SOCIOLOGY 201 INTRODUCTION TO SOCIOLOGY Fall 2003 - PowerPoint PPT Presentation


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We all realize by the time we are in our preteens that we live in a society. ... One of the sociologist's main tasks is to identify and explain... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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  • Instructor
  • Mark Durieux

A little bit about me
  • Backgrounds in Education, Social Work, and
  • I teach at U of C, MRC, and Athabasca U.
  • My U of C website

About this course
  • Lets have a look at the course outline,
    calendar, etc. (handout).
  • Blackboard.
  • Questions? Concerns?

Todays Agenda
  • Qualities of mind that we need today. (Small
    group discussion).
  • From the sociological point of view
  • Video?
  • Text, chapters 1 2.

To begin
  • Id like to start off this course with a small
    group exercise that will ask you to address an
    important practical question.
  • Which qualities of mind do you feel are proving
    to be essential to our survival as a species in
    this complex and difficult world today?

From Personal Troubles to Social Structures
  • Well, let me give you sociologys answer to
    this critically important question.
  • Which is really a response in terms of other,
    specific, questions.
  • Over the next few slides I borrow heavily from
    another introductory text, Robert Brym et al.
    (2003) Sociology Your compass for a new world.
    pp. 10-13.

From Personal Troubles to Social Structures
  • We all realize by the time we are in our preteens
    that we live in a society.
  • But perhaps we dont fully appreciate the extent
    to which society also lives in us.
  • That is, patterns of social relations affect your
    innermost thoughts and feelings, influence your
    actions, and thus help shape who you are.

From Personal Troubles to Social Structures
Calgary Herald, Thursday, Sept. 9, 2004, p. B3
From Personal Troubles to Social Structures
  • Sociologists call relatively stable patterns of
    social relations
  • social structures.

From Personal Troubles to Social Structures
  • One of the sociologist's main tasks is to
    identify and explain
  • the connection between people's personal troubles
    and the social structures in which people are
  • This is harder work than it may seem at first.

From Personal Troubles to Social Structures
  • Why?
  • Because in our everyday lives, we usually see
    things mainly from our own point of view.
  • Our experiences appear unique to each of us.
  • If we think about them at all, social structures
    may appear remote and impersonal.

From Personal Troubles to Social Structures
  • To see how social structures operate inside us,
    we require sociological training.
  • An important step in that training involves
    recognizing that three levels of social structure
    surround and permeate us.
  • Think of these structures as concentric circles
    radiating out from you

From Personal Troubles to Social Structures
  • Microstructures are patterns of intimate social
  • They are formed during face-to-face interaction.
  • Families, friendship circles, and work
    associations are all examples of microstructures.

From Personal Troubles to Social Structures
  • Understanding the operation of microstructures
    can be useful.
  • Let us say you are looking for a job.
  • You might think you would do best to ask as many
    close friends and relatives as possible for leads
    and contacts.

From Personal Troubles to Social Structures
  • But, sociological research shows that people you
    know well are likely to know many of the same
  • After asking a couple of close connections for
    help landing a job, you would therefore do best
    to ask more remote acquaintances for leads and

From Personal Troubles to Social Structures
  • People to whom you are weakly connected (and who
    are weakly connected among themselves) are more
    likely to know different groups of people.
  • Therefore, they will give you more information
    about job possibilities and ensure that word
    about your job search spreads farther.
  • So, you are more likely to find a job faster if
    you understand "the strength of weak ties" in
    microstructural settings.

From Personal Troubles to Social Structures
  • Macrostructures are patterns of social relations
    that lie outside and above your circle of
    intimates and acquaintances.
  • Macrostructures include class relations,
    bureaucracies, and patriarchy (the traditional
    system of economic and political inequality
    between women and men in most societies).

From Personal Troubles to Social Structures
  • Understanding the operation of macrostructures
    can also be useful.
  • Consider, for example, one aspect of patriarchy.
  • In our society, most married women who work
    full-time in the paid labour force are
    responsible for more housework, child care, and
    care for the elderly than their husbands.

