graduate degree 30% Chicago conducts a periodic national Survey of American public opinion forthe purpose of making such data available for analysis by the social research community. Many data examples in this book came fro The National Opinion Research Center (NORG at the University of Some Dialectics of Social Research I 19 that sourceiou can learn more about the GSSHatthe official website maintained by the Universgy of Michigango to the link at http:/l www.norc.org/GSS+Wébsite/ The Purposes of Social Research Chapter 4 will examine the various purposes of social research in some detail, but a brief preview here will be useful. To begin, sometimes social re— search is a vehicle for mapping out a topic that may warrant further study later: looking into a new po- litical or religious group, learning something about use of a new street drug, and so forth. The methods vary greatly and the conclusions are usually sugges- tive rather than definitive. Even so, such exploratory social research, if carefully done, can dispel some misconceptions and help focus future research. Some social research is done for the purpose of desm'bing the state of social affairs: What is the unemployment rate? What is the racial composi- tion of a particular city? What percentage of the population plans to vote for a particular political candidate? Careful empirical description takes the place of speculation and impressions. Often, social research has an explanatory [impose—providing reasons for phenomena in the form of causal relationships. Why do some cities have higher unemployment rates than others? Why are some people more prejudiced than oth- ers? Why are women likely to earn less than men for doing the same job? Although answers to such questions abound in ordinary, everyday discourse, some of those answers are simply wrong. Explana- tory social research provides more trustworthy explanations. Later in this chapter, we'll cdmpare pure and applied research, but it’s worth noting here that the Purpose of sotne research is pretty much limited to understanding, while other research efforts are deliberately intended to bring about social change. creating a more workable andlorjust society. Atty kind of social science study, however, can change our view of society, in some cases challenging com‘ monly accepted “truths” about certain groups of people (see “Keeping Humanity in Focus"). The Ethics of Human Inquiry While most of this book is devoted to the logic and techniques of doing social research, you will soon discover another theme running throughout the discussion: the ethical dimension. You will learn that medical, social. and other studies of human be- ings have often used methods later condemned as unethical. In Chapter 3 and throughout the book, we are going to examine the various concerns that distinguish ethical from unethical research. I suspect that such ethical concerns will make more sense to you as you learn more about the actual techniques of doing research, but 1 want to alert you to this important issue at the outset of our journey. Some Dialectics of Social Research There is no one way to do social research. (If there were, this would be a much shorter book.) In fact, much of the power and potential of social research lies in the many valid approaches it comprises. Four broad and interrelated distinctions, however, underlie the variety of research ap- proaches. Although one can see these distinctions 20 I Chapter 1 : Human Inquiry and Science E “if a 553’! Keepiiig Humanity.in Focus um..mt.u.w..m As we have seen,a wide variety of research approaches can enhance our grasp of social dynamics. Much social research involves the analysis of masses of statistical data. As valuable as the examination of overall patterns can be,it can come at the risk of losing sight of the individual men and women those data represenths such,some social research focuses specifically on the detailed particulars of real lives at the ground level of society.Throughout this book,|'|l highlight some recent studies that reflect this latter approach to understanding social |ife,in an attempt to"keep humanity in focus”during oilr broaderdiscussion of social science practice. Statistics suggest that, in the United Statesypwediinothers and their children, particularly those who are poor, will fa ce a host of problems in the years to comelloth the child and the mother will likely struggle and sufferlhe children are less likely to do well in school and in later |ife,and the mothers will probably have to struggle in low—paying jobs or live on welfareihe trend toward births out of wedlock his increased dramatically inrecent decades, especially among the poor. As a reaction to these problemsthe Bush administration launched a Healthy Marriage Initiative in 2005 aimed at encouraging childbearing couples to marr'y.Voices for and againstthe program have been raised with vigor. in their bookPromises (Can Keep, Kathryn him and Maria Kefalas raise a question that might have been asked prior to the creation of a solution to the perceived probiem:"Why do poor women bear children outside ofwedlock?