Ch. 1: The Sociological PerspectiveSociety • a body of individuals living as members of a community Examples: 1. Poverty hurts society as a whole. 2. We need to do more to help the poorer members of our society. 3. the values of Western society 4. She was introduced to society at a formal reception. 5. The clubs members are drawn from the ranks of high society.Sociology • The scientific study of social interaction and social organizationSociological Perspective • Encourages us to examine aspects of our social environment in ways that delve beneath the surface. As we look beyond the outer appearances of our social world, we encounter new levels of reality.Sociological Imagination • The essence of the sociological imagination is the ability to see our private experiences and personal difficulties as entwined with the structural arrangements of our society and the times in which we live.Social Location • How our gender, race, education, income, location, and ethnicity impact our ideas, behavior, and who we become.Scientific Method • Fundamental to the scientific investigation and acquisition of new knowledge based upon physical evidence. • Science manages new assertions about our world with theories — hypotheses and observations. Predictions from these theories are tested by experiment. • If a prediction turns out correct, the theory survives, but if a prediction fails, the theory fails. • Any theory which is strong enough to make verifiable predictions can then be tested scientifically in this way. These are the underlying methods of scientific practice.
• With them scientists determine which theories, hypotheses and observations are true. • The scientific method is essentially an extremely cautious means of building a supportable, evidenced understanding of our world.Microsociology • The detailed study of what people say, do, and think moment by moment as they go about their daily lives.Macrosociology • Focuses upon large-scale and long-term social processes of organizations, institutions, and broad social patterns. Theoretical Perspectives in SociologyContemporary sociologists acknowledge three general theoretical perspectives, or ways oflooking at how various social phenomena are related to one another.3 Major Theoretical Perspectives: 1. Symbolic Interactionism 2. Functionalism 3. ConflictFunctionalism • Can be referred to as structural-functional • Can be referred to as functionalist-perspective • Views society as a system • Identifies the structural characteristics and functions and dysfunctions of institutions • Distinguish between manifest functions and latent functions • Typically assume that most members of society share a consensus regarding their core beliefs and values • Ideal society lives in balance with healthy parts which equate to a healthy wholeConflict • Draws much of its inspiration from the work of Karl Marx
• Argues that the structure of society and the nature of social relationships are the result of past and ongoing conflictsSymbolic Interactionism • Contends that society is possible because humans have the ability to communicate with one another by means of symbols • We act toward people, objects, and events on the basis of the meanings we ascribe to them • Consequently, we experience the world as constructed reality Conducting ResearchSociology is a social (vs. hard) science: • Science assumes that every action results from a cause----that is, cause-and-effect relationships prevail in the universe. • These causes and effects can be observed and measured, and sociologists look for correlations among variables as a way of doing so.p. 20, Figure 1.6 • This is the ideal Research Model, it contains 8 steps. • However, keep in mind that in reality, some steps may be omitted or some may end up being combined.The 8 Steps in the Research Model: 1. Select a topic: • What do you want to know more about? 2. Define the problem: • Narrow the topic; focus on a specific area. 3. Review available literature: • Find what is already published and utilize that information. 4. Formulate a hypothesis: • A hypothesis predicts a relationship between or among variables, which are factors that change (vary) from one person or situation to another.
• A hypothesis needs operational definitions, or precise ways to measure the variables. 5. Choose a research model: • More on these below. • *Always be certain to choose the best method for your particular study. 6. Collect data: • Data gathered must always be valid----operational definitions must always measure what they are intended to measure. • Data must also always be reliable----anyone doing the same tests you are doing should get the same results as you. 7. Analyze results: • If able, this is the point where hypothesis should be tested. 8. Share results: • Write report and share finding with scientific community. • Note whether hypothesis was proven or disproven and how findings of this study fit with already published research. Research MethodsThe type of research method (or research design) chosen generally depends on the type ofinformation desired for the project. Each option has both plusses and minuses and it is thereforealways very important to determine which method is the best for each particular task.Surveys • Selecting a sample: the process of selecting units (e.g., people, organizations) from a population of interest so that by studying the sample we may fairly generalize our results back to the population from which they were chosen • A survey can be anything from a short paper-and-pencil feedback form to an intensive one-on-one in-depth interview • Surveys can be divided into two broad categories: the questionnaire and the interview • Ask neutral, unbiased questions • Decided ahead of time upon open-ended or closed-ended questions (see p. 24. Table 1.4) • Establish rapport with participants
Participant Observation (Fieldwork) • Researcher participates in research setting while observing what takes place that setting • Can be either covert or overt, although in practice, the researcher will often move between these two roles • Goal is to experience events in the manner in which the subjects under study also experience these events • While observing and experiencing as a participant, the sociologist must retain a level of objectivity in order to understand, analyze, and explain the social world being studied.Case Studies • An in-depth study of one person • Researcher focuses on single event, situation, or individual in attempt to understand dynamics of relationships, power, or thought processes that motivate people • Nearly every aspect of the subject’s life/history is analyzed to seek patterns/causes for behavior--the hope is that info gained from studying one case can be generalized to many others • Unfortunately, case studies tend to be highly subjective and it is difficult to generalize results to larger populationSecondary Analysis • Researchers use data that others have collected • They analyze second-hand data collected previously by other researchersDocuments • Written sources are used for research • Books, newspapers, bank records, immigration records, police reports, court records, etc.Experiments • Research method in which the investigator manipulates a variable(s) under very controlled conditions and examines whether changes occur in a second variable(s). • The manipulated variable is called the INDEPENDENT VARIABLE. This is the presumed "cause." • The variable that is expected to change as a result of the manipulation of the independent variable is called the DEPENDENT VARIABLE. This is the presumed "effect." • See p. 28, Figure 1.7Unobtrusive Measures • Observing behavior of people who are unaware they are being watched • Can be touchy, however, because secretly recording can often be illegal • One-way mirrors, undisclosed note-taking, phone-tapping
Ethics and Values in Sociological ResearchProtecting the Subjects • Protect sourcesMisleading the Subjects • Be honest regarding study and everyone’s roleValues and Controversy • Researchers need to be aware of values and bias in research and take corrective measures • Informed consent • Voluntary participation • Risk of harm • Confidentiality • Anonymity