2 PAR ADIGMS, THEORY, AND RESEARCH
What You’ll Learn in This Chapter
Here we’ll examine some of the theoretical points of view that
structure social scientiﬁc inquiry. This lays the groundwork for
understanding the speciﬁc research techniques discussed throughout
the rest of the book.
In this chapter . . .
AN OPENING QUANDARY
An Opening Quandary
S cholars such as George Herbert Mead
make a powerful argument that social
life is really a matter of interactions and their
Some Social Science Paradigms
Macrotheory and Microtheory residue. You and I meet each other for the
Early Positivism ﬁrst time, feel each other out, and mutu-
Conﬂict Paradigm ally create rules for dealing with each other.
Symbolic Interactionism The next time we meet, we’ll probably fall
Ethnomethodology back on these rules, which tend to stay with
Structural Functionalism us. Think about your ﬁrst encounters with
Feminist Paradigms a new professor or making a new friend.
Rational Objectivity Reconsidered Mead suggests that all the social patterns
and structures that we experience are cre-
Two Logical Systems Revisited
ated in this fashion.
The Traditional Model of Science
Other scholars, such as Karl Marx, argue
Deduction and Induction Compared
that social life is fundamentally a struggle
Deductive Theory Construction among individuals and among groups. Ac-
Getting Started cording to Marx, society is a class struggle in
Constructing Your Theory which the “haves” and the “have-nots” are
An Example of Deductive Theory: Distributive pitted against each other in an attempt to
Justice dominate others and to avoid being domi-
nated. He claimed that, rather than being
Inductive Theory Construction
mutually created individuals, rules for be-
An Example of Inductive Theory: Why Do People
havior grow out of the economic structure of
The Links between Theory and Research Which of these very different views of
society is true? Or does the truth lie some-
The Importance of Theory in the “Real
A Quandary Revisited
Review Questions Some restaurants in the United States are fond of
conducting political polls among their diners be-
fore an upcoming election. Some people take these
Multimedia Resources polls very seriously because of their uncanny his-
tory of predicting winners. By the same token,
some movie theaters have achieved similar suc-
SOME SOCIAL SCIENCE PARADIGMS 27
cess by offering popcorn in bags picturing either ing or a poll to determine which candidate is win-
donkeys or elephants. Years ago, granaries in the ning a political race. Similarly, descriptive ethno-
Midwest offered farmers a chance to indicate their graphies, such as anthropological accounts of pre-
political preferences through the bags of grain they literate societies, produce valuable information
selected. and insights in and of themselves. However, even
Such oddities are of some interest. They all have studies such as these often go beyond pure de-
the same pattern over time, however: They work scription to ask why? Theory is directly relevant to
for a while, but then they fail. Moreover, we can’t “why” questions.
predict when or why they will fail. This chapter explores some speciﬁc ways theory
These unusual polling techniques point to the and research work hand in hand during the adven-
shortcoming of “research ﬁndings” based only on ture of inquiry into social life. We’ll begin by look-
the observation of patterns. Unless we can offer ing at several fundamental frames of reference,
logical explanations for such patterns, the regular- called paradigms, that underlie social theories and
ities we’ve observed may be mere ﬂukes, chance inquiry.
occurrences. If you ﬂip coins long enough, you’ll
get ten heads in a row. Scientists might adapt a
SOME SOCIAL SCIENCE PARADIGMS
street expression to describe this situation: “Pat-
Logical explanations are what theories seek to There is usually more than one way to make sense
provide. Theory functions three ways in research. of things. In daily life, for example, liberals and
First, it prevents our being taken in by ﬂukes. If conservatives often explain the same phenome-
we can’t explain why Ma’s Diner has been so suc- non—teenagers using guns at school, for ex-
cessful in predicting elections, we run the risk of ample— quite differently. So might the parents and
supporting a ﬂuke. If we know why it has hap- teenagers themselves. But underlying these differ-
pened, we can anticipate whether it will work in ent explanations, or theories, are paradigms—the
the future. fundamental models or frames of reference we use
Second, theories make sense of observed pat- to organize our observations and reasoning.
terns in ways that can suggest other possibilities. If Paradigms are often difﬁcult to recognize as
we understand the reasons why broken homes such because they are so implicit, assumed, taken
produce more juvenile delinquency than do intact for granted. They seem more like “the way things
homes—lack of supervision, for example—we can are” than like one possible point of view among
take effective action, such as after-school youth many. Here’s an illustration of what I mean.
programs. Where do you stand on the issue of human
Finally, theories can shape and direct research rights? Do you feel that individual human be-
efforts, pointing toward likely discoveries through ings are sacred? Are they “endowed by their cre-
empirical observation. If you were looking for ator with certain inalienable rights,” as asserted by
your lost keys on a dark street, you could whip your the U.S. Declaration of Independence? Are there
ﬂashlight around randomly— or you could use some things that no government should do to its
your memory of where you had been to limit your citizens?
