Research Methods

Research Methods - soci217A LookingforReality...

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soci 217A 20:01 Looking for Reality What’s really real Postmodern view Many diff views of seeing All true No objective reality Power Foundations of Social Science Introduction Science understanding of the world Logical-empirical must make sense correspond to what is observed theory – logic data collection – observation data analysis – patterns theory, not philosophy or belief social theory – a systematic explanation for observations relating to  particular aspect of the social world social theory concerned with what is and why
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not with what ought to be Science and values Science cant settle debates about values Can assess the social world in terms of criteria o Agreed upon o Measurable Suicide rates, per capita income, homelessness… Social regularities/patterns More obvious in the natural world A feature of the social world o Patterns of action o Norms [in/formal] Drive on the right/pay taxes/most nurses are women Exceptions to social patterns Means patterns in the social world are probabilistic Real and to be explained Social science mainly concerned with patterns in the social world in which we live Collective/social phenomena [aggregates] Birth rate example Many individual motivations Birth rate consistent
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Other social phenomena Prejudice Conservatism Political activism Deviance A Variable Language Attribute [characteristic of ppl] o Sociable, woman, plumber, racist, elderly, Canadian… Variable [logical, grouping of attributes’ Sociability, gender, occupation, racism, age, nationality… This class can be described in terms of the variable AGE How many are over 21 years of age? This class can be described in terms of the variable HEIGHT How many are under 2 metres in height? This class can be described in terms of the variable GENDER How many are women How are these relationships examined in social science? Causal explanations Does one variable cause/influence another  [independent]? Is one variable caused/influenced by another  [dependent]? Example – education and prejudice
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Theories attempt to explain relationships between variables Relationship between diet [independent variable] and death [dependent  variable] Relationship between income poverty [IV] and diet [DV] Relationship between gender [IV] and income poverty [DV] i.e. in studies that look at why women are more altruistic than men, the  degree of altruism is the dependent  variable. o
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Research Methods - soci217A LookingforReality...

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