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Summary - Class notes - Social Research Methods
1509490800 Social research methods week 44
4 types of theoriesGrand Theories, middle- range theories, background literature and empirical generalization.
Grand TheoriesTheories on a high level of abstraction, these theories refer to general ideas. These theories are often difficult to grasp in social research.
Example: Structural functionalism, symbolic interactionism
Middle- range theoriesAttemps to understand/explain more limited aspects of social life and focus on empirical inquiry. Middle- range theory is still difficult and a quite big theorie.
Example: Conflict theory, the conflict theory states that the more time two ethnic groups spend together, the more conflicts will arise.
Background literatureDifferent theories and ideas that have been established as a proxy for theorie
Example: early research on emotional labour are forming the basis for conducting and interpreting new research
Empirical generalizationAn isolated proposition (voorstel) about a relationship, between two or more variables.
Example: higher educated people are more likely to vote left- wing parties than low educated
Deductive approach (theory vs observations/findings)Theory --> observations/findings
Inductive approach (theory vs observations/findings)Observations/findings --> theory
Iterative processA process for getting to a decision or desired result by repeating rounds of analysis or a cycle of operations. Each repetition should bring you closer to the desired result. Weaving back and forth between induction and deduction.
ParadigmA set of models and theories that form the outlines of what is considered reality
Quantatative data is in general:
Qualitative data is in general:
People base their (non scientific) knowledge on the following 5 things- Belief/intuition
- Consensus (majority agrees on a certain thing to be true)
- Authority (opinion of political leaders, scientists, experts etc.)
- Casual observation
- informal logic
We need scientific methods for valid knowledge. A scientific method should contain the following 6 criteria:1. Hypothesis is empirically testable
2. Replicable (if you repeat it you get the same data)
3. Objective: research should be possible without the researcher (independently)
4. The research must be replicable by anyone and transparant to the public
5. Research hypothesis should be falsifiable (contradiction must at least be imaginably possible)
6. Logically consistent. Hypothesis must be internally coherent and conclusion logically consistent
What criteria are part of the scientific attitude- Open/transparant
- If there's a better argumentation, you should let go of your old hypothesis
- Accepting critique
What is more interesting, an accurate or inaccurate observation.Accurate observation is not interesting (open deur in trappen)
Inaccurate observation is interesting
When does a observation become useful?When it contradicts or confirms a hypothesis
Supported (certain) HypothesisHypothesis is based on multiple other studies
Unsupported (uncertain) hypothesisRelatively new and untested hypothesis
LawVery precise description of relations or patterns. Laws are uncommon in social sciences because we can't be that precies
Example: Law of gravity
TheoryBroad overarching explanation of many phenomena
Theory is build up out of hypothesis that are strongly supported by many observations. Is this natural and behavior sciences or social sciences?Natural and behavior sciences
Theory is highly plausible when it has withstood attempts to reform it. Is this natural and behavior sciences or social sciences?Social Sciences
True or false
In science there is no certainty only a provisional best explanationTrue
Analytical statementA statement that doesn't depend on the state of the world, they don't require observations to be verified. They're verifiable through formal logic
Example: Definitions, math etc
Synthetic statementA statement that depends on the state of the world, they require observations to be verified. These statements should be publicly accessible.
OntologyWhat is there to know (what is real, what exists)
EpistomologyHow can we know it? (what knowledge is accessible? how do we access it?)
Epistomology RationalismKnowledge through reasoning (they're born and innate)
Epistemology EmpiricismKnowledge through sensory experience (tabula rasa)
IdealismA phylisophical view that states that reality, as we perceive it, exists entirely in our mind. Reality is a mental construct.
MaterialismThere is an external world, independent of our mind. Everything consists of physical matter. Everything is a result of interaction between physical stuff. (including consciousness, feelings, thoughts etc.)
Scientific realismUniversal like gravity, love etc. don't exist independently from our observations. Therefore scientific realism sees the unobservable universals as equally valuable as the observables
NominalismAccepts reality as independent of human thoughts but denies the existence of universals. There is no gravity, just falling objects and we only use terms like gravity to make sense of the world but these universals don't really exist
ConstructivismThe nature of social phenomena depends on the social actors involved. This means reality is not independent and external but reality is considered primarily a mental construction that depends on the observer and the context. (it's constructed)
Interpretevist viewAssume that a reserachers experience or observation of a social phenomena can be very different from how the people who are involved in the social phenomena experienc them themselves. ( the focus should lay on understanding the phenomena from the point of view of the people involved)
3 different interpretivist viewsHermeneutics
Phenomenology (interpretivist)People are not objects, they think and feel about the world around them, this influences their actions. To understand their actions it's necessary to investigate the meaning they attach to the phenomena that they experience. This means investigating how people experience the world through their perspective. It's necessary for a researcher to eliminate as many of their own preconceived notions as they possibly can.
Verstehen (interpretivist) associated with.....Associated with Max Weber.
It refers to the empathic understanding of social phenomena. Researchers need to assume the perspective of the researched subjects to interpret how they see the world; only then can a researcher try to explain their actions.
Problems with constructivist interpretivist view (qualitative approach to science)- layered interpretation: researcher interprets the subjects interpretations and then interprets the findings again in a placed framework or related to a theory, with every layer added there's more chances of misinterpretation.
- Lack of comparability: When a phenomenon is subjective and means different things in different cultures, you just cannot compare them. This means we can never come up with general theories or universal explanations that apply to more than just particular groups in particular periods of time
- Difference in frame of reference: if the frame of reference of the researcher is very different, it can be hard for the researcher to assume the subjects point of view. This makes it hard to find out what the relevant aspects of the social contexts even are.
Objectivist positivist view (quantitative approach to science)observations are collected which can be counted so that data can be aggregated over many researched subjects. the subjects are intended to represent a much larger group, possibly to support a universal explanation or claim. the data are analyzed using quantitative statistical techniques
What is meant by social research and why do we do it?Academic research on topics relating to questions in the social scientific fields
We don't understand everything yet and therefore it's interesting to do research
7 elements of the proces of social researchLiterature review
Theories and concepts
Literature review:- Literature review: what is already known of the topic, what theories are there, who are big contributors, what research methods have been applied, what controversies exist etc.
Theories and concepts- Theories and concepts(language, power, charisma, status etc.) what concepts or theories are there and which are you going to use
1. Difference between hypothesis and research question:
2. Research questions are important because:
3. What kind of research questions are there?1. hypothesis is not stated as a question and it provides an anticipation of what will be found out.
2. Guide you literature search
Guide your decisions about the kind of research design to employ
Guide your decisions about what data to collect an from whom
Guide your analysis of data
Guide your writing up of your data
Stop you from going off in unnecessary directions
Provide your readers with a clearer sense of what your research is about
- Predicting an outcome
- Explaining causes and consequences of a phenomenon
- Evaluating a phenomenon
- Describing a phenomenon
- Developing good practice
Sampling casesA case is a researched group (humans, organisation etc.) and we make a sample because we can never research everyone or everything
Structured and unstructuredStructured: structured interview, questionnaire (deductive)
Unstructured: participant observation, semi structured interview (inductive)
TranscriptionData analysis is fundamentally about data reduction. Transcription is coding the data.
Writing upIn general it goes the following way:
- Literature reveiw
- Research methods
Quantitative research aims to:
Qualitative research aims to:Explain
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