“ihe two social scientists spent five years speaking one-on-one with young women who had hadihildren out of wedlock. Some of the things they learned dramatically contradicted various wide spread images of unwed mothers. For instancewhereas many people have bemoaned the abandonment of marriage among the poorthe as competing choices, a good social researcher learns each of the orientations they represent. This is what I mean by the "dialectics" of social research: There is a fruitful tension between the complemen- tary concepts I'm about to describe. \ ldlographlc and Nomothetic Explanation All of us go through life explaining things. We do it every day. You explain why you did poorly or well on an exam, why your favorite team is winning or women interviewed tended to speak highly of the institution,indicating they hoped to be married one day. Further, many'were only willing to settle down with someone trustworthy and stablekbetter to remain unmarried than to enter a marriage that will end in disaster. At the same time, these young women felt strongly that their ultimate worth as women centered on their hearing children. Most felt it n was preferable to be an unmarried mother than to be a childless woman, the real tragedy in their eyes. This view of marriage may differ greatly from your owners we i have seen,assumptions about"what's real"are often contradicted by -‘ actual observationsthis is crucial to understanding"whafwili work”to address social issues. ‘5 E. E ED 533 a E fl: is 3 a :E s E Q a a l. a a a e E as a, a E EL of the University of California. Published by the University of Marnageby Kathryn Edin and Maria Kefalas. © 2005 Regents California Press. Photograph (9 Michael Smytlt l; losing, why you may be having trouble getting good dates or a decentjob. In our everyday explanations, we engage in two distinct forms of causal reasoning, though we do not ordinarily distinguish them. Sometimes we attempt to explain a single situ— ation in idiosyncratic detail. Thus, for example, you may have done poorly on an exam because (i) you forgot there was an exam that day, (2) it was in your worst subject, (3) a traffic jam made you late for class, (4) your roommate kept you up the night before the exam by playing loud music, (5) the police kept you until dawn demanding to know what you had done with your roommate's stereo~— and What you had done with your roommate, for that matter—and (6) a wild band of coyotes are your textbook. Given all these circumstances, it's no wonder you did poorly. This type of causal reasoning is called an idiographic explanation. Idz'o- in this context means unique, separate, peculiar, or distinct, as in Some Dialectics of Social Research I 21 life. The nomothetic patterns you discover might offer a good guide for planning your study habits, for example, while the idiographic explanation might be more convincing to your parole officer. (See “Idiographic and Nomothetic Reasoning in Everyday Life”) / By the same token, both idiographic and the word idt'osymrasy. When we have completed / nomothetic reasoning are powerful tools for an idiographic explanation, we feel that we fully understand the causes of what happened in this particular instance. At the same time, the scope of our explanation is limited to the single case at hand. Although parts of the idiographic explana- tion might apply to other situations, our intention is to explain one case fully. Now consider a different kind of explanation. (1) Every time you study with a group, you do better on the exam than if you had studied alone. (2) Your favorite team does better at home than on the road. (3) Fraternity and sorority members get more dates than members of the biology club do. Notice that this type of explanation is more general, covering a wider range of experience or observation. It speaks implicitly of the relationship between variables: for example, (a) whether or not you study in a group and (b) how well you do on the exam. This type of explanation—labeled nomothetic —seeks to explain a class of situations or events rather than a single one. Moreover, it seeks to explain "economically," using only one or just a few explanatory factors. Finally, it settles for a partial rather than a full explanation. In each of these examples, you might qualify your causal statements with such words or phrases as on the whole, usually, or all else being equal. Thus, you usually do better on exams when you‘ve Stud- ied in a group, but not always. Similarly, your team has won some games on the road and lost some at home. And the attractive head of the biology club may get lots of good dates, while the homely members of sororities and fraternities spend a lot of Saturday nights alone working crossword puzzles. The existence of such exceptions is the price we pay for a broader range of overall explanation. As I noted earlier, patterns are real and important even when they are not perfect. Both the idiographic and the nomothetic ap- r- proaches to understanding can be useful in daily social research. For example, A. Libin and J. Cohen-Mansfield (2000) contrast the way that the idiographic and nomothetic approaches are used in studying the elderly (gerontology). Some studies focus on the full experiences of individu- als as they live their lives, whereas other studies look for statistical patterns describing the elderly in general. The authors conclude by suggesting ways to combine idiographic and nomothetic approaches in gerontology. Social scientists, then, can access two distinct kinds of explanation. Just as physicists treat light sometimes as a particle and other times as a wave, so social scientists can search for broad relation- ships today and probe the narrowly particular tomorrow. Both are good science, both are reward- ing, and both can be fun. Inductive and Deductive Theory Like idiographic and nomothetic forms of explana- tion, inductive and deductive thinking both play a role in our daily lives. They, too, represent an important variation within social research. idiographic An approach to explanation in which we seek to exhaust the idiosyncratic causes of a particular condition 01' event. imaginetrying to list all the reasons why you chose to attend your particular college. Given all those reasons, it's difficult to imagine your making any other choice. nomothetic An approach to explanation in which we seek to identify a few causal factors that generally impact a class of conditions or events. imagine the two or three key fac— tors that determine which colleges students choose—proximity, reputation, and so forth. ' r— The difference between idiographic and nomothetic explanations can be found in everyday lite.