What are the practical uses of 
sociology? How can it help you 
understand your own life and the 
changing world in which ...
It contributes to an understanding of 
today’s complex world by offering fresh 
ideas; challenging popular perceptions 
(t...
As such, it is the systematic study of the 
groups and societies in which people 
live, how social structures and cultures...
How might sociology look at such 
common American problems as 
poverty, high unemployment, the 
distribution of resources,...
For the sociologist, observations 
and insights differ from common 
sense explanations of social 
behavior. 
5
Questioning public 
assumptions. Peter 
Berger’s “debunking 
motif,” or the notion of 
exposing urban legends. 
(Consider ...
Common explanations of such issues 
tend to focus on individual behavior. 
Sociologists look at social forces—at 
trends a...
It may reveal the flaws in our common 
sense views of the world. Our perceptions 
are often distorted by our previous 
exp...
How did Emile Durkheim use the 
sociological perspective to add 
to our understanding of suicide? 
9
Durkheim’s (1857-1917) study 
of suicide for the first time 
utilized real data accumulated 
from archives. It was a 
nomo...
Durkheim set the ball rolling for the 
real science of the social sciences. 
We may think of it as the 
application of the...
The Research Cycle 
(as based upon Durkheim’s study of Suicide) 
12
The Research Cycle 
(a more generalized view) 
13
The Scientific Method:
What is a testable hypothesis? 
15 
It is a a proposition that 
can then be tested to 
determine its validity.
What you test is variables 
16 
A variable is a concept that can take on different 
values. 
Dependent variables are those...
17
Example 
18 
SES or socioeconomic status can be a 
dependent variable. 
Or, can it be an independent variable as 
well?
Conducting Research 
 Basic Concepts in Research 
 Variable — concept that can take on different values 
Independent var...
Conducting Research 
 Basic Concepts in Research 
 Correlation — exists if change in one 
variable is associated with ch...
But what of storks 
21 
You all know that storks bring babies.
22 
In northern Germany, birth rates in 
rural areas positively correlated with 
the presence of storks. 
Does this mean c...
23 
This would be a spurious correlation. 
This means that there is a third 
variable.
Sociology as science: 
24
Sociology is an empirical discipline 
 It relies on evidence 
 Is systematic observation and experimentation 
 Is verif...
Methods of minimizing errors and 
bias 
 Control groups 
 Randomization in sample selection 
26
It is a public venture 
 Results are public for other’s verification 
(peer review) 
 Open discussion and examination of...
Generalizations 
 Conclusions should be 
generalizable; they should be able 
to be applied to other elements of 
the soci...
To produce Theory 
 Not just description but explanations 
 The meaning of social actions is sought 
 We look for the c...
Conducting Research 
 Theory 
 General framework or perspective that provides 
explanation for specific social phenomeno...
Conducting Research 
 The Logic and Method of Science 
1. Select researchable problem 
2. Review literature 
3. Formulate...
Types of Research: 
 Observation (watching individual's or groups' behavior) 
 Participant observation (joining in the a...
33
Conducting Research 
 How Do Sociologists Collect Data? 
 Experiment: researchers work with two groups that are 
identic...
Conducting Research 
 How Do Sociologists Collect Data? 
Secondary Data: 
Government documents 
Previous large surveys...
Conducting Research 
 How Do Sociologists Collect Data? 
Surveys: using sampling procedures to 
collect data about a gro...
Conducting Research 
 How Do Sociologists Collect Data? 
 Observation 
Unobtrusive observation: sociologist observes th...
Conducting Research 
 Research Ethics 
 Sociologists should not misuse positions 
Should not mislead respondents 
Expo...
Class Exercise 
Consider the previous slide and choose a methodology for studying 
either one of the following or another ...
Some functions of sociology: 
40
41 
General enlightenment – 
The ways in which social 
arrangements shape our lives; 
sociology affects public 
understand...
Identifying social problems – calling 
attention to hidden, ignored, or 
misunderstood social problems; Example: 
family v...
Designing solutions – sociologists can 
function as advisors, and can 
recommend solutions to social 
problems as a way of...
The sociological imagination 
– to help individuals better 
understand their own 
experiences. 
44
ADDENDUM 
Harold Garfinkle 1917 - 2011
Ethnomethodology 
Ethnomethodology is a fairly 
recent sociological perspective, 
founded by the American 
sociologist Har...
