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The Real World An Introduction to Sociology Third Edition Kerry Ferris and Jill Stein Chapter 2: Studying Social Life: Sociological Research Methods
Overview of Research Methods • Quantitative research: translates the social world into numbers that can be studied mathematically • Qualitative research: uses nonnumerical data like texts, interviews, photos, and recordings to help understand social life
The Scientific Approach • The scientific method—a procedure for acquiring knowledge that emphasizes collecting data through observation and experiment.
The Scientific Method • • Literature review Hypothesis Variables Operational definitions • Helps determine:
The Scientific Method (con’t. ) • Correlation: a relationship between two variables • Causation: a relationship where one variable causes another variable to change • Spurious correlation: a relationship that seems to appear between two variables, but is actually caused by some external, or intervening, variable.
Paradigm Shifts • Research can lead to what Thomas Kuhn called a paradigm shift, or a change in the way we think about some aspect of life.
Methods: How Do We Gather Data? • There are different ways to collect information about a topic, but each method has benefits and limitations. • When beginning a research project, it is important to consider which method will work best.
Ethnographic Methods • One way to collect to data is through ethnography—studying people in their own environments in order to understand the meanings they give to their activities.
Ethnographic Methods (con’t. ) • Ethnography usually happens in two steps: • The researcher participates in and observes a setting. • Then the researcher makes a written account (field notes) of what goes on there.
Ethnographic Methods (con’t. ) • In participant observation the researcher both observes and becomes a member in a social setting.
Interviews • Interviews involve direct, face-to-face contact with respondents. • Can generate large amounts of qualitative data • Researcher identifies the target population of interest, then selects a sample of people to be interviewed from that population
Interviews (con’t. ) • Interviews can use open-ended questions or closed-ended questions. • Open-ended questions let respondents talk as much as they’d like about the question you asked, whereas closed-ended questions give respondents a choice of answers.
Surveys • Surveys are questionnaires that are administered to a sample of respondents selected from a target population. Survey research tends to look at large-scale social patterns and employs statistics and other mathematical means of analysis.
Existing Sources • Existing sources refer to any data that has already been collected by earlier researchers and is available for future research.
Experimental Methods • Experiments are formal tests of specific variables and effects that are performed in a setting where all aspects of the situation can be controlled.
Experimental Methods (con’t. ) • Many experiments involve: • An experimental group—participants that receive the experimental treatment • A control group—participants that continue without intervention so they can be compared with the experimental group
Sociological Research Methods • The research methods described in this chapter are often applied outside the field of sociology.
The Scientific Approach • Most sociologists believe that they should not allow their personal beliefs to influence their research. • Max Weber coined the phrase value-free sociology, stating that researchers should identify facts without allowing their own personal beliefs or biases to interfere.
Conducting Sociological Research • The American Sociological Association has developed its own code of ethics to help researchers avoid bias and adhere to professional standards and to protect respondents from harm.
Conducting Sociological Research (con’t. ) • Most universities where research is conducted also have an institutional review board, a group of scholars within a university who meet regularly to review and approve the research proposals of their colleagues and make recommendations for how to protect human subjects.
Sociological Research Methods— Concept Quiz If researchers wanted to do a study that required them to analyze income per household and average of people living in the house, they would likely do what kind of research? a. quantitative b. qualitative c. interviews d. participant observation e. ethnography
Sociological Research Methods— Concept Quiz If researchers wanted to do a study that required them to determine the quality of life in a residential campus dorm, they would likely do what kind of research? a. quantitative b. qualitative
Sociological Research Methods— Concept Quiz You’re doing interview research and you ask the following question: “So, will you tell me about your childhood? ” What kind of question did you ask? a. closed-ended question b. open-ended question
Sociological Research Methods— Concept Quiz You’re doing interview research and you ask the following question: “So, what year did you get your first car? ” What kind of question did you ask? a. closed-ended question b. open-ended question
This concludes the Lecture Power. Point presentation for Chapter 2 The Real World AN INTRODUCTION TO SOCIOLOGY 3 rd Edition Kerry Ferris and Jill Stein Visit the Study. Space at: http: //wwnorton. com/studyspace For more learning resources, please visit the Study. Space site for The Real World, 3 e. © 2012 W. W. Norton Co. , Inc. 26