(onsider the following: 1diographic:“lle’slilte that because his father and motherltept giving him mixed signals. The fact that his family moved seven times by the time he was twelve years old didn't help. Moreover,his older brother is exactly the same and probably served as a role model.” Nomot’netic: 'ileenage boys are like that" In the idiographlc modewe have a seemingly complete explana tion forthe behavior of the one boy in questionin the nomothetic mode, For example, there are two routes to the con- clusion that you do better on exams if yott study with others. On the one hand, you might find yourself puzzling, halfway through your college ca— reer, why you do so well on exams sometimes but poorly at other times. You might list all the exams you've taken, noting how well you did on each. Then you might try to recall any circumstances shared by all the good exams and by all the poor ones. Did you do better on multiple-choice exams or essay exams? Morning exams or afternoon exams? Exams in the natural sciences, the humani- ties, or the social sciences? Times when you studied alone or . . . SHAZAM! It occurs to you that you have almost always done best on exams when you studied with others. This mode of inquiry is known as induction. Induction, or inductive reasoning, moves from the particular to the general, from a set of specific observations to the discovery of a pattern that represents some degree of order among all the given events. Notice, incidentally. that your a induction The logical model in which general prin- ciples are developed from specific observations. Hav- ing noted that Jews and Catholics are more likely to vote Democrath than Protestants are, you might conclude that religious minorities in the United States are more affiliated with the Democratic party and then your task is to explain why. This would be an example of induction. we have a simpler, more generalexplanation,which wouldn't necessarily be true ofall teenage boys but portrays a general pattern. Be warned that neither explanation is necessarily true.When these models are used in social research, other elements of the inquiry—such as how subjects were chosen, how measurements were madeand so forthvstrengthen the validity of conclusions drawn 8 discovery doesn't necessarily tell you why the pat- tern exists—just that it does. There is a second and very different way that you might arrive at the same conclusion about studying for exams. Imagine approaching your first set of exams in college. You wonder about the best ways to study——how much you should review the readings, how much you should focus on your class notes. You learn that some students prepare by rewriting their notes in an orderly fashion. Then you consider whether you should study at a mea— sured pace or else pull an all-nighter just before the exam. Among these kinds of musings, you might ask whether you should get together with other students in the class or just study on your own. You could evaluate the pros and Cons of both options. Studying with others might not be as efficient, because a lot of time might be spent on things you already understand. On the other hand, you can understand something better when you've explained it to someone else. And other stu- dents might understand parts of the c0urse that you haven’t gotten yet. Several minds can reveal perspectives that might have escaped you. Also, your cornmitment to study with others makes it more likely that you’ll study rather than watch the special Brady Bunch retrospective. In this fashion, you might add up the pros and the cons and conclude, logically, that you’d benefit from studying with others. It seems reasonable to you, the way it seems reasonable that you'll do better if you study rather than not. Sometimes, we say things like this are true “in theory." To com- plete the process, we test whether they are true in practice. For a complete test, you might study alone for half your exams and study with others for the other exams. This procedure would test your logical reasoning. This second mode of inquiry, known as deduction or deductive reasoning, moves from the general to the specific. It moves from (1) a pattern that might be logically or theoretically ex- pected to (2) observations that test whether the ex- pected pattern actually occurs. Notice that deduc- tion begins with “why” and moves to “whether,” whereas induction moves in the opposite direction. As you'll see later in this book, the5e two very different approaches both serve as valid avenues for science. Each approach can stimulate the research process. prompting the researcher to take on specific questions and framing the manner in which they are addressed. Moreover, y0u’ll see how induction and deduction work together to provide ever more powerful and complete under- standings. Figure 1—6 shows how these two ap- proaches interact in the practice of social research. Notice, by the way, that the