Notes from Earl Babbie's Book: The Practice of Social Research
The science of knowing
(a subfield of epistemology) the science of finding out
Errors in Inquiry
A systematic explanation for the observations that relate to a particular aspect of life
Purview of scientific theory
Scientific theory cannot settle debates about value. It can determine how a system performs, but only in terms of some set of agreed-on criteria
Reference group theory
People judge their lot in life less by objective conditions than by comparing themselves with others around them
includes groups, organizations, collectives, an so forth. Whereas psychologists focus on what happens inside individuals, social scientists study what goes on between them
Logical sets of attributes. the variable sex is made up of the attributes male and female.
Characteristics or qualities that describe an object
a variable with values that are not problematic in an analysis but are taken as simply given. An independent variable is presumed to cause or determine a dependent variable
a variable assumed to depend on or be caused by another (called the independent variable). If you find that income is partly a function of amount of education, income is being treated as a dependent variable
The purposes of social research
An approach to explanation in which we try to exhaust the idiosyncratic causes of a particular condition or event.
An approach to explanation in which we seek to identify a few causal factors that generally impact a class of conditions or events.
The logical model in which general principles are developed from specific observations.
The logical model in which specific expectations of hypotheses are developed on the basis of general principles.
Determinism versus agency
whether humans are determined by their particular environment or whether they feel and act out of their personal choice or agency
Tolerance of ambiguity
The ability to hold conflicting ideas in your mind simultaneously, without denying or dismissing any of them
Qualitative versus quantitative
nonnumerical versus numerical. he is intelligent versus he has an IQ of 120.
A norm in which subjects base their voluntary participation in research projects on a full understanding of the possible risks involved
Anonymity is achieved in a research project when neither the researcher nor the readers of the findings can identify a given response with a given respondent
A research project guarantees confidentiality when the researcher can identify a given person's responses but promises not to do so publicly
Interviewing subjects to learn about their experiences of participation in the project. this is especially important if there's a possibility that they have been damaged by participation.
Objectivity through intersubjectivity
Different scientists, having different subjective views, can and should arrive at the same results when they employ accepted research techniques.
A model or frame of reference through which to observe and understand. Paradigms provide ways of looking. They provide logical frameworks, within which theories are created.
Macrotheory deals with large, aggregate entities of society or even whole societies.
an intermediate level between macro and micro: studying organizations, communities, and perhaps social categories such as gender.
A theory aimed at understanding social life at the intimate level of individuals and their interactions. (still between, not inside individuals)
Coined the term Sociolgie. Postulated three stages of history:
He called the scientific approach Positivism, in contrast to the negative elements he observed in the enlightenment.
Introduced by Auguste Compte, this philosophical system is grounded on the rational proof/disproof of scientific assertions; assumes a knowable, objective reality
A paradigm that views human behavior as attempts to dominate others or avoid being dominated by others
A paradigm that views human behavior as the creation of meaning through social interaction, with those meanings conditioning subsequent interactions.
meaning: methodology of the people.
People continually construct the reality and attempt to make sense of it, like a social scientist.
a paradigm that divides social phenomena into parts, each of which serves a function for the operation of the whole.
Paradigms that (1) view and understand society through the experiences of women and/or (2) examine the generally deprived status of women in society
Critical race theory
A paradigm grounded in race awareness and an intention to achieve racial justice
The thesis that majority group members will only support the interests of minorities when those actions also support the interests of the majority group
A paradigm that questions the assumption of positivism and theories describing an "objective" reality
A paradigm that holds things are real insofar as they produce effects
Law vs. theory
Whereas a law is an observed regularity, a theory is a systematic explanation for observations that relate to a particular aspect of life
Abstract elements representing classes of phenomena within the field of study
Made up of attributes (concepts)
Axiom or postulates
Fundamental assertions, taken to be true, on which a theory is grounded
Specific conclusions, derived from the axiomatic groundwork, about the relationship among concepts
a specified testable expectation about empirical reality that follows from a more general proposition; more generally, an expectation about the nature of things derived from a theory. It is a statement of something that ought to be if the theory is correct.
One step beyond conceptualization. Operationalization is the process of developing operational definitions, or specifying the exact operations involved in measuring a variable
The concrete and specific definition of something in terms of the operations by which observations can be categorized.
The possibility of falsification of a hypothesis. In other words, there must be a chance that the hypothesis is not true, otherwise it is a useless hypothesis
X cause Y (equation)
Social class causes delinquency
Y is a function of X
Delinquency is a function of social class
In connection with hypothesis testing and tests of statistical significance, that hypothesis that suggests there is no relationship among the variables under study. You may conclude that the variables are related after having statistically rejected the null hypothesis.
An empirical relationship between two variables such that (1) changes in one are associated with changes in the other or (2) particular attributes of one variable are associated with particular attributes of the other. Correlation in and of itself does not constitute a causal relationship between the two variables, but it is one criterion of causality
A coincidental statistical correlation between two variables, shown to be caused by some third variable
False criteria for nomothetic causality
Complete causation: Not the only cause
Exceptional cases: Do not disprove the explanation
Majority of cases: Does not need to apply to the majority of the cases
A necessary cause
Represents a condition that must be present for the effect to follow
A sufficient cause
represents a condition that, if it is present, guarantees the effect in question (might not be the only possible cause)
Units of analysis
The what or whom being studied. In social science research, the most typical units of analysis are individual people
Any product of social beings or their behavior. Can be a unit of behavior.
Erroneously drawing conclusions about individuals solely from the observations of groups
A fault of some researchers: a strict limitation (reduction) of the kinds of concepts to be considered relevant to the phenomenon under study