From Personal Troubles to Social Structures
  • Governments and businesses support this
    arrangement insofar as they provide little
    assistance to families in the form of nurseries,
    after-school programs for children, seniors
    homes, and so forth.

From Personal Troubles to Social Structures
  • Yet an aspect of patriarchy -- the unequal
    division of work in the household -- is a major
    source of dissatisfaction with marriage,
    especially in families that cannot afford to buy
    these services privately.

From Personal Troubles to Social Structures
  • Thus, sociological research shows that where
    spouses share domestic responsibilities equally,
    they are happier with their marriages and less
    likely to divorce (Hochschild with Machung,
  • So, in marriages that are in danger of
    dissolving, it is appropriate for us to try to go
    beyond situations where partners blame themselves
    and each other for their troubles.

From Personal Troubles to Social Structures
  • And realize that forces other than incompatible
    personalities often put stress on families.
  • Understanding how the macrostructure of
    patriarchy crops up in everyday life, and doing
    something to change that structure, can thus help
    people lead happier lives.

From Personal Troubles to Social Structures
  • Global structures are the third level of society
    that surrounds and permeates.
  • International organizations, patterns of
    worldwide travel and communication, and the
    economic relations between countries are examples
    of global structures.

From Personal Troubles to Social Structures
  • Global structures are increasingly important as
    inexpensive travel and communication allow all
    parts of the world to become interconnected
    culturally, economically, and politically.

From Personal Troubles to Social Structures
  • Understanding the operation of global structures
    can be useful, too.
  • For instance, many people are concerned about the
    world's poor.
  • They donate money to charities to help with
    famine relief.
  • Some people also approve of the Canadian
    government giving foreign aid to poor countries.

From Personal Troubles to Social Structures
  • But many of those same people do not appreciate
    that charity and foreign aid alone do not seem
    able to end world poverty.
  • That is because charity and foreign aid have been
    unable to overcome the structure of social
    relations among countries that have created and
    now sustain global inequality.

From Personal Troubles to Social Structures
  • Lets stay with this a bit.
  • Britain, France, and other imperial powers locked
    some countries into poverty when they colonized
    them between the seventeenth and nineteenth

From Personal Troubles to Social Structures
  • In the twentieth century, the poor (or
    "developing") countries borrowed money from these
    same rich countries and Western banks to pay for
    airports, roads, harbours, sanitation systems,
    basic health care, and so forth.

From Personal Troubles to Social Structures
  • Today, poor countries pay far more to rich
    countries and Western banks in interest on those
    loans than they receive in aid and charity.

From Personal Troubles to Social Structures
  • Thus, it seems that relying exclusively on
    foreign aid and charity can do little to help
    solve the problem of world poverty.
  • Understanding how the global structure of
    international relations created and helps
    maintain global inequality suggests new policy
    priorities for helping the world's poor.
  • One such priority might involve campaigning for
    the cancellation of foreign debt in compensation
    for past injustices.

From Personal Troubles to Social Structures
  • As these examples illustrate, personal problems
    are connected to social structures at the micro,
    macro, and global levels.
  • Whether the personal problem involves finding a
    job, keeping a marriage intact, or figuring out a
    way to act justly to end world poverty,
    social-structural considerations broaden our
    understanding of the problem and suggest
    appropriate courses of action.

The Sociological Imagination
  • Almost half a century ago, C. Wright Mills (1959)
    called the ability to see the connection between
    personal troubles and social structures
  • the sociological imagination.
  • He emphasized the difficulty of developing this
    quality of mind.
  • What follows is a close, but not exact, quotation
    from Mills book by the same name, pp. 3-4.

The Sociological Imagination
  • Neither the life of an individual nor the history
    of a society can he understood without
    understanding both.
  • Yet people do not usually define the troubles
    they endure in terms of historical change....
  • The well-being they enjoy, they do not usually
    impute to the big ups and downs of the society in
    which they live.