distinction between deductive and inductive reasoning is not necessar— ily linked to the distinction between nomothetic and idiographic modes of explanation. These four characterizations represent four possibilities, in everyday life as much as in social research. For example, idiographically and deductively, you might prepare for a particular date by taking into account everything you know about the per- son you’re dating, trying to anticipate logically how you can prepare—what type of clothing, behavior, hairstyle. oral hygiene, and so forth will likely produce a successful date. 0r, idiographically and inductively, you might try to figure out what it was exactly that caused your date to call 911. A nomothetic, deductive approach arises when you coach others on your “rules of dating," when you Wisely explain why their dates will be im— pressed to hear them expound on the dangers of Satanic messages concealed in rock and roll lyrics. When you later review your life and wonder why You didn’t date more musicians, you might engage in nomothetic induction. Some Dialectics of Social Research I 23 / Theories \ z E 9 F Empirical 5 8 Generalizations . — Hypomeses : D / O z r I.” — \ a I ' Observations FIGURE 1-6 The Wheel of Science. The theory and research cycle can be compared to a relay race; although all participants do not nec- essarily start or step at the same point, they share a common goal—to examine all levels of social life. Source: Adapted from Walter Wallace, The logic afScience in Sociology (New Yorszldine deGmyter,1971).[opyright© 1971 by Walter L.Wa||ace.Used by permission. We’ll return to inducrion and deduction in Chapter 2. Let’s turn now to a third broad distinc- tion that generates rich variations in social research. Qualitative and Quantitative Data The distinction between quantitative and qualita- tive data in social research is essentially the distinc- tion between numerical and nonnumerical data. When we say someone is intelligent, we‘ve made a qualitative assertion. A corresponding assertion about someone less fortunately endowed would be that he or she is "unintelligent." When psycholo- gists and others measure intelligence by IQ scores, they are attempting to quantify such qualitative assessments. For example, the psychologist might say that a person has an IQ of 120. deduaion The logical model in which specific ex- , pectations of hypotheses are developed on the basis of general principles. Starting from the general prin- ciple that all deans are meanies, you might anticipate that this one won‘t let you change courses. This an~ ticipation would'be the result of deduction. 24 I Chapter 1: Human Inquiry and Science Every observation is qualitative at the outset, whether it is our experience of someone’s intel- ligence, the location of a pointer on a measuring scale, or a check mark entered in a questionnaire. None of these things is inherently numerical or quantitative, but converting them to a numeri- cal form is sometimes useful. (Chapter 14 of this book will deal specifically with the quantification of data.) Quantification often makes our observations more explicit. It also can make it easier to aggre- gate, compare, and summarize data. Further, it opens up the possibility of statistical analyses, rang- ing from simple averages to complex formulas and mathematical models. Quantitative data, then, offer the advantages that numbers have over words as measures of some quality. On the other hand, they also carry the disadvantages that numbers have, including a potential loss in richness of meaning. For example, a social researcher might want to know whether college students aged 18—22 tend to date people older or younger than themselves. A quantitative answer to this question seems easily attained. The researcher asks a given number of college students how old each of their dates has been, calculates an average, and compares it with the age of the subject. Case closed. Or is it? Although “age” here represents the number of years people have been alive, some— times people use the term differently: perhaps for some “age” really means “maturity.” You may date people who are younger than you but who act more maturely than others of their age and thus represent the same “age” as you. Or someone might see “age” as how young or old your dates look or maybe the degree of variation in their life experiences and worldliness. These latter mean- ings would be lost in the quantitative calculation of average age. Qualitative data, in short, can be richer in meaning than quantified data. This is implicit in the cliche, “He is older than his years." The poetic meaning of this expression would be lost in attempts to specify how much older. 0n the other hand, qualitative data bring the disadvantages oi purely verbal descriptions. For example, the richness of meaning He mentioned is partly a function of ambiguity. If the expression "older than his years” meant something to you when you read it. that meaning came from your own experiences, from people you have known who might fit the description of being “older than their years" or perhaps the times you haVe heard others use that expression. Two things are certain: (I) YOu and I probably don’t mean exactly the same thing, and (2) you don't know exactly what I mean, and vice versa. 