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AIM: HOW DO SOCIAL SCIENTISTS STUDY THE SOCIAL WORLD?

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Title: AIM: HOW DO SOCIAL SCIENTISTS STUDY THE SOCIAL WORLD?


1
Doing Social Research
  • AIM HOW DO SOCIAL SCIENTISTS STUDY THE SOCIAL
    WORLD?

2
What is Anthropology?
  • The discipline of anthropology studies humankind
    in its entirety and aims to produce useful
    generalizations about the behavior of people
    around the world and throughout time.
  • Anthropology follows the holistic perspective,
    meaning that through cross-cultural comparison we
    can recognize both the great diversity between
    people as well as the human characteristics that
    unite us all.

3
Holism
  • Study of a culture by looking at all the parts of
    the system and how those parts are interrelated

4
Anthropology
  • Anthropology the systematic study of humankind.
  • What do we mean by systematic?
  • Scientific Method
  • Empirical based on observation and experiment
  • Positivism - only authentic knowledge is that
    which is based on sense, experience and positive
    verification
  • Concept a cognitive unit of meaning, an
    abstract idea or a mental symbol
  • Variable logical set of characteristics of an
    object
  • Hypothesis
  • Theory

5
Quantitative v. Qualitative
  • Social Research Methods May Be Divided into two
    broad schools
  • Quantitative research approaches social phenomena
    through numerical tabulations and statistical
    comparisons made possible by systematic surveys,
    observations, or analysis of records. Data is
    used to test hypotheses and create valid and
    reliable, general claims.
  • Qualitative research uses rich descriptions of
    cultural situations obtained from interviewing,
    participant observation, and collection of oral
    and textual materials.
  • Ethnographies are reports from qualitative
    research.

6
Scientific Explanation
  • Empirical Evidence (data) ? information we can
    verify with our common sense
  • Science ? a logical system that bases knowledge
    on direct, systematic observations concerning
    human behavior
  • The goal of scientific explanation is to permit
    the scientist to move beyond simple descriptions
    to make reliable statements concerning the nature
    of relationships existing in observed phenomena.
    Reliable statements posses a high degree of
    certainty that what is predicted will be the
    successful combination of theory and relevant
    research.

7
Systematic plan for conducting research
  • Experiment ? a research method for investigating
    cause and effect under highly controlled
    conditions
  • Hypothesis ? an unverified statement of a
    relationship between variables
  • A hunch or guess that is generally stated as a
    proposition of the ifthen variety
  • Hawthron Effect ? a change in the subjects
    behavior caused by the awareness of being studied

8
Science The Basic Elements and Limitations
  • Positivism ? only authentic knowledge is that
    which is based on sense, experience and positive
    verification
  • Concept ? refers to either relations or
    descriptions. Concepts are not statements and are
    neither true nor false
  • When concepts are interrelated in a scheme, a
    theory begins to emerge
  • Variable ? a trait or characteristic that can
    vary in value from case to case
  • Characteristics that are variables can be made
    constant through experimental design, as when a
    researcher focuses on people of the same age,
    sex, social class, etc., in order to study
    variation in other traits
  • Measurement ? a set of rules for the assignment
    of numbers to the different outcomes a variable
    can exhibit
  • Concepts such as an inch, meter, etc., do not
    exist in nature but are arbitrary measures of
    length, with agreed upon meanings, invented by
    scientists
  • Examples Strongly Agree, Agree, Neutral,
    Disagree, Strongly Disagree

9
  • Reliability ? consistency in measure
  • In order to have reliability, the test must be
    able to be replicated and receive the same
    results
  • Validity ? precision in measuring exactly what
    one intends to measure. A test must measure
    exactly what it says it will measure
  • In order for research to be true, it must have
    both reliability and validity
  • Correlation ? measured strength between two
    variables
  • Control ? holding constant all variables except
    one in order to see clearly the effect of that
    variable

10
Ethnography
  • Ethnos (Greek) to describe a people
    Grapho to write
  • Ethnography aims to describe the nature of those
    who are studied through writing.
  • Might be called a field study or case report.
  • Description of a culture, usually based on the
    method of participant observation and field work.
  • Field Work living among a group of people for
    the purpose of learning about their culture.
  • Employed for gathering empirical data on human
    societies and cultures.