The Sociological Imagination
  • Seldom aware of the intricate connection between
    the patterns of their own lives and the course of
    world history,
  • ordinary people do not usually know what this
    connection means for the kind of people they are
    becoming and for the kind of history-making in
    which they might take part.

The Sociological Imagination
  • They do not possess the quality of mind essential
    to grasp the interplay of 'people' and society,
    of biography and history, of self and world.
  • They cannot cope with their personal troubles in
    such a way as to control the structural
    transformations that usually lie behind them.

The Sociological Imagination
  • What they a quality of mind that will
    help them to see...what is going on in the
    world and...what may be happening within
  • It is this quality...that...may be called the
    sociological imagination. (Mills, 1959 313)

Sociological mumbo-jumbo aside, LRT kids were
  • When Michigan's Lake Superior State University
    compiles its next annual list of tiresome words
    and tedious phrases, it can add root causes to
    the roster requiring immediate banishment from
    the vocabulary.

Sociological mumbo-jumbo aside, LRT kids were
  • That tired old term reared its rhetorical head
    last week after an incident on the Edmonton LRT
    in which 30 aboriginal kids beat up five
    non-aboriginal teens riding the train late at

Sociological mumbo-jumbo aside, LRT kids were
  • University of Alberta sociologist Bryan Hogeveen
    used the dreaded phrase when an Edmonton journal
    reporter phoned him for his views on the

Sociological mumbo-jumbo aside, LRT kids were
  • (Adding police and security guards to the LRT)
    doesn't address the root cause of the problem,
    Hogeveen said.

Sociological mumbo-jumbo aside, LRT kids were
  • Now, granted the reporter called him for
    comment, which is standard journalistic practice,
    but did Hogeveen have to use standard academic
    practice and blame root causes for evil?
  • Click here for the entire article.

In response
  • By now, I hope the sociological message is clear
  • Sociology doesnt have all the answers
  • But its got

One essential question
I - S ???
  • Which, we sociologists believe, will lead us to
    wiser, more humane, social relations.

Sociological mumbo-jumbo aside, LRT kids were
  • With that, developing a sociological imagination
    also leads us to ask other, critically important,
    questions, such as
  • How much of our lives are socially conditioned?
  • vs. authentically our own?

Sociological mumbo-jumbo aside, LRT kids were
  • Lakritz wants to hold the Aboriginal youths
    SOLELY responsible for their actions.
  • She would claim that evil is the cowardice to
    face up to personal choice and responsibility
  • Evil hides behind the flimsy excuses of root

Sociological mumbo-jumbo aside, LRT kids were
  • In sociological terms, what we are considering
    here is known as the debate over
  • Strong parallels to philosophys
  • Free will vs. determinism
  • To what extent do we author our own lives vs.
    have it authored for us?

And now on to the text
  • All of these matters, however, dont belong to
    philosophical speculation.
  • To sociology, they are matters of empirical,
    social scientific investigation.

And now on to the text
  • But lets start with the basics

What is sociology anyway?
  • Simply, the study of society (a product)
  • But more than that
  • It's the study of society in very particular ways
    (a process)

The process is quite specific
  • It involves
  • a distinctive perspective
  • three major theoretical paradigms
  • the logic of science

Sociologys distinctive perspective
  • The general in the particular
  • The strange in the familiar
  • The individual in social context
  • What are the benefits of this perspective?
  • On a micro (personal, small picture) level
  • On a meso (group, middle picture) level
  • On a macro (institutional, large picture) level

Sociologys distinctive perspective contd
  • What are the origins of the sociological
  • The social transformations of the 18th and 19th
    centuries in Europe were enormous and occurred on
    three fronts
  • Science
  • Social change
  • Industrial technology
  • Growth of cities
  • Political change
  • Marginal voices

The general in the particular
  • Sociology helps us see general patterns in what
    particular people DO.
  • Although every individual is unique, society acts
    differently on various categories of people (say,
    children compared to adults, women versus men,
    the rich as opposed to the poor).
  • We begin to think sociologically by realizing how
    the general categories into which we fall shape
    our particular life experiences.

