Chasing the Causal Dragon: Intermediate Quantitative Data Analysis for Sociologists. SOCY 10 focuses on the statistical methods that sociologists use with quantitative data. This course is designed to introduce students to the logic of statistical analysis and help students gain an awareness of the many uses of statistics in everyday life, and become informed consumers of statistics. Over the course of the term, students will work together to develop a research project and will learn to analyze, collect, and interpret social statistics.
SOCY 11 is designed to provide students with the practical tools of doing social science research and the theoretical background for critiquing and designing research on social issues. We focus specifically on qualitative methods, engaging in a wide range of methods throughout the term—including interviewing, content analysis, and ethnographic observations—and enabling students to design a research project addressing specific and testable questions.
Both courses focus on developing the skills necessary to interpret, critique, and conduct social science research. Houle syllabus , Lin Syllabus. This course provides an introduction to the methods and statistical techniques of quantitative analysis.
The first part of the course deals with the methods of quantitative analysis research design, conceptualization, operationalization, and measurement. It is conducted within a fixed geographical limit. Social surveys are of various types. These surveys are very useful as they do not only provide detailed accounts of the social and economic facts but also bring home various social evils prevalent among the people of the area concerned and thereby draw the attention of the government to eradicate these evils by passing appropriate legislation.
America and England have been making use of social surveys, both general and specialized, since long on a very large scale to solve some of their social problems. India and other underdeveloped countries are also now benefiting from social surveys both in the urban and rural areas which they are conducting either on their own or with the co-operation and help of other advanced countries. Gathering of enough information about a person to understand how he or she functions as a unit of society. The case study method is employed in studying an individual case or that of a group, a community or an institution.
The contention underlying it is that any case being studied is a. Burgess assigns it the name of social Microscope. This method is usually employed for the study of professional criminal and other social deviants and involves an investigation and an analysis of all the factors entering into the case and its examination from as many points of view as possible.
Any adequate sociological study shows fusion of case method and historical method. Expressed somewhat differently it is an approach which views any social unit as a whole. Some of the techniques used in the method are interviews, questionnaires, life histories, documents of all kinds having a bearing on the subject and all such material which may enable the sociologist to have a deep insight into the problem.
Thoroughness is the keystone of this method. Case work is based on the principles of acceptance, self determination and confidentiality. The principle of acceptance refers to the attitude of the worker, his respect for the client as an individual which gives him a sense of security and encourages him to speak about his problem frankly; the principle of self determination allows the client to decide for himself rather than deciding for him; and the principle of confidentiality implies that the relationship between the case worker and the client is one of the trust and whatever is revealed to the worker is to be kept confidential and is not to be shared with anyone except in the interest of the client with his permission.
Case work is used in a variety of settings such as child care and child guidance institutions, schools, colleges, medical and psychiatric settings, family welfare, marriage counseling centres, institutions for the old and infirm as well as handicapped and also with people who suffer from addiction, character disorders, emotional disturbances and the like. There are certain points which have been made in connection with the case-studies, Lewin pointed out that it would be misleading to use statistical methods until the cases which are combined into groups for numerical treatment are shown to be comparable.
Secondly, in order to understand or to predict the behaviour of an individual or group, diagnosis must be made so that the values of the constants to be inserted in the empirical laws may be found.
Sociology has not yet reached the stage where laws can be predicted accurately. Thirdly, a single case may be sufficient to refute law generalised from other cases. In such a case it is necessary to locate those variables which speak for different behaviour. Questionnaire and interviews are very common and popular research tools of sociologists these days. The questionnaire is a list of important and pertinent questions concerning a problem.
It is sent to persons and associations concerned, requesting them to answer the questions to the best of their knowledge and ability.
The object is to obtain knowledge about facts known to the informant but not to the investigator. From answers received to certain questions predictions are made about social behaviour. It is necessary that proper care should be taken in formulating questions; they should not be ambiguous, too many or too personal, nor too difficult to be answered by a man of average intelligence and common understanding.
