Soc. 101 rw ch. 3

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Soc. 101 rw ch. 3

  1. 1. Sociological Research Methods
  2. 2. Outline Research Methods Overview Scientific Method Methods (Ethnography, Interviews, surveys, experiments) Issues in sociological research Values, Objectivity, Reactivity
  3. 3. Research Methods Methods are used to show if a theory’s claim is true Quantitative-data put into numbers for statistical comparison Qualitative-can’t be converted to numbers – data relates to meaning  Ex. Interviews or observation Scientific method-provides researchers with steps to follow: begin with a general question Literature Review-thorough search through previously published studies relevant to topic
  4. 4. Scientific Method Does watching violence on TV cause kids to behave violently? 1.Form a hypothesis- theoretical statement explaining relationship b/w two or more variables  Variable-one of two or more phenomena that a researcher believes are related 2.Clearly define the variables so can measure accurately 3. Predict possible outcomes 4. Researcher collects data (experiment meant to isolate variables) 5. Analyze the data
  5. 5. Does watchingviolence on televisioncause children tobehave violently?Albert Bandura (1965)Children more likelyto hit the clown dollthemselves if theysaw the TV actorsbeing rewarded fortheir violentbehaviorIf the actors werepunished, childrenwere less likely to hitclown doll
  6. 6. Which Method to Use? Each sociological method has its own benefits and limitations Ethnography-method based on studying people in their own environment in order to understand the meanings they attribute to their activities Participant observation-researcher observes and becomes a member in a social setting  Access-process by which ethnographer gains entry to a field setting  Has to be negotiated carefully  Researchers can either be overt or covert in their role  Fieldnotes-detailed notes describing activities and interactions with those being studied  Reflexivity-researcher’s identity can affect what’s going on
  7. 7. Ethnography Advantages  Excel at telling stories that might otherwise might not get told  Challenge preconceptions and stereotypes Disadvantages  Lack of replicability-research that can be repeated by other researchers  Degree of representativeness  Bias-opinion held by researcher that might affect the research
  8. 8. Interviews Interviews-face-to-face information-seeking conversation with subjects, or respondents  can be combined with other methods Researcher must ID target population-entire group researcher would like to be able to generalize about  Sample-smaller group who are representative of larger group  Researcher must get informed consent-subjects must know what they’re getting into and explicitly agree to participate
  9. 9. Interviews Researchers must be careful to avoid leading questions-questions that predispose a respondent to answer in a certain way Double-barreled questions-questions that involve too many difficult issues at one time Advantages  Respondents speak in own words  Discover issues that may have been overlooked Disadvantages  Not always truthful  Not representative
  10. 10. Surveys Survey-method based on questionnaires administered to a sample of respondents selected from target pop.  Tends to be macro and quantitative  Answers are coded (turned into numerical data)  Pitfalls: leading questions, bias, double-barreled questions, & negative questions-ask respondents what they don’t think instead of what they do  Questions should be clear, and order of questions matters Representative sample-findings can be generalized to entire population
  11. 11. Surveys Probability sampling-sample group mathematically represents the larger population  Simple random sample-each member of pop. has an equal chance of being selected  Weighting-proportion of certain variables (race, gender, etc…) more closely reflects larger population
  12. 12. Surveys Advantages  Quick, vast amt. of data, can study large # of people  Strong reliability-degree to which same questions will produce similar answers Disadvantages  Don’t allow for full range of expression  Weak on validity-degree to which a researcher is measuring what he thinks he is measuring  If goal of research is to support a point of view (POV)
  13. 13. Experimental Methods Sociologists have two goals when using experimental methods:  Develop tools with which to observe, record & measure data  Control for all other variables Experiments-formal tests of specific variables and effects, performed in a controlled setting where all aspects of situation can be controlled  Experimental group-the part of a test group that receives the experimental treatment  Control group-part of a test group that is allowed to continue without intervention
  14. 14. Experimental Methods Experiments-(Does marriages counseling help couples stay together?)  Experimental group-the part of a test group that receives the experimental treatment  Control group-part of a test group that is allowed to continue without intervention  Independent variable-factor that is predicted to cause change  Dependent variable-factor that is changed by the independent variable
  15. 15. What does it mean tobe a boy or girl?People treated babydifferently depending onwhat sex they thought it was.When subjects thought thebaby was a boy, they handledit less gently and talked in alouder voice.When subjects thought it wasa girl, they held the babycloser to themselves andspoke more softly.
  16. 16. Experiments Advantages  Manipulate social world  Can be repeated (have replicability)  Isolate variables in a controlled setting away from “real world” distractions Disadvantages  Seek to eliminate elements that will have an unforeseen effect
  17. 17. Existing Resources Existing sources-any data that has already been collected and is available for future research Advantages  Able to work with info you couldn’t get yourself  Able to learn about many social worlds/time periods Disadvantages  Can be misused if original questions answered in source aren’t same
  18. 18. Issues in Sociological Research Value-free sociology: ideal whereby researchers identify facts without allowing their own beliefs to interfere  Comes from Max Weber’s “Science As a Vocation”  Separate facts from values A debate continues between Basic research-search for knowledge without agenda  and Applied research-research designed to allow researcher to use what is learned to create some sort of change Bias can be shown in terms of choosing a project, sample, wording, etc…
  19. 19. Objectivity and Reactivity Objectivity-impartiality/facts speak for themselves  What is a fact?  Racist, sexist “facts” dominated  What presently passes for fact may someday be challenged Reactivity-ways people and events react to being studied  Hawthorne effect-specific example of reactivity; desired effect is result of research  Our presence as researchers sometimes has effect on subjects

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