search to more likely areas. Theory, by analogy, di- Let’s get more concrete. In wartime, civilians
rects researchers’ ﬂashlights where they are most are sometimes used as human shields to protect
likely to observe interesting patterns of social life. military targets. Sometimes they are pressed into
This is not to say that all social science research slave labor or even used as mobile blood banks
is tightly intertwined with social theory. Sometimes for military hospitals. How about organized pro-
social scientists undertake investigations simply to grams of rape and murder in support of “ethnic
discover the state of affairs, such as an evaluation cleansing”?
of whether an innovative social program is work- Those of us who are horriﬁed and incensed by
28 CHAPTER 2 PARADIGMS, THEORY, AND RESEARCH
such practices will probably ﬁnd it difﬁcult to see cal for one paradigm to become entrenched, re-
our individualistic paradigm as only one possible sisting substantial change. Eventually, however, as
point of view among many. However, the Western the shortcomings of that paradigm became obvi-
(and particularly U.S. ) commitment to the sanctity ous, a new paradigm would emerge and supplant
of the individual is regarded as bizarre by many the old one. Thus, the view that the sun revolves
other cultures in today’s world. Historically, it is de- around the earth was supplanted by the view that
cidedly a minority viewpoint. the earth revolves around the sun. Kuhn’s classic
While many Asian countries, for example, now book on this subject is titled, appropriately enough,
subscribe to some “rights” that belong to individu- The Structure of Scientiﬁc Revolutions.
als, those are balanced against the “rights” of fam- Social scientists have developed several para-
ilies, organizations, and the society at large. Criti- digms for understanding social behavior. The fate
cized for violating human rights, Asian leaders of supplanted paradigms in the social sciences,
often point to high crime rates and social disor- however, has differed from what Kuhn has ob-
ganization in Western societies as the cost of what served in the natural sciences. Natural scientists
they see as our radical “cult of the individual.” generally believe that the succession of paradigms
I won’t try to change your point of view on indi- represents progress from false views to true ones.
vidual human dignity, nor have I given up my own. No modern astronomer believes that the sun re-
It’s useful, however, to recognize that our views volves around the earth, for example.
and feelings in this matter are the result of the par- In the social sciences, on the other hand, theo-
adigm we have been socialized into; they are not retical paradigms may gain or lose popularity, but
an objective fact of nature. All of us operate within they’re seldom discarded. Social science para-
many such paradigms. For example, the traditional digms represent a variety of views, each of which
Western view of the actual world as an objective offers insights the others lack while ignoring as-
reality distinct from our individual experiences of it pects of social life that the others reveal.
is a deeply ingrained paradigm. Each of the paradigms we’re about to examine
When we recognize that we are operating offers a different way of looking at human social
within a paradigm, two beneﬁts accrue. First, we life. Each makes certain assumptions about the
are better able to understand the seemingly bizarre nature of social reality. Ultimately, paradigms can-
views and actions of others who are operating not be true or false; as ways of looking, they can
from a different paradigm. Second, at times we can only be more or less useful. Rather than deciding
proﬁt from stepping outside our paradigm. Sud- which paradigm is true or false, try to ﬁnd ways
denly we can see new ways of seeing and explain- they might be useful to you. As we shall see, each
ing things. We can’t do that as long as we mistake can open up new understandings, suggest differ-
our paradigm for reality. ent kinds of theories, and inspire different kinds of
Paradigms play a fundamental role in science, research.
just as they do in daily life. Thomas Kuhn (1970)
drew attention to the role of paradigms in the his-
Macrotheory and Microtheory
tory of the natural sciences. Major scientiﬁc para-
digms have included such fundamental viewpoints Let’s begin with a discussion that encompasses
as Copernicus’s conception of the earth moving many of the paradigms to be discussed. Some the-
around the sun (instead of the reverse), Darwin’s orists focus their attention on society at large or at
theory of evolution, Newtonian mechanics, and least on large portions of it. Topics of study for such
Einstein’s relativity. Which scientiﬁc theories “make macrotheory include the struggle among eco-
sense” depends on which paradigm scientists are nomic classes in a society, international relations,
maintaining. and the interrelations among major institutions in
While we sometimes think of science as devel- society, such as government, religion, and family.
oping gradually over time, marked by important Macrotheory deals with large, aggregate entities of
discoveries and inventions, Kuhn says it was typi- society or even whole societies.
SOME SOCIAL SCIENCE PARADIGMS 29
Some scholars have taken a more intimate view could be studied and understood logically and ra-
of social life. Microtheory deals with issues of so- tionally, that sociology could be as scientiﬁc as bi-
cial life at the level of individuals and small groups. ology or physics.