The questionnaire technique is being used all over the world to collect necessary data about a particular situation or problem.
The Kothari Commission, had circulated a questionnaire regarding reforms in the educational system of the country and other matters connected with it.
It was on the basis of the fact? Thus collected that the Commission had made its recommendations to the Government. The Interview Method consists in having direct personal contact with persons or groups concerned who are, in any way, connected with the problem under study.
Discussion of the problem with the person interviewed at personal level goes a long way out in clearly understanding his problems and remedying them accordingly. This method has been employed in bringing out some outstanding works of which most prominent are A Medical Study of Sex Adjustment by Dr. Many kinds of information can be obtained either by interview or by questionnaire.
The questionnaire has the great advantage of anonymity, making for more truthful answers. It also serves to cut out uncontrolled personal influences, and there is less likelihood of bias in the coding of replies. The interview is in general more flexible. Since the same question can have different meanings to different people, the interviewer can remove such misunderstanding.
He can change the order of questions and prevent the subject looking over the whole list before answering. This method is used to seek and gauge the beliefs, sentiments and attitudes of the public on any given proposition.
This method for the study of social phenomena has been advocated by some sociologists of whom Max Weber is perhaps the most notable. The advocates of this method maintain that the observed facts are of little significance unless they are evaluated through discovery of their inner meaning.
The American sociologist C. It is only then that the actions of the individuals can be best understood. Explaining this technique further C. It is evident from the nature of this approach that it can be used only by such persons who have a gifted mind and a high level of education and intelligence.
Moreover, this method should not be used exclusively for understanding social problems, it should be utilised along with the scientific or empirical method, only then it would yield best-results.
The approach of functionalism is being given great importance in the study of social phenomena by some sociologists. By this method we try to interpret any part of society in terms of its functions and not in terms of its utility and origin. Functionalism, in other words, refers to the study of social phenomena from the point of view of the functions that particular institutions such as family, class, political institutions, religion, etc.
It is a functional analysis of the different parts of society. Merton, it depends upon a triple alliance between theory, method and data, Function is the contribution which a partial activity makes to the total activity of which it is a part.
The functional method assumes that the total social system of the society is made up of parts which are inter-related and inter-dependent, each performing a function necessary to the life of the group, and these parts can best be understood in terms of the functions that they perform or in terms of the needs they meet.
And since they are inter-dependent we can understand them only by investigating their relationship to other parts as well as to the whole social system. According to Merton, the following points should be carefully studied in the functional analysis of social phenomena: The functional approach was employed by sociologists like Comte, Spencer and others and anthropologists like Malinowski and Radcliffe Brown. The American sociologists like Parsons and Merton have elaborated this method and given it the name of structural functional method, because of the emphasis that it lays on social structures or institutions in studying the social phenomena.
Structures refer to those arrangements within the system which perform the functions while functions deal with the consequences-involving objectives as well as processes-of patterns of action.
But this approach is not without defects. It is not proper to lay all the stress on the functional aspect of the society. If that premise is true and I fall in a swimming pool, you could deduce that I got wet. Many people who live in societies that have not experienced industrialization decide what to do in the future by repeating what was done in the past. Even in modern societies, many people get satisfaction out of celebrating holidays the same way year after year.
Fast-paced change in modern societies, however, makes traditional knowledge less and less helpful in making good choices. Some people claim to acquire knowledge believed to be valid by consulting religious texts and believing what is written in them, such as the Torah, the Bible, the Koran, the Bhagavad Gita, or the Book of Mormon. Others claim to receive revelations from a higher power in the form of voices or a general intuitive sense of what one should do.
The scientific method combines the use of logic with controlled experience, creating a novel way of discovery that marries sensory input with careful thinking. By adopting a model of cause and effect, scientists produce knowledge that can explain certain phenomena and even predict various outcomes before they occur.
These methods of claiming to know certain things are referred to as epistemologies. An epistemology is simply a way of knowing. In Sociology, information gathered through science is privileged over all others.