The general in the particular
This is a big part of the sociological
imagination. Its theoretical thinking.
The strange in the familiar
  • For example, one of our most familiar (and
    cherished) ideas is the myth of individual (free)
  • We may not be as free as we think...
  • Even our choice of names is socially conditioned.
  • Would you go and see a movie starring Tom
    Mopother? Right. And thats why Tom Mopother
    changed his name!

The individual in social context
  • What could be more individual a choice than to
    end one's own life?
  • Yet Durkheim showed that suicide is a very
    sociological phenomenon.
  • the more socially integrated people are -- and
    this varies by categories such as gender, wealth,
    and religion -- the less likely they are to
    commit suicide.
  • For more on suicide from a Canadian p.o.v.
    see p. 5 and Fig. 1-1.

The individual in social context Fig. 1-1
What are the benefits of this perspective?
  • On a micro (personal) level
  • Its enlightening
  • Teaches us to critique the truth of common
  • Its strategic
  • teaches us to see realistically what our viable
    options are.
  • it's empowering...
  • the more strategically we can think, the more
    active we can be in our world
  • it's a global survival strategy...
  • in an increasingly complex and diverse world

What are the benefits of this perspective?
  • On a meso (group) level
  • applied sociology can
  • influence public policy
  • prepare you for the working world
  • with advanced training, lead to careers in and
    outside of academia

What are the benefits of this perspective?
  • On a macro (institutional) level
  • Helps us think globally!
  • We can study the larger world and our place in it
  • With a sociologically informed global perspective

Global Map
Its all about industrialization!
Why should we seek a global perspective?
  • Societies are increasingly interconnected.
  • The problems of other societies foreshadow our
  • We gain insight into our own lives by thinking

  • What ought the world to be like?
  • Preoccupation of many, from the earliest times
  • What is the world like?
  • only with folks like Auguste Comte and Emile
    Durkheim did people begin to move toward
    comprehending the world as it actually "is."

Comte, the positivist
  • Early social thought consisted mostly of utopian
    philosophical speculation.
  • In contrast, Auguste Comte, the father of
    sociology (he actually coined the term), felt
    that social thought and explanation should be

Comte, the positivist
  • This approach has now been termed positivism
  • a path to understanding based on
  • Comte believed that societies invariably progress
    through three stages.

Comte, the positivist
Comte, the positivist
  • The theological stage
  • religious explanations, first and final causes
    (the origin and purpose) of all effects supposes
    all phenomena to be produced by the immediate
    action of supernatural beings
  • The metaphysical stage
  • philosophical, and highly abstract
  • The scientific or positive stage.
  • Empiricist, experimentalist, studying the
    inter-relationships between elements of society

Comte, the positivist
  • This was a very specific understanding of what
    science was.
  • Tried to build on the success of the natural
  • He believed that society, like all things in the
    natural world, operated according to certain
    causal mechanisms which were law-like.

Comte, the positivist cont'd
  • This positivistic view of sociology is still
    alive and well today,
  • even though we now realize that human behavior is
    far more complex than the movement of planets or
    the actions of other living things.
  • Human beings are creatures of imagination and
    spontaneity, so what humans do can never be
    explained or predicted fully by the rigid
    laws of a "causal" society.

Industrial technology
  • New scientific discoveries and technological
    advances within the context of a factory-based,
    industrial economy
  • meant that home-based manufacturing (or cottage
    industry) was destroyed
  • workers were drawn out of their homes and into a
    large, urban, and anonymous industrial labour
    force, toiling for strangers -- the factory
  • With that, there was a rapid breakdown of
    tradition and social bonds that had previously
    guided small communities for centuries.

Growth of cities
  • European cities grew with amazing speed
  • Not only did the factories attract people in need
    of work (pull)
  • but rural landowners were compounding the
    migration by forcing tenant farmers to give up
    their lands and so look for work in those new
    factories (push).
  • Cities grew to unprecedented size and with that
    came social problems of the new urbanization
    -pollution, crime, and homelessness among many.