11
Ethnography
  • Anthropological texts are usually written in the
    present.
  • Many societies have changed since original
    fieldwork was done.
  • Importance of studies of these peoples does not
    lie primarily in their historical or genealogical
    explanatory power, but rather in their
    contribution to our understanding of similarities
    and differences of social life in general.

12
Cultural Social Anthropology
  • Developed around ethnographic research and their
    canonical texts which are mostly ethnographies
  • Argonauts of the Western Pacific (1928) by
    Bronislaw Malinowski
  • Coming of Age in Samoa (1928) by Margaret Mead
  • The Nuer (1940) by E.E. Evans-Pritchard

13
The Range of Ethnographies
  • We Eat the Mines and the Mines Eat Us (1979)
    June Nashs description of Bolivian tin miners
    and the ways in which transnational economic
    processes affect their lives.
  • Tuhami Portrait of a Moroccan (1980) Vincent
    Crapanzanos ethnographic biography describes his
    encounter with an illiterate Moroccan tile maker
    who believes himself married to a camel-footed
    she-demon.
  • The Channeling Zone American Spirituality in an
    Anxious Age (1997) Michael Brown presents a
    fascinating look at the lives and experiences of
    New Age channellers and their place in
    contemporary American spiritual life.
  • Medusas Hair (1981) Gananath Obeyesekere
    brings insight from psychoanalysis to bear on
    personal symbols and religious experience among
    ecstatic priests and priestesses in Sri Lanka.
  • Geisha (1983) Liza Dalby trained as a geisha in
    Kyoto and provides a fascinating look at the
    willow world.
  • Javanese Shadow Plays, Javanese Selves (1987)
    Ward Keeler lived with a Javanese puppeteer for
    several years and wrote this fascinating account
    of an ancient art form, is practitioners, and its
    place in modern culture

14
Typical Ethnography
  • Attempts to be holistic
  • Typically follows an outline
  • Brief history of culture being studied
  • Analysis of physical geography / terrain
    inhabited by the people, including climate and
    habitat
  • Material Culture, technology and means of
    subsistence (associated with physical geography
    and include descriptions of infrastructure)
  • Kinship Social Structure (age grading, peer
    groups, gender, voluntarily association, clans,
    etc. )
  • Languages spoken, dialects and history of
    language change
  • Practices of childrearing, acculturation and
    native (emic) views and values

(1955)
15
Data Collection
  • Participant Observation
  • Interviews
  • Questionnaires
  • Surveysjust to list a few

16
Participant Observation
  • Direct, first-hand observation of daily
    participation.
  • Living among the people being studied
    observing, questioning, and taking part in the
    important events of the group while also keeping
    a detailed record of your observations and
    interviews.
  • Obtrusive Effect you thrust yourself into the
    culture, changing what is taking place.

17
Participant Observation
  • Generally agreed that the anthropologist ought to
    stay in the field long enough for his or her
    presence to be considered more or less natural
    by the permanent residence.
  • Anthropologist should also learn the local
    language as not have mistakes in translation or
    meaning.

18
Participant Observation
  • The anthropologist is the most important
    scientific instrument used, investing a great
    deal of his or her own personality in the
    process.
  • Anthropological writings are shaped by each
    authors biography, literary style, and rhetoric,
    as wells as the historical period in which they
    are writing (such as colonialism).
  • The gender, age, race and class of the
    anthropologist inadvertently influences the field
    work.

19
Doing Anthropology
  • http//www.youtube.com/watch?vBhCruPBvSjQ

20
Emic v. Etic Perspective
  • Emic life as experienced and described by the
    members of a society themselves.
  • Natives point of view
  • Etic Analytical description or explanation of
    the researcher.
  • Cultural Relativism understanding the ways of
    other cultures and not judging these practices
    according to one's own cultural ways.