That is, information gleaned using other epistemologies will be rejected if it is not supported by evidence gathered using the scientific method. A scientific method or process is considered fundamental to the scientific investigation and acquisition of new knowledge based upon verifiable evidence. In addition to employing the scientific method in their research, sociologists explore the social world with several different purposes in mind.
Like the physical sciences i. This approach to doing science is often termed positivism though perhaps more accurately should be called empiricism. The positivist approach to social science seeks to explain and predict social phenomena, often employing a quantitative approach where aspects of social life are assigned numerical codes and subjected to in-depth analyses to uncover trends often missed by a casual observer.
This approach most often makes use of deductive reasoning , which initially forms a theory and hypothesis, which are then subjected to empirical testing. Unlike the physical sciences, sociology and other social sciences, like anthropology also often seek simply to understand social phenomena. Max Weber labeled this approach Verstehen , which is German for understanding. This approach, called qualitative sociology, aims to understand a culture or phenomenon on its own terms rather than trying to develop a theory that allows for prediction.
Qualitative sociologists more frequently use inductive reasoning where an investigator will take time to make repeated observations of the phenomena under study, with the hope of coming to a thorough and grounded understanding of what is really going on.
Both approaches employ a scientific method as they make observations and gather data, propose hypotheses, and test or refine their hypotheses in the formulation of theories. These steps are outlined in more detail below. Sociologists use observations, hypotheses, deductions, and inductions to understand and ultimately develop explanations for social phenomena in the form of theories.
Predictions from these theories are tested. If a prediction turns out to be correct, the theory survives. If not, the theory is modified or discarded. The method is commonly taken as the underlying logic of scientific practice. Science is essentially an extremely cautious means of building a supportable, evidenced understanding of our natural and social worlds.
The essential elements of a scientific method are iterations and recursions of the following four steps:. A scientific method depends upon a careful characterization of the subject of the investigation.
The systematic, careful collection of measurements, counts or categorical distinctions of relevant quantities or qualities is often the critical difference between pseudo-sciences, such as alchemy , and a science, such as chemistry.
Scientific measurements are usually tabulated, graphed, or mapped, and statistical manipulations, such as correlation and regression , performed on them. The measurements might be made in a controlled setting, such as a laboratory, or made on more or less inaccessible or unmanipulatable objects such as human populations. The measurements often require specialized scientific instruments such as thermometers, spectroscopes, or voltmeters, and the progress of a scientific field is usually intimately tied to their invention and development.
These categorical distinctions generally require specialized coding or sorting protocols that allow differential qualities to be sorted into distinct categories, which may be compared and contrasted over time, and the progress of scientific fields in this vein are generally tied to the accumulation of systematic categories and observations across multiple natural sites. In both cases, scientific progress relies upon ongoing intermingling between measurement and categorical approaches to data analysis.
Measurements demand the use of operational definitions of relevant quantities a. That is, a scientific quantity is described or defined by how it is measured, as opposed to some more vague, inexact or idealized definition.
The operational definition of a thing often relies on comparisons with standards: In short, to operationalize a variable means creating an operational definition for a concept someone intends to measure. Similarly, categorical distinctions rely upon the use of previously observed categorizations. A scientific category is thus described or defined based upon existing information gained from prior observations and patterns in the natural world as opposed to socially constructed "measurements" and "standards" in order to capture potential missing pieces in the logic and definitions of previous studies.
In both cases, however, how this is done is very important as it should be done with enough precision that independent researchers should be able to use your description of your measurement or construction of categories, and repeat either or both. The scientific definition of a term sometimes differs substantially from its natural language usage. For example, sex and gender are often used interchangeably in common discourse, but have distinct meanings in sociology.
Scientific quantities are often characterized by their units of measure which can later be described in terms of conventional physical units when communicating the work while scientific categorizations are generally characterized by their shared qualities which can later be described in terms of conventional linguistic patterns of communication.