1 have a friend, Ray Zhang, who was respon- sible for communications at the I989 freedom demonstrations in Tiananmen Square, Beijing. Following the Army clampdown, Ray fled south, was arrested, and was then released with orders to return to Beijing. Instead, he escaped from China and made his way to Paris. Eventually he came to the United States, where he resumed the graduate studies he had been forced to abandon in. fleeing his homeland. I have seen him deal with the difficulties of getting enrolled in school without any transcripts from China, of studying in a foreign language, of meeting his financial needs—all on his own, thousands of miles from his family. Ray still speaks of one day returning to China to build a system of democracy. Ray strikes me as someone "older than his years.” You probably agree. The additional detail in my qualitative description, while it fleshes out the meaning of the phrase, still does not equip us to say how much older or even to compare two people in these terms without the risk of disagreeing as to which one is more “worldly.” It might be possible to quantify this concept, however. For example, we might establish a list of life experiences that would contribute to what we mean by worldliness, for example: Getting married Getting divorced Having a parent die Seeing a murder committed Being arrested Being exiled Being fired from a job Running away with the circus We might quantify people’s worldliness as the number of such experiences theyve had: the more such experiences, the more worldly we’d say they were. If we thought of some experiences as more Some Dialectics of Social Research II 25 tion between qualitative and quantitative research doesn't mean that you must identify your research activities with one to the exclusion of the other. A complete understanding of a topic often requires both techniques. The contribniigns of these two approaches are widely recognized today. For example, when powerful than others, we could give those experh/ Stuart J. H. Biddle and his colleagues (2001) at the ences more points. Once we had made our list and point system, scoring people and comparing their worldliness on a numerical scale would be straight- forward. We WOuld have no difficulty agreeing on who had more points than who. To quantify a noiin'umerical concept like world- liness, then, we need to be explicit about what the concept means. By foeusing specifically on what we'll include in our measurement of the concept, however, we also exclude any other meanings. In- evitably, then, we face a trade-off: Any explicated, quantitative measure will be less rich in meaning than the corresponding qualitative description. What a dilemma! Which approach should we choose? Which is better? which is more appropri- ate to sodal research? The good news is that we don’t need to choose. In fact, we shouldn’t. Both qualitative and quan- titative methods are useful and legitimate in social research. Some research situations and topics are amenable to qualitative examination, others to quantification. Although researchers may use both, these two approaches call for different skills and procedures. As a result, you may find that you feel more com- fortable with—and become more adept in—hone or the other. You will be a stronger researcher, however, to the extent that you can use both approaches effectively. Certainly, all researchers, whatever their personal inclinations, should recog- nize the legitimacy of both. You may have noticed that the qualitative approach seems more aligned with idiographic explanations, while nomothetic explanations are more easily achieved through quantification. Although this is true, these relationships are not absolute. Moreover, both approaches present considerable “gray area.” Recognizing the distinc- University of Wales set nut to review the status of research in the field of Sport and exercise psychol- ogy, they were careful to examine the uses of both quantitative and qualitative techniques, drawing attention to those they felt were underused. The apparent conflict btween these two funda- mental approaches has been neatly summarized by Paul Thompson (2004: 238—39): Only a few sociologists would openly deny the logic of combining the strengths of both quantitative and qualitative methods in social research. . . . In practice, however, despite such Wider methodological aspirations in principle, social researchers have regrettably become increasingly divided into two camps, many of whose members know little of each other even if they are not explicitly hostile. In reviewing the frequent disputes over the superiority of qualitative or quantitative methods, Anthony Onwuegbuzie and Nancy Leech (2005) suggest that the two approaches have more simi- larities than differences, and they urge that social research is strengthened by the use of both. My intention in this book is to focus on the comple- mentarity of these two approaches rather than on any apparent competition between them. Pure and Applied Research From the beginning, social scientists have showu two distinct motivations: understanding and ap- plication. On the one hand, they are fascinated by the nature of human social life and are driven to explain it, to make sense out of apparent cha05. Pure research in all scientific fields is sometimes justified in terms of gaining “knowledge for knowl- edge's sake.” 26 I Chapter 1: Human Inquiry and Science At the same time, perhaps inspired by their subject matter, social scientists are committed to having what they learn make a difference, to seeing their knowledge of society put into action. Sometimes they focus on making things better. When I study prejudice, for example, I'd like what I discover to result in a more tolerant society. This is no different from the AIDS researcher trying to defeat that disease. In Chapter 12, we’ll