Political change
  • The economic development and growth of cities
    also fostered new ways of thinking.
  • Obligations to God and political rulers gave way
    to concerns for individual liberty and individual

Political change
  • With the French Revolution, the Western world
    broke with political and social tradition.
  • Sociologists, whether they were conservative like
    Comte or radical, like Marx were or all concerned
    with the degeneration of society.

Marginal voices
  • the sociological perspective also originated in
    the thinking of people like
  • Harriet Martineau
  • scholar, translated Comte
  • anti-slavery
  • anti-factory worker exploitation
  • Nellie McClung
  • Canadian, woman, suffragette
  • W.E.B. Du Bois
  • racial oppression and exploitation in the U.S.

three major theoretical paradigms
  • The Structural-Functional Paradigm
  • The Social-Conflict Paradigm
  • The Symbolic-Interaction Paradigm
  • By the way whats a paradigm?
  • Simply a basic image of society that guides
    thinking and research

The Structural-Functional Paradigm
  • sees society as a theoretically complex system
  • parts work together to promote solidarity and
  • so, the emphasis is on social structure
  • meaning relatively stable patterns of human doings

The Structural-Functional Paradigm contd
  • But the emphasis is also on what each part does
  • to promote the integrity of society as a whole.
  • The discussion is then on the functions of the

The Structural-Functional Paradigm contd
  • Drawing initially on a biological metaphor (since
  • Every institution (relatively stable patterns of
    human doings) functions to reproduce society as a

The Structural-Functional Paradigm contd
  • More recently Robert Merton's corrections
  • functions could be

The Structural-Functional Paradigm contd
  • manifest
  • consequences for society both recognized and
  • The manifest function of higher education is to
    provide people with the information and skills
    needed to perform jobs.
  • latent
  • consequences unrecognized and unintended
  • The latent function of higher education is to
    make the college or university into a marriage
    brokering site.
  • Also, keep high school grads from flooding the
    labour market and causing economic distress.

The Structural-Functional Paradigm contd
  • also functions could be dysfunctional
  • institutions could lead to social breakdown or
    undesirable consequences
  • Not every structure, custom, idea, belief, and so
    forth has positive functions.
  • For example, rabid nationalism can be highly
    dysfunctional in a world of proliferating nuclear

The Structural-Functional Paradigm contd
  • Another example of dysfunction
  • Bureaucracies can become so enmeshed in the
    formalities of their red tape processes that
    they lose site of their goals
  • And so fail to achieve their purposes
  • So bureaucratic processes can be dysfunctional

The Structural-Functional Paradigm contd
  • And what about crime?
  • Does it have a manifest function? Latent
    function? Or is it dysfunctional?
  • Any thoughts on this?

The Structural-Functional Paradigm contd
  • structural-functionalism criticisms
  • Is society really that stable?
  • What happened to conflict?
  • Do our many inequalities that generate tension
    and conflict really contribute to the betterment
    of society?
  • a conservative paradigm

The Social-Conflict Paradigm
  • theorizes that society is an arena of inequality
  • conflict and change
  • it is not society as a whole that benefits !
  • but only a privileged few
  • Those who benefit do so on the backs of others

The Social-Conflict Paradigm contd
  • educational tracking -- an example
  • Secondary schools channel students into academic
    or vocational preparation will be
  • Structural- functionalists when would view
    tracking as a good thing
  • Matches schooling and ability
  • This benefits society
  • The conflict theorist shows that tracking has
    less to do with ability than social background
  • The social standing of one generation is passed
    on to the next

The Social-Conflict Paradigm contd
  • social conflicts moral component
  • Not only does the social conflict paradigm try to
    explain society
  • It also tries to change it
  • It has a humanist concern
  • Stands against oppression
  • Stands for Personal and Social flourishing

The Social-Conflict Paradigm contd
  • Marx
  • The philosophers have only interpreted the
    world, in various ways the point, however, is to
    change it."

The Social-Conflict Paradigm contd
  • Note the short discussion of Feminism on p. 20
  • The basic idea here is that feminism is a variant
    of conflict theory because
  • It stresses that there are those in society who
    achieve great privilege at the expense of others
  • Except this time, the privileged are not the
    upper classes but men the oppressed not lower
    classes but women.