Ethnomethodology simply means 
the study of the ways in which 
people make sense of their social 
world.
Ethnomethodologists start out with the 
assumption that social order is illusory. 
They believe that social life merely 
a...
Breaching Experiments 
The breaching experiment is a simple yet 
ingenious social psychology technique that 
explores peo...
Breaching Experiments 
In order to demonstrate the concept of the breaching 
experiment, Garfinkel famously instructed hi...
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Methodology 2 09-14

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Basic intro to methodology for my Soc classes.
Subject to updates as I'm not too happy with it.
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  • Methodology 2 09-14

    1. 1. What are the practical uses of sociology? How can it help you understand your own life and the changing world in which you live? 1
    2. 2. It contributes to an understanding of today’s complex world by offering fresh ideas; challenging popular perceptions (the familiar); identifying social problems and designing solutions to persistent problems. 2
    3. 3. As such, it is the systematic study of the groups and societies in which people live, how social structures and cultures are created and maintained or changed, and how they affect our behavior. [At best it is predictive!] 3
    4. 4. How might sociology look at such common American problems as poverty, high unemployment, the distribution of resources, gender, race…? 4
    5. 5. For the sociologist, observations and insights differ from common sense explanations of social behavior. 5
    6. 6. Questioning public assumptions. Peter Berger’s “debunking motif,” or the notion of exposing urban legends. (Consider racial and gender stereotyping.) 6
    7. 7. Common explanations of such issues tend to focus on individual behavior. Sociologists look at social forces—at trends and patterns, social structure and culture—to illuminate the connection between personal troubles and social problems. 7
    8. 8. It may reveal the flaws in our common sense views of the world. Our perceptions are often distorted by our previous experiences, attitudes (prejudice), values, and beliefs, and our images of reality are strongly influenced by the people around us. 8
    9. 9. How did Emile Durkheim use the sociological perspective to add to our understanding of suicide? 9
    10. 10. Durkheim’s (1857-1917) study of suicide for the first time utilized real data accumulated from archives. It was a nomothetic approach and an application of the scientific method to a social problem. He identified “social facts” so that he could create a typology of suicide such as egoistic, altruistic, anomic, or fatalistic. 10
    11. 11. Durkheim set the ball rolling for the real science of the social sciences. We may think of it as the application of the “research cycle” to social research. 11
    12. 12. The Research Cycle (as based upon Durkheim’s study of Suicide) 12
    13. 13. The Research Cycle (a more generalized view) 13
    14. 14. The Scientific Method:
    15. 15. What is a testable hypothesis? 15 It is a a proposition that can then be tested to determine its validity.
    16. 16. What you test is variables 16 A variable is a concept that can take on different values. Dependent variables are those that are affected by some form of testing. Such as losing hair. Independent variables is one that causes some effect, such as age.
    17. 17. 17
    18. 18. Example 18 SES or socioeconomic status can be a dependent variable. Or, can it be an independent variable as well?
    19. 19. Conducting Research  Basic Concepts in Research  Variable — concept that can take on different values Independent variable — variable that causes effect Dependent variable — the variable affected Hypothesis — propositions that can be tested to determine its validity
    20. 20. Conducting Research  Basic Concepts in Research  Correlation — exists if change in one variable is associated with change in other variable Spurious correlation — apparent relationship between two variables produced by third variable that influence the original variables
    21. 21. But what of storks 21 You all know that storks bring babies.
    22. 22. 22 In northern Germany, birth rates in rural areas positively correlated with the presence of storks. Does this mean causality? What could be the reason for this?
    23. 23. 23 This would be a spurious correlation. This means that there is a third variable.