focus on a special kind of applied research called evaluation research. For some social scientists, professional activities are intimately interwoven with the intention of creating a more humane society. Today, there is no better role model than the Egyptian sociolo- gist Saad Eddin Ibrahim. Having addressed a great many social issues, Ibrahim has focused most recently on the problems of modern Arab societies in general and Egypt in particular. After years of researching and writing on the edge of political tolerance, Ibrahim crossed the line in 2000. Following the publication of one of my articles on Arab presidents grooming their sons to succeed them in the North Korean tradition of the late Kim 11 Sung, the old guard seemed to have gotten a green light to come after me. The day after the article appeared on Cairo newsstands—June 30, 2000—1 was arrested. (2003.- 71) Ibrahim provides a good example of how social scientists deal with something like imprisonment, which is, after all, an all-too-common part of mod- ern social life. In those initial 45 days, my human contacts in prison were limited to prison wardens and guards. I had little opportunity to do as much sociological research on the prison community as I would have liked. That would have to wait for the second and third rounds of my impris- onment which followed in 2001 and 2002. (2003.- 69) One of the charges brought against Ibrahim was Article 80D of the penal code, which prohib- its ‘spreading false rumors and tarnishing Egypt’s image abroad.” A more serious charge was that he had accepted financial contributions from abroad without government permission, a violation of Military Order No. 4 of 1992. As Ibrahim was to learn, his research institute's acceptance of research grants—usually a valued achievement—was regarded as a federal crime in his case. As Ibrahim observes, Being an activist sociologist in a Third World country is tremendously challenging. While some elements of the work are gratifying, it is more often permeated with agony. One hon- estly never knows when one is breaking a law, violating a military order or sirany stepping over an invisible red line. (2003: 70) Eventually, because of his own efforts and the international uproar produced by his arrest and imprisonment, Ibrahim was given a new trial and was finally released from prison on his 64th birthday: December 3, 2002. (You can learn more about Ibrahim’s experience at the link listed on this book’s website: http:l'r'www.cengage.comtr sociology/babbie.) Social researchers put their research into practice in many mundane ways as well. Experiments and surveys, for example, can be used in marketing products. In-depth interviewing techniques can be especially useful in social work encounters. Chapter 12 of this book deals with evaluation research, by which social scientists determine the effectiveness of social interventions. Sometimes, seemingly mundane research ef- forts can powerfully affect people's lives. Imagine working alongside Crystal Eastman, an applied sociologist and settlement worker active in the Pittsburgh area in the early twentieth century: We got permission to use these [coroner's records] and made a record of every industrial fatality reported to the coroner during the twelve months from July 1906 to July 1907, taking down on a separate card for each case, the name and address of the man killed, his age, occupation and conjugal condition, the name of his employer, the circumstances of the accident, the names of important Witnesses, and the verdict. The plan was to learn from the evidence in the coroner's record, how each accident happened, and to learn from visit- ing family what happened after the accident, [for example,] how great a financial loss was/ suffered by the family of the workman killed, how much of this was made up by compensa- tion received from the employer, and how the family was affected in its economic life by the accident. When we had done this with the fatalities. We followed the same course with the records of three months' industrial injuries which we secured from the hospitals. (Eastman I910: 789,- quoted in Lengermann and Niebmgge-Branrley 2002: [3) As a result of this and similar studies, US. workers now enjoy the protections of worker’s compensa- tion insurance. As with each of the other dialectics just dis- cussed, some social scientists are more inclined toward pure research, others toward application. Ultimately, both orientations are valid and vital elements in social research as a whole. In dealing with the basics of social research, whether pure or applied, one of the intentions of this book is to draw attention to the ways in which such research is used to make a difference. These, then, are some of the foundations of social research. I hope this discussion has helped to Show how social science is anything but routine or boring. At its best, it is a vibrant. exciting, and im- portant activity. All we need is an open mind and a sense of adventure. The Research Proposal I conclude this chapter by introducing a feature that will run throughout the book: the preparation of a research proposal. Most organized research begins with a description of what is planned in the project: What questions it will raise and how it will The Research Proposal - 27 answer them. Often, such proposals are created for the purpose of getting the resources needed to conduct the research envisioned. One way to learn the topics of this course is to write a research proposal based on what you have learned. Even_if you'will not actually conduct a major