The Social-Conflict Paradigm contd
  • Social conflict critical evaluation
  • The focus on conflict means that shared values
    and interdependence -- those things that unify a
    society -- tend to get overlooked.
  • Social conflict is also a very political approach
  • Is scientific objectivity possible?
  • But isn't everything political?

The Symbolic-Interaction Paradigm
  • A bridging criticism of both S-F SC
  • Everything is painted in terms of categories
    that is, with a broad brush
  • Where are the individual human beings?
  • This leads us to symbolic-interactionism

The Symbolic-Interaction Paradigm contd
  • Symbolic interactionists see things from a micro
  • They theorize that society is the product of the
    everyday interaction of individuals
  • How can this be?

The Symbolic-Interaction Paradigm contd
  • From the S I perspective, social reality results
    from our shared interpretations of the world
  • How we (mutually) define our
  • Surroundings
  • Obligations
  • Selves
  • This makes the world what it is

The Symbolic-Interaction Paradigm contd
  • SI then and now
  • Max Weber verstehen
  • Sociologist tries to understand a people -- a
    category of people -- by understanding the point
    of view of those people
  • BUT -- This point of view is at some point
  • For example, Goffman showed how personality as
    it interprets the world and orients us to it is
    often conditioned by our everyday social
    experiences and our mutual histories Simmel

The general in the particular from the S.I.
But, the question of AGENCY
This is a big part of the sociological
imagination. Its theoretical thinking.
The Symbolic-Interaction Paradigm contd
  • SI critical evaluation
  • The emphasis in symbolic interactionism is about
    how people interact with each other
  • So symbolic interactionism is therefore about
  • how individuals actually experience society
  • The risk is that by bringing things down to such
    a micro perspective, the broad effects of culture
    and other factors such as class, gender, and race
    become lost.

Applying the paradigms the sociology of sport
  • I will leave this section to you.
  • Try to see how the three paradigms can be used to
    theorize sport in far different ways.
  • This should help to solidify your understanding
    of the paradigms.

Chapter 2 Sociology Perspective, Theory, and
  • Adapted from Macionis Gerber (2004, 2002)

The process of sociology (contd)
  • It involves
  • a distinctive perspective
  • (last time)
  • three major theoretical paradigms
  • (last time)
  • the logic of science
  • (today)

The logic of science
  • I pick up the discussion on p. 30.
  • Each of the paradigms we looked at last day uses
    science in some way to make its case.

The logic of science (contd)
  • So, beginning on page 30, we find a discussion of
    three sociological frameworks
  • The first framework, scientific sociology is
    not introduced explicity

The logic of science (contd)
  • These frameworks are really ways of knowing or
    epistemologies that are rooted in each of the
    three paradigms.

The logic of science (contd)
  • I think it's important for you to see this
    straight one-to-one correspondence, just so that
    you don't become confused by the next few

Frameworks ? Paradigms
  • scientific sociology ? positivism
  • interpretive sociology ? symbolic
  • critical sociology ? social conflict
  • Now to and lets remember

Framework 1 Scientific sociology
  • Scientific sociology comes out of the
    structural-functionalist paradigm
  • Which, as we saw, has its origins in the natural

Scientific sociology
  • What is science?
  • a logical system of falsification that bases
    knowledge on direct, systematic observation
  • The value of evidence is its ability to challenge
    what we take as common sense.

Concepts, variables, and measurement
  • Concept A basic element of science
  • a mental construct
  • or idea
  • or representation
  • or signifier
  • of the world.
  • concepts point to and stand for certain aspects
    of social reality
  • family the economy gender race or
    social class.

Concepts, variables, and measurement contd
  • Variable a concept whose value changes from case
    to case.
  • The familiar variable price, for example,
    changes from item to item in a supermarket.
  • Similarly, people use the concept social class
    to size up others as upper class, middle
    class, working class, or lower class.