21
Emic v. Etic Perspective
  • Reasons why anthropologists view may never be an
    emic description
  • Usually have to translate between two different
    languages
  • Use a written medium to reproduce oral statements
  • Meaning of utterances changes when they are
    transformed into writing
  • Anthropologist can never become identical with
    the people he or she writes about.
  • Only true emic descriptions possible in
    anthropology are therefore accounts written by
    natives in their vernacular

22
Types of Data Collected during Observation
  • Census Taking
  • Population, age, sex, marital status, household
    composition, age/sex relationship
  • Mapping
  • Locate people, material culture (villages,
    fields, pasture, livestock), environmental
    features (rivers, lakes, mountains)
  • Document Analysis
  • Public records, news papers, diaries, scientific
    publications
  • Geneologies
  • Writing down relatives of informants, kinship
    relationships, how they are referred to,
    addressed, treated
  • Event Analysis
  • Documenting an event as it takes place (fight,
    puberty rite, cooking, marriage)

23
Problems with Participant Observation
  • Precludes a large sample size
  • Problems in recording
  • Limited knowledge of language
  • Ones informants may fail to represent society as
    a whole

24
The Problem of Translation
  • How can we translate an alien way of experiencing
    the world into our own mode of thought?
  • How can we be certain that we do not misinterpret
    or distort the society when we try to describe it
    in our own terms?
  • How can we be entirely certain that we understand
    the alien society and culture at all?

25
The Problem of Translation
  • It is necessary to use abstract terms kinship,
    social organization, social control, religion,
    etc.
  • Terms are necessary for the discipline to be
    comparative in scope
  • Abstract, technical terms used by anthropologists
    rarely exist in societies studied.
  • Descriptive usually close to native
    conceptualization of the world, and a major
    challenge lies in translating native concepts
    into the anthropologists working language.
  • Analysis trying to connect the society to other
    societies by describing it in the comparative
    terms of anthropology.
  • Will describe the society with concepts which do
    not exist in the society itself

26
Dichotomies
  • Dichotomy separation of different or
    contradictory things.
  • Small-scale / Large-scale
  • Oral / Written
  • Traditional / Modern
  • The world as it is studied by anthropologists is
    not characterized by clear, binary boundaries,
    but rather by grey areas and differences in
    degree.
  • Models are not identical with the social world
    but a aid in organizing facts from the social
    world.
  • Dichotomies may be used as scales marked by
    differences in degree rather than absolute
    contrasts.

27
Interviewing
  • May include conversation with different levels of
    form and can involve small talk to long interviews

28
Questionnaires
  • Can be used to aid in the discovery of local
    beliefs and perceptions

29
Asking Questions Survey Questions
  • Survey ? research method in which subjects
    respond to a series of statements or questions in
    a questionnaire or an interview
  • Population ? the larger the population the better
  • Sample ? part of the population that represents
    the whole. The participants in a survey are the
    sample population of that survey
  • Using Available Data
  • Secondary Analysis ? a researcher uses the data
    available
  • Inductive Logic ? from inside out. The researcher
    works from the specific to the general.
    (Individual problem to larger social issue)
  • Deductive Logic ? from outside in. The researcher
    works from the general to the specific. The
    theory is stated first then a hypothesis is
    formed and a method is found to test it

30
Anthropology vs. Sociology
  • Anthropology has traditionally distinguished
    itself from sociology through
  • Emphasis placed on participant observation and
    fieldwork
  • Mainly study non-industrial societies
  • Sociology has concentrated on understanding,
    criticizing, and managing modern societies
  • Anthropologist try to account for variations and
    similarities in human existence and to record
    disappearing peoples ways of life in writing.

31
Ethical Guidelines for Internal Assessment
  • Do not use data for any purpose other than the
    fieldwork for which it was collected.
  • Develop and maintain a working relationship with
    the people that you study so that other
    researchers can continue to work with them.
  • Check with your teacher when the right way to
    behave is not clear.
  • Participate in reviews of the ethical
    considerations in the fieldwork proposals of your
    peers.
  • Fieldwork conducted online is subject to the same
    guide lines.
  • Do no harm to the people who participate in the
    fieldwork.
  • Respect the well-being of humans and the
    environment.
  • Obtain informed consent from the people who are
    the subjects of the fieldwork in a form
    appropriate to the context before you begin,
    providing sufficient information about the aims
    and procedures of the fieldwork.
  • Fieldwork involving children needs the written
    consent of parent(s) or guardian(s).
  • Maintain the anonymity of the people
    participating in the fieldwork, unless
    participants have given explicit permission to
    the contrary.
  • Store all data collected securely in order to
    maintain confidentiality.
  • Be honest about the limits of your training.
  • Do not falsify or make up fieldwork data. Report
    on research findings accurately and completely.

32
Covered Girls (2003)
  • http//www.youtube.com/watch?vzkfXHB48rrs
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