    24. 24. Sociology as science: 24
    25. 25. Sociology is an empirical discipline  It relies on evidence  Is systematic observation and experimentation  Is verifiable through independent observation  There is a demand for proof (hunches are for direction only) 25
    26. 26. Methods of minimizing errors and bias  Control groups  Randomization in sample selection 26
    27. 27. It is a public venture  Results are public for other’s verification (peer review)  Open discussion and examination of research  Conclusions are never final or absolute – they are open to question 27
    28. 28. Generalizations  Conclusions should be generalizable; they should be able to be applied to other elements of the social structure 28
    29. 29. To produce Theory  Not just description but explanations  The meaning of social actions is sought  We look for the causes of social facts 29
    30. 30. Conducting Research  Theory  General framework or perspective that provides explanation for specific social phenomenon  Research provides findings that test our theories and provide the information needed to formulate public policy
    31. 31. Conducting Research  The Logic and Method of Science 1. Select researchable problem 2. Review literature 3. Formulate hypothesis 4. Choose research design 5. Collect data 6. Analyze data 7. State conclusions
    32. 32. Types of Research:  Observation (watching individual's or groups' behavior)  Participant observation (joining in the activity of the group)Ethnography (cultural - usually anthropology)  Case study (one or more individuals or groups)  Survey large (1000 plus, GSS and Census)  Survey small: (Structured interview and Semi-structured interview)  Archival (historical documents)Content analysis (television, film, internet, print)  Longitudinal study (usually survey/interview over time)  Focus group (responses from members of a group_ 32
    33. 33. 33
    34. 34. Conducting Research  How Do Sociologists Collect Data?  Experiment: researchers work with two groups that are identical in all relevant respects Experimental group: group into which researcher introduces change Control group: group into which the researcher introduces no change
    35. 35. Conducting Research  How Do Sociologists Collect Data? Secondary Data: Government documents Previous large surveys (GSS, Census) Historical records (older Census, receipts, shipping documents, property deeds (yes, slavery)
    36. 36. Conducting Research  How Do Sociologists Collect Data? Surveys: using sampling procedures to collect data about a group Random sample: every individual in a population has the same chance of being chosen for a survey Stratified random sample: researchers divide a population into relevant categories and draw a random sample for each category
    37. 37. Conducting Research  How Do Sociologists Collect Data?  Observation Unobtrusive observation: sociologist observes the activities of people without intruding or participating in activities Participant observation: sociologist is involved directly in activities of subjects—such as working at a job to study job satisfaction.  Multiple Methods Archival research: use of existing records
    38. 38. Conducting Research  Research Ethics  Sociologists should not misuse positions Should not mislead respondents Expose respondents to substantial risk Must not coerce or deceive students into serving as research subjects
    39. 39. Class Exercise Consider the previous slide and choose a methodology for studying either one of the following or another social issue/problem of Some choices (you may choose another): 39 Homelessness Drug Addiction Racial Discrimination Conversation analysis of gender Unemployment Narrow your research question down to something that you can actually study. Consider examples from EBSCOhost.
    40. 40. Some functions of sociology: 40
    41. 41. 41 General enlightenment – The ways in which social arrangements shape our lives; sociology affects public understanding.
    42. 42. Identifying social problems – calling attention to hidden, ignored, or misunderstood social problems; Example: family violence was considered extremely rare 25 years ago. (The first national survey on family violence was done in 1976 and showed family violence as a pervasive phenomena.) Sociologists can also be considered “professional whistle-blowers.” 42
    43. 43. Designing solutions – sociologists can function as advisors, and can recommend solutions to social problems as a way of influencing public policy. An example is sociologist William J. Wilson’s advisory position in the Clinton administration. 43
    44. 44. The sociological imagination – to help individuals better understand their own experiences. 44
    45. 45. ADDENDUM Harold Garfinkle 1917 - 2011
    46. 46. Ethnomethodology Ethnomethodology is a fairly recent sociological perspective, founded by the American sociologist Harold Garfinkel in the early 1960s.
    47. 47. Ethnomethodology simply means the study of the ways in which people make sense of their social world.
    48. 48. Ethnomethodologists start out with the assumption that social order is illusory. They believe that social life merely appears to be orderly; in reality it is potentially chaotic.
    49. 49. Breaching Experiments The breaching experiment is a simple yet ingenious social psychology technique that explores people’s adherence to the unwritten social norms of society. The experiment was developed by sociologist Harold Garfinkel and has become a favorite tool in teaching sociology and psychology students about the strength of social norms and social conformity. ~Wired Cosmos http://wiredcosmos.com/2012/06/07/sociology-in-action- the-breaching-experiment/ 49
    50. 50. Breaching Experiments In order to demonstrate the concept of the breaching experiment, Garfinkel famously instructed his sociology students to act as lodgers when they went home to their parents. Students were excessively polite to their parents, asked permission to use the restroom, and pretended to be ignorant of the comings and goings of the household. Parents were reported to be distraught and generally bewildered, some were even angry at their children’s behavior.~Wired Cosmos http://wiredcosmos.com/2012/06/07/sociology-in-action- the-breaching-experiment/ 50
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