Concepts, variables, and measurement contd
  • But if things/concepts change
  • We need to know
  • whether or not
  • to what degree
  • they change
  • this requires measurement.
  • a procedure for determining the value of change
    or variation of a variable in a specific case.

Concepts, variables, and measurement contd
  • When you measure a variables variation across
    many, many cases
  • You need to aggregate or combine all those
    observations in ways that will make them
    manageable and comprehensible

Concepts, variables, and measurement contd
  • This is what univariate (one variable)
    descriptive statistics do collect many
    observations on one or more variables variation
    and aggregate the whole mess, making it easier to

Reliability and validity
  • Of course, measurement has to be consistent
  • Thats reliability
  • If I step on a bathroom scale 10 times in a row
    and my weight values bounce around dramatically
    with every time I step on
  • Thats unreliable.

Reliability and validity contd
  • Once we have measurement reliability, THEN we can
    worry about validity
  • Are we measuring what we hope were measuring?
  • Even though the bathroom scale consistently /
    reliably says Im 120 lbs. (!)
  • That doesnt mean the scale is a valid measure of
    my weight!

Correlation and cause
  • Scientific sociology is interested in
    establishing cause-and-effect.
  • Achieving this begins with finding a relationship
    (correlation) between two variables
  • X Y
  • Height Weight
  • Education Tolerance
  • This indicates that the two variables seem to go
  • Without saying that one goes before the other in
  • Or that one unambiguously influences (or causes)
    the other

Correlation and cause contd
  • The previous slide demonstrates that it is
  • a long way from a correlation to a causal
  • 3 criteria for establishing causality
  • 1 A correlation or relationship between two
  • 2 Time order.
  • Did X really come before Y?
  • 3 Given 1 2 above, is the relationship
    between X and Y unambiguously genuine
  • This means we have to rule out other possible
    explanations for the relationship

Correlation and cause contd
  • This is all assumed when we hypothesize a causal
    relationship between X and Y.
  • It is diagrammed as
  • X Y
  • X independent (causal / upstream)
  • Y dependent (effect / downstream /
    outcome) variable

The ideal of objectivity
  • Another goal of scientific study is objectivity,
    or personal neutrality.
  • Weber thought that
  • although our values can move us to investigate an
  • They should not interfere with our pursuit of
    empirical truth.

The ideal of objectivity contd
  • Researchers (unlike politicians) must try to stay
    open-minded and willing to accept whatever
    results come from their work, whether they like
    them or not.
  • This is the scientific commitment to the logic of

Framework 2 Interpretive sociology
  • Can the science used to study the natural world
    be used to study people?
  • Interpretive sociologists say No.
  • Humans dont simply behave.
  • Please note my terminology a bit different but
    the basic idea is the same
  • They act on the basis of meanings.
  • And it is the sociologists job to understand the
    meanings that move people to act.

Framework 2 Interpretive sociology contd
  • So interpretive sociology differs from scientific
    sociology in three important ways
  • It focuses on meaningful action, not mere
  • Social reality is not out there its in
    here, in the mind.
  • As a result, interpretive sociology tends not to
    take place in the laboratory but in field
    reality of everyday life.

Framework 2 Interpretive sociology contd
  • The key to the sociologists success is what
    Weber called verstehen
  • This is the sociologists understanding of the
    meanings others have of the world.
  • This is what Anthony Giddens calls
  • The Double Hermeneutic
  • Double interpretation
  • Our interpretation of others interpretations

Framework 3 Critical sociology
  • If interpretive sociology questions what we can
    know (causality vs. meaning)
  • Critical sociology questions how scientific
    sociology can know anything
  • It is so laden with issues of power, privilege
  • Scientific sociology (positivism) seen as
    conservative ideology

Framework 3 Critical sociology
  • The objective here is to create a new egalitarian
    relationship with the research subject
  • Now a research co-creator.
  • Sociologists now politically active
  • Notice how different from value-free sociology

And lets remember
  • There are a couple of other important issues that
    apply to all three of the frameworks weve looked
  • Research and gender
  • Research ethics

Research and gender
  • Regardless of the framework a sociologist
    subscribes to
  • They should be aware of how feminist critique
    relates to their endeavors
  • How can gender influence research?

