Summary Class notes - Social Research Methods

Course
- Social Research Methods
- flikkertje
- 2017 - 2018
- VU
- Anthropology
250 Flashcards & Notes
2 Students
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Summary - Class notes - Social Research Methods

  • 1509490800 Social research methods week 44

  • 4 types of theories
    Grand Theories, middle- range theories, background literature and empirical generalization.
  • Grand Theories
    Theories 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 theories
    Attemps 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 literature
    Different 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 generalization
    An 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 process
    A 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.
  • Paradigm
    A set of models and theories that form the outlines of what is considered reality
  • Quantatative data is in general:
    Deductive/inductive
    Positivism/interpretivism
    Objectivism/constructionism
    Deductive
    Positivism
    Objectivism
  • Qualitative data is in general:
    Deductive/inductive
    Positivism/interpretivism
    Objectivism/constructionism
    Inductive
    Interpretivism
    Constructionism
  • 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
    - Critical
    - 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) Hypothesis
    Hypothesis is based on multiple other studies
  • Unsupported (uncertain) hypothesis
    Relatively new and untested hypothesis
  • Law
    Very precise description of relations or patterns. Laws are uncommon in social sciences because we can't be that precies

    Example: Law of gravity
  • Theory
    Broad 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 explanation
    True
  • Analytical statement
    A 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 statement
    A statement that depends on the state of the world, they require observations to be verified. These statements should be publicly accessible.
  • Ontology
    What is there to know (what is real, what exists)
  • Epistomology
    How can we know it? (what knowledge is accessible? how do we access it?)
  • Epistomology Rationalism
    Knowledge through reasoning (they're born and innate)
  • Epistemology Empiricism
    Knowledge through sensory experience (tabula rasa)
  • Idealism
    A phylisophical view that states that reality, as we perceive it, exists entirely in our mind. Reality is a mental construct.
  • Materialism
    There 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 realism
    Universal like gravity, love etc. don't exist independently from our observations. Therefore scientific realism sees the unobservable universals as equally valuable as the observables
  • Nominalism
    Accepts 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
  • Constructivism
    The 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 view
    Assume 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 views
    Hermeneutics
    Phenomenology
    Verstehen
  • 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 research
    Literature review
    Theories and concepts
    Research questions
    Sampling cases
    Data collection
    Data analysis
    Writing up
  • 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


    3. 
    - Predicting an outcome
    - Explaining causes and consequences of a phenomenon
    - Evaluating a phenomenon
    - Describing a phenomenon
    - Developing good practice
    - Empowerment
  • Sampling cases
    A case is a researched group (humans, organisation etc.) and we make a sample because we can never research everyone or everything
  • Data collection

    Structured and unstructured
    Structured: structured interview, questionnaire (deductive)
    Unstructured: participant observation, semi structured interview (inductive)
  • Data analysis

    Transcription
    Data analysis is fundamentally about data reduction. Transcription is coding the data.
  • Writing up
    In general it goes the following way:
    - Introduction
    - Literature reveiw
    - Research methods
    - Results
    - Discussion
    - Conclusion
  • Quantitative research aims to:
    Qualitative research aims to: 
    Explain

    Understand
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Confirmability
Neutrality of the researcher. You want the POV of the participant and not the researcher (cultural relativism)
- Confirmability audit: another researcher takes everything you've done (reflexive journal, field notes, visual records etc.) and they look at it and make a judgement in how neutral you are and in what level you take your own vision etc. into the research.
- Triangulation
- Reflexive journal: if you are keeping your mind open about what your doing and what your thinking, it's always going to be better in confirmability.
Dependability

Consistency of your findings- Is my instrument consistent (In qualitative research, you are the instrument)
- Stepwise replication (you need 2 people) analysing the data where 2 researchers take 2 different portions of the data, they analyse it and they compare their analyses. If they have the same data they should have the same outcome.
- Code recode procedure: You examine your data on a certain moment and later, you analyse the data again and you compare if you find the same things.
- Peer examination: You let another researcher verify or confirm the data, it has to be a person who is similar to you.
Transferability
Do my findings apply to other people and time periods?
- nominated sample: sample that is nominated by a panel of judges who know the most of the population
- Comparing sample to population demographics
- Time sampling: conducting research in multiple time periods.
Credibility (geloofwaardigheid)
- Field experience is long enough and varied enough
- Time sample (Use the same time, every time, because things might change in different time spans)
- Reflexivity (use a field journal where you write everything down you do) (it's a way to show what you have done to someone who is reading your research)
- Triangulation: different ways of getting data or different ways of analysing data
- Member checking: you go back to the members where the data was collected from and you ask if the data is/was right.
- Peer examination: you have another researcher examine your work
- Interviewing Techniques: this means you ask the same thing but in different ways, by phrasing the sentence different. If you get the same answers your credibility increases
- Structural coherence: is the report logical from the data
- Establishing researcher's authority: telling your readers who you are as a researcher, what is your knowledge of the field, the experience with the methods you use, your attitude to this research.
Different kinds of research questions are better answered by one strategy than another, or does it not matter?
It matters, some questions are better answered with a particular research strategy
True or falseQuantitative research is better suited for the study of macro phenomena (social mobility)Qualitative research is better suited for the study of micro phenomena(small group interaction)
Both True
True or false:Quantitative research is often used to identify patterns and qualitative research is often used to contextualise those patterns
TRUE
Can quantitative research help to form the basis for representative sampling in qualitative research?
YES

For example: samples of people or companies, with particular sets of characteristics, provide the foundation for in- depth interviewing or case study.
Aiding measurement:
Focus groups and semi structured interviews can provide the measurements of concepts to be tested in quantitative research, leading to much more appropriate specification of questions. 

For instance, the results of qualitative research can be used to inform the design of survey questions.
ExplanationTRUE OR FALSE Qualitative researchers constantly face the problem of explaining the relationships between variablesTRUE OR FALSEQuantitative researcher can discover the presence and role of intervening variables
FALSE
FALSE

Quantitative and qualitative should be turned around.