research project, you can lay out a plan for doing so. Your instructor_may use this as a course requirement, but even if that’s not the case, you can use the “Proposing Social Research” exercise at the end of each chapter to test your mastery of the chapter. There is a computer program, SAGrader, that is designed to assist you in writing exercises such as this one. It will accept a draft submission and critique it, pointing to elements that are missing, for example. You can learn more about SAGrader at the website listed at httpflmnmcengagecoml sociology! babble. There are many organizational structures for research proposals. and I’ve created a fairly typical one for you to use with this book. I've presented the proposal outline as follows, indicating which chapters in the book deal most directly with each topic. Introduction (Chapter 1) Review of the Literature (Chapters 2, 17; Appendix A) Specifying the ProblethuestionfTopic (Chapters 5, 6, 12) Research Design (Chapter 4) Data-Collection Method (Chapters 4, 8, 9, 10, l 1) Selection of Subjects (Chapter 7) Ethical Issues (Chapter 3) Data Analysis (Chapters 13, 14, 15, 16) Bibliography (Chapter 17; Appendix A) I'll have more to say about each of these topics as we move through the book, beginning with this chapter's “Proposing Social Research" exercise. Chapter 4 will have an extended section on the research proposal, and Chapter 17 will give you an opportunity to pull together all the parts of the proposal into a coherent whole. 28 I Chapter 1: Human Inquiry and Science Introduction 0 The subject of this book is how we find out about social reality. Looking for Reality 0 Inquiry is a natural human activity. Much of ordi- nary human inquiry seeks to explain events and predict future events. 0 When we understand through direct experience, we make observations and seek patterns of regu- larities in what we observe. 0 Much of what we know,'we know by agreement rather than by experience. in particular, twu important sources of agreed—on knowledge are tradition and authority. However, these useful sources of knowledge can also lead us astray. a Science seeks to protect against the mistakes we make in day-to-day inquiry. 0 Whereas we often observe inaccurately, research- ers seek to avoid such errors by making observa— tion a careful and deliberate activity. a We sometimes jump to general conclusions on the basis of only a few observations, so scientists seek to avoid overgeneralization. They do this by committing themselves to a sufficient number of observations and by replicating studies. 0 In everyday life we sometimes reason illogically. Researchers seek to avoid illogical reasoning by being as careful and deliberate in their reasoning as in their observations. Moreover, the public na- ture of science means that others are always there to challenge faulty reasoning. a Three views of “reality” are the premoderrt, mod- ern, and postmodern views. In the postmodern view, there is no “objective” reality independent of our subjective experiences. Different philo- Sophical Views suggest a range of possibilities for scientific research. The Foundations of Social Science 0 Social theory attempts to discuss and explain what is, not what should be. Theory should not be confused with philosophy or belief. 0 Social science looks for regularities in social life. o Social scientists are interested in explaining hu- man aggregates, not individuals. 0 Theories are written in the language of variables. 0 A variable is a logical set of attributes. An attribute is a characteristic. Gender, for example, is a variable made up of the attributes male and female. 0 In causal explanation. the presumed cause is the independent variable, and the affected variable is the dependent variable. The Purposes of Social Research 0 Three major purposes of social research are explo- ration, description, and explanation. 0 Studies may aim to serve more than one of these purposes. The Ethics of Human Inquiry o It is important to recognize from start that ethical issues, particularly with reference to protecting subjects, may rule ottt certain research procedures and/or require certain elements in the research design. Some Dialectics of Social Science 0 Whereas idiographic explanations present specific cases fully, nomothetic explanations present a generalized understanding of many cases. 0 Inductive theories reason from specific observa- tions to general patterns. Deductive theories start from general statements and predict specific observations. o Quantitative data are numerical; qualitative data are not. Both types of data are useful for different research purposes. - Both pure and applied research are valid and vital parts of the social science enterprise. The Research Proposal 0 Research projects often begin with the preparation of a research proposal, describing the purpose and methods of the proposed study. 