Dating behavior, jury deliberations, and student- Comte’s view came to form the foundation for
faculty interactions are apt subjects for a microthe- subsequent development of the social sciences. In
oretical perspective. Such studies often come close his optimism for the future, he coined the term pos-
to the realm of psychology, but whereas psycholo- itivism to describe this scientiﬁc approach, in con-
gists typically focus on what goes on inside hu- trast to what he regarded as negative elements in
mans, social scientists study what goes on among the Enlightenment. Only in recent decades has the
them. idea of positivism come under serious challenge,
The distinction between macro- and micro- as we’ll see later in this discussion.
theory crosscuts the paradigms we’ll examine
next. While some of them, such as symbolic inter-
To explore this topic in greater depth on
actionism and ethnomethodology, often work best the Web, search for “Auguste Comte,”
at the microlevel, others, such as the conﬂict para- “positivism,” or “positivist paradigm.”*
digm, can be pursued at either the micro- or the
Karl Marx (1818 –1883) suggested that social be-
When the French philosopher Auguste Comte havior could best be seen as the process of conﬂict:
(1798 –1857) coined the term sociologie in 1822, he the attempt to dominate others and to avoid being
launched an intellectual adventure that is still un- dominated. Marx focused primarily on the struggle
folding today. Most important, Comte identiﬁed so- among economic classes. Speciﬁcally, he exam-
ciety as a phenomenon that can be studied sci- ined the way capitalism produced the oppression
entiﬁcally. (Initially he wanted to label his of workers by the owners of industry. Marx’s inter-
enterprise “social physics,” but that term was taken est in this topic did not end with analytical study:
over by another scholar.) He was also ideologically committed to restructur-
Prior to Comte’s time, society simply was. To the ing economic relations to end the oppression he
extent that people recognized different kinds of so- observed.
cieties or changes in society over time, religious The conﬂict paradigm is not limited to economic
paradigms predominantly explained these differ- analyses. Georg Simmel (1858 –1918) was particu-
ences. The state of social affairs was often seen as larly interested in small-scale conﬂict, in contrast
a reﬂection of God’s will. Alternatively, people were to the class struggle that interested Marx. Simmel
challenged to create a “City of God” on earth to re- noted, for example, that conﬂicts among members
place sin and godlessness. of a tightly knit group tended to be more intense
Comte separated his inquiry from religion, re- than those among people who did not share feel-
placing religious belief with scientiﬁc objectivity. ings of belonging and intimacy.
His “positive philosophy” postulated three stages In a more recent application of the conﬂict par-
of history. A “theological stage” predominated adigm, when Michel Chossudovsky’s (1997) analy-
throughout the world until about 1300. During the sis of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and
next ﬁve hundred years, a “metaphysical stage” re- World Bank suggested that these two international
placed God with ideas such as “nature” and “natu- organizations were increasing global poverty
ral law.” Finally, Comte felt he was launching the rather than eradicating it, he directed his attention
third stage of history, in which science would re- to the competing interests involved in the process.
place religion and metaphysics; knowledge would
be based on observations through the ﬁve senses *Each time the Internet icon appears, you’ll be given help-
rather than on belief. Again, Comte felt that society ful leads for searching the World Wide Web.
30 CHAPTER 2 PARADIGMS, THEORY, AND RESEARCH
In theory, the chief interest being served should be or the “micro” aspects of society. He began by ex-
the poor people of the world or perhaps the im- amining dyads (groups of two people) and triads
poverished, Third-World nations. The researcher’s (groups of three), for example. Similarly, he wrote
inquiry, however, identiﬁed many other interested about “the web of group afﬁliations.”
parties who beneﬁted: the commercial lending in- Simmel was one of the ﬁrst European sociolo-
stitutions who made loans in conjunction with the gists to inﬂuence the development of U.S. sociol-
IMF and World Bank and multinational corpora- ogy. His focus on the nature of interactions par-
tions seeking cheap labor and markets for their ticularly inﬂuenced George Herbert Mead (1863 –
goods, for example. Chossudovsky’s analysis con- 1931), Charles Horton Cooley (1864 –1929), and
cluded that the interests of the banks and corpora- others who took up the cause and developed it into
tions tended to take precedence over those of the a powerful paradigm for research.
poor people, who were the intended beneﬁciaries. Cooley, for example, introduced the idea of the
Moreover, he found many policies were weakening “primary group,” those intimate associates with
national economies in the Third World, as well as whom we share a sense of belonging, such as our
undermining democratic governments. family, friends, and so forth. Cooley also wrote of
Whereas the conﬂict paradigm often focuses the “looking-glass self” we form by looking into the
on class, gender, and ethnic struggles, it would be reactions of people around us. If everyone treats us
appropriate to apply it whenever different groups as beautiful, for example, we conclude that we are.
have competing interests. For example, it could See how fundamentally this paradigm differs from
be fruitfully applied to understanding relations the society-level concerns of Marx.
among different departments in an organization, Similarly, Mead emphasized the importance of
fraternity and sorority rush weeks, or student- our human ability to “take the role of the other,”
faculty-administrative relations, to name just a few. imagining how others feel and how they might be-
These examples should illustrate some of the have in certain circumstances. As we gain an idea
ways you might view social life if you were taking of how people in general see things, we develop a
your lead from the conﬂict paradigm. To explore sense of what Mead called the “generalized other.”
the applicability of this paradigm, you might take a Mead also felt that