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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

My Notes for Chap 2 SG, How to do Sociology, Part 1

Gotta understand this before we talk about methods.
To hear relevant lectures, click HERE

For 6 misconceptions/assumptions for Chap 2, click HERE

For the causation/correlation example, click HERE

I. Before we can talk about Sociological Research & Methods, we must understand the following question: "What is the sociological perspective?" See Ch 1 for the answer, and for those of you studying along with us, please post your answers in the comments box. Why do I ask this, because there are 2 basics of Sociological Investigation:

1. Apply the sociological perspective (See Chapter 1 of the Main Texts)
2. Be curious & ask questions
a) How does socio-economics affect a child's prospects of an education?
b) Did Moonies become Moonies by choice or via brainwashing?

II. Various "TRUTHS"
1. Saying we "know" something aka belief/faith. (Perhaps supernatural knowledge that Comte refers to?)
2. Truth from "EXPERTS". I hope this is self-explanatory.
3. Simple agreement within society: morals, ethics, what society sees as right & wrong.
4. Scientific "TRUTH": Logical system that bases knowledge on direct, systematic observation dependent on "EMPIRICAL EVIDENCE". Information we can verify with our senses.

Please refer to the 6 common assumptions/misconceptions held by North Americans, please click HERE, a lot of examples of #3 here.

There are accepted as universal "TRUTHS". Remember what momma said, "Believe 1/2 of what you read and none of what you hear."

III. 3 Ways to do Sociology:
1. Scientific: Studying sociology through scientific methods aka "positivism" (see Ch 3 of the SG)
a) Elements of Scientific Sociology:
i) Concept: Simplified, a micro-view of the world; family, race, social class, etc.
ii) Variable: (Think mathematics here), concept whose values change from case to case.
iii) Measurement: Procedure to find the quantitative value of a variable in a specific case.

Related term: Descriptive stats - the "average" for a lot of people.

IV. Defining Concepts: How to measure the abstract? Love, family, intelligence, etc.
A) Operationalizing a variable: Specify exactly what's to be meandered before assigning a value (aka quantifying) to a variable.

Good example: The US presidential election.
1. What percentage of eligible voters will vote?
a) Republicans
b) Democrats
c) Other

2. Socio-economics of voters
a) 18-25
b) 26 - 32
c) 33 - 40

Hope this makes it a little clearer. We can add males/females, race, educational level, etc.

V. Reliability/Validity
A) Reliability is a consistency in measurement. Basically if you get the same results after double, triple, quadruple checking you get the same results, it's considered "RELIABLE".
B) Validity is actually measuring exactly what you intend to measure (concept).
Reliability does not always equal validity, such as correlation does not equal causation.

1. The Validity Dilemma: How to get a valid measurement? How do you measure...
a) How religious people are?
b) How close families are?

2. Relationship among variables: Cause & Effect (see Causation Ch 3 in the SG)

3. Correlation: When variables change together. Remember correlation doesn't equal causation

4. Spurrious Correlation: An apparent but false relationship between 2 or more variables that is caused by some other variable. Please click HERE to see a clearer example.

By holding variables constant and by adding other variable, seeing what happens to the results. So, for CAUSE & EFFECT to be established (valid), it must meet the following requirements:

1. Demonstrated Correlation
2. An independent (causal) variable that occur before the dependent variable
3. No evidence that the 3rd variable could be causing a spurrious correlation.

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