Measurements and categorizations in scientific work are also usually accompanied by estimates of their uncertainty or disclaimers concerning the scope of initial observations. The uncertainty is often estimated by making repeated measurements of the desired quantity. Uncertainties may also be calculated by consideration of the uncertainties of the individual underlying quantities that are used. Counts of things, such as the number of people in a nation at a particular time, may also have an uncertainty due to limitations of the method used.
Counts may only represent a sample of desired quantities, with an uncertainty that depends upon the sampling method used and the number of samples taken see the central limit theorem. A hypothesis includes a suggested explanation of the subject. In quantitative work, it will generally provide a causal explanation or propose some association between two variables.
If the hypothesis is a causal explanation, it will involve at least one dependent variable and one independent variable. In qualitative work, hypotheses generally involve potential assumptions built into existing causal statements, which may be examined in a natural setting. Variables are measurable phenomena whose values or qualities can change e. A dependent variable is a variable whose values or qualities are presumed to change as a result of the independent variable.
In other words, the value or quality of a dependent variable depends on the value of the independent variable. Of course, this assumes that there is an actual relationship between the two variables.
If there is no relationship, then the value or quality of the dependent variable does not depend on the value of the independent variable. An independent variable is a variable whose value or quality is manipulated by the experimenter or, in the case of non-experimental analysis, changes in the society and is measured or observed systematically.
Perhaps an example will help clarify. Promotion would be the dependent variable. Change in promotion is hypothesized to be dependent on gender. Scientists use whatever they can — their own creativity, ideas from other fields, induction, deduction, systematic guessing, etc. There are no definitive guidelines for the production of new hypotheses.
The history of science is filled with stories of scientists claiming a flash of inspiration , or a hunch, which then motivated them to look for evidence to support, refute, or refine their idea or develop an entirely new framework. A useful quantitative hypothesis will enable predictions, by deductive reasoning, that can be experimentally assessed. If results contradict the predictions, then the hypothesis under examination is incorrect or incomplete and requires either revision or abandonment.
If results confirm the predictions, then the hypothesis might be correct but is still subject to further testing. Predictions refer to experimental designs with a currently unknown outcome. A prediction of an unknown differs from a consequence which can already be known.
Once a prediction is made, a method is designed to test or critique it. The investigator may seek either confirmation or falsification of the hypothesis, and refinement or understanding of the data. Though a variety of methods are used by both natural and social scientists, laboratory experiments remain one of the most respected methods by which to test hypotheses.
Scientists assume an attitude of openness and accountability on the part of those conducting an experiment. Detailed record keeping is essential, to aid in recording and reporting on the experimental results, and providing evidence of the effectiveness and integrity of the procedure.
They will also assist in reproducing the experimental results.
An introduction to research methods in Sociology covering quantitative, qualitative, primary and secondary data and defining the basic types of research method including social surveys, experiments, interviews, participant observation, ethnography and longitudinal studies.
Sociological Research: Designs, Methods Sociologists use many different designs and methods to study society and social behavior. Most sociological research involves ethnography, or “field work” designed to depict the characteristics of a population as fully as possible.
Although claims and opinions are part of sociology, sociologists use empirical evidence (that is, evidence corroborated by direct experience and/or observation) combined with the scientific method or an interpretive framework to deliver sound sociological research. They also rely on a theoretical foundation that provides an interpretive. Filter by Custom Post Type. Home» Sociology» Research Methods in Sociology. Research Methods in Sociology.
Sociological knowledge has a strong empirical core, meaning that sociologists’ statements from research are based on data or evidence. Sociologists employ a variety of research methods that may follow the scientific method to evaluate formal hypotheses, or be more humanistic and focus on ways people themselves understand and describe their social worlds. Introduction to Sociology/Sociological Methods. From Wikibooks, open books for an open world Qualitative methods of sociological research tend to approach social phenomena from the Verstehen perspective. Rather than attempting to measure or quantify reality via mathematical rules, qualitative sociologists explore variation in the natural.