0 In this book, each chapter will conclude with an exercise through which you can prepare part of a research proposal. thereby testing your mastery of the topics covered. sKEYIERMS The following terms are defined in context in the chapter and at the bottom of the page where the term is introduced, as well as in the comprehensive glossary at the back of the book. i i i r i agreement reality induction attributes methodology deduction nomothetic dependent variable replication epistemology theory idiographic variables independent variable E PRDPOSING SOCIAL RESEARCH: INTRODUCTiOHg This first chapter has given you an overview of some of the basic variations in social research, many of which can be useful in writing the introduction of your research proposal. For this assignment, you should first identify a topic or question you might like to explore in a research project. Perhaps you would like to explore some topic relating to race, gender, or social class. Perhaps there is some aspect of college life that you think needs study. Once you have a research topic in mind, this chapter will offer some ideas on how the research might be organized. This is only a overview of the project and should take two to four paragraphs. It will work best if you can select a topic which you’ll use in each of the chapters of the book as you address differ— ent aspects of the research process. Here are some examples of research questions to illustrate the kind of focus your project might take. 0 Do women earn less money than melt and, if so, why? 0 What distinguishes juvenile gangs of different ethnic groups? 0 which academic departments at your college offer the broadest degree of liberal arts training? 0 Is it true, as some suggest, that the United States was established as a “Christian nation"? 0 Are American military actions in the Middle East reducing the threat of terrorist attacks or increas- ing those threats? 0 What are the major functions of the American family and how have those been changing over time? o Are official attempts to control illegal drug use succeeding or failing? 0 Do undocumented immigrants overall represent a net economic cost or benefit to the United States? Notice that you probably hear questions like these discussed frequently, both in your own interactions Online Study Resources I 29 and in the mass media. Most of those discussions are probably mostly based in opinions. Your opportunity in this course is to see how you might pursue such questions as a researcher, dealing with logic and facts in place of opinions. . / fissure: oyggytggggun EXERCISES: 1. Review the common errors of human inquiry discussed in this chapter, Find a magazine or newspaper article, or perhaps a letter to the editor, that illustrates one of these errors. Discuss how a scientist would avoid it. 2. List five social variables and the attributes they comprise. 3. Go to one of the following websites, listed at www.cengage.com/sociologylbabbie, and find examples of both qualitative and quantitative data. a. UN High Commissioner for Refugees b. US. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention c. National Library of Australia 4. At InfoTrac College Edition, search for ‘post- modernism.” Write a short report discussing the various fields or disciplines to which it has been applied. Give examples. ESPSS-EXEREISES Q See the booklet that accompanies your text for exercises using SPSS (Statistical Package for the Social Sciences). There are exercises offered for each chapter, and you’ll also find a detailed primer on using SPSS. Online Study Resources If your book came with an access code card. visit www.cengagecomflogin to register. To purchase access, please visit wwwichapterscom. 1. Before you do your final review of the chapter. take the CertgageNOW pretest to help identify the areas on which you should concentrate. You'll find information on this online tool, as well as instructions on how to access all of its great re- sources, in the front of the book. I . ll, ill llil it if” 30 I Chapter 1: Human Inquiry and Science 2. As you review, Lake advantage of the CengageNOW personalized study plan, based on your quiz results. Use this study plan with its interactive exercises and other resources to master the material. 3. When you're finished with your review. take the posttest to confirm that you’re ready to move on to the next chapter. WEBSITE FOR THE PRACTICE OF SOCIAL RESEARCH 12TH EDITION Go to your book's vvebsite at wwwcengagecoml sociologylbabbie for tools to aid you in studying for your exams. You'll find Tutorial Quizzes with feedback, Internet Exercises, Flash Cards, Glosrart'es, and Essay Quizzer, as well as InfoTrac College Edition search terms, suggestions [or additional reading, Web Links, and primers for using data-analysis software such as SPSS. Paradigms, Theory, and Social Research (HATER qu—znvrew Sociai science inuir is an atlon, In a' Deductive and Inductive Reasoning: A Case Illustration introduction .Some Social Science Paradigms Macrotheory and MicrOthe'ory A Graph” Contrast Deductive Theory Construction Getting Started Constructing Your Theory An Example of Deductive Theory: Distributive Justice Early Positivism Social Darwinism Conflict Paradigm Symbolic Interactionism 9 ‘6 :Elhnomethodolog'y ». Structural Functirmalism Inductive Theory Construction Feminist Paradigms An Example of Inductive Theory: Why Do People Smoke Marijuana? Critical Race Theory Rational Objectivity Reconsidered The. Links between Theory and Elements of Social Theory Research Two Logical Systems Revisited The Traditional Model of Science Research Ethics and Theory CengageNDW for Sociology I Use this online tool to help you ntake the grade on your next exam. After reading this chapter, go to "Online Study Resources” at the end of the chapter for instructions on how‘ to benefit from CengageNOW. I ' -" \‘fi‘ '3? I493? ...
View Full Document

This note was uploaded on 02/14/2012 for the course COMM 300 taught by Professor Yanovitsky during the Spring '08 term at Rutgers.

Page1 / 16

Textbook Babbie ch. 1 - “f a :iigéliberatf,‘and...

This preview shows document pages 1 - 16. Sign up to view the full document.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
Ask a homework question - tutors are online