Research and gender contd
  • Androcentricity seeing the world from a males
    privileged perspective
  • The opposite gynocentricity is potentially
    just as much a problem, but it occurs far less
  • Overgeneralizing.
  • sociologists use data obtained from men to
    support conclusions about all people.
  • Gender blindness.
  • Failing to consider gender at all.

Research and gender contd
  • Double standards.
  • Researchers must be careful not to judge men and
    women differently.
  • For example, a family researcher who labels a
    couple man and wife implies the work of one sex
    is more significant than that of the other.

Research and gender contd
  • Interference.
  • When research participants react to the sex of
    the investigator in ways that interfere with the

Research and gender contd
  • For instance, while conducting research in
    Sicily, Maureen Giovannini (1992) found many men
    reacted to her as a woman rather than as a
  • Gender dynamics kept her from certain activities
    such as private conversations with men that were
    deemed inappropriate for single women.

Women as methodologists
  • Please review this section on your own.

Research ethics
  • Formal guidelines for conducting research are
  • They deal with such things as
  • Technical competency
  • Disclosure of findings
  • The need to protect the rights and welfare of
    research participants
  • Privacy, confidentiality, anonymity
  • Informed consent
  • The use of deception in research
  • Honesty re sources of funding

Research Methods
  • A research method is a systematic plan for
    carrying out your research.
  • Four are widely used
  • Experiments
  • Surveys
  • Participant observation
  • Use of existing sources

  • Experiments are best used to test hypotheses and
    establish cause-and-effect relationships
  • An experimenter gathers the evidence needed to
    accept or reject the hypothesis in three steps

  • measuring the dependent variable (the effect)
  • exposing the dependent variable to the
    independent variable (the cause or treatment)
  • measuring the dependent variable again to see if
    the predicted change took place.

Experiments contd
  • Most experiments occur in laboratories
  • Best control when determining spuriousness
  • However, it is sometimes possible to do
    experiments in the field (that is, in social

  • A survey is a research method in which
    respondents answer a series of statements or
    questions in a questionnaire or an interview.
  • The most widely used of all research strategies
  • well suited to studying what cannot be observed
    directly, such as political attitudes or
    religious beliefs.

Surveys contd
  • A survey targets some population, such as
    unmarried mothers or adults living in rural
    counties of Manitoba.
  • If the population is too large or is unknown
  • Then how surveys use a a sample of the
  • Sometimes though, for purposes of complete
    accuracy, the entire population is surveyed.
  • This is called a census.

Surveys contd
  • Surveys tend to take one of two forms
  • Questionnaires typically pen and paper, filled
    out by the respondent.
  • questions can be open- or closed-ended.
  • Interviews done face to face with a researcher
    asking the questions and probing for further

Participant observation
  • Here and the investigator observes people as they
    go about some aspect of their everyday lives
  • Also known as fieldwork.
  • This is a flexible methodology, useful when
    immersing oneself in complex and/or unfamiliar
    social reality.
  • Participant observers want an insiders
    viewpoint which is often impressionistic
    --without sacrificing objectivity.
  • The methods strength is insightfulness.

Using available data
  • sociologists can save time and money by
    re-analyzing data that has been collected by
  • Called secondary analysis.
  • Interestingly, there are huge amounts of such
    data available, from, for example, Statistics
    Canada, and many other sources.

Using available data
  • Often the data is of surprisingly good quality.
  • However, it can also be the case that the data
    available does not quite match the sociologists
    needs, or is of inferior quality.
  • Moral always be critical of secondary data.

Using available data (contd)
  • Please review the following sections on your own
  • content analysis
  • historical analysis
  • technology and research

The interplay of theory and research
  • Be able to distinguish between the following
    types of research
  • Inductive
  • Deductive

Source Babbie (2001). The Practice of Social
Research. p. 59
  • I will leave the section called Putting it all
    together ten steps in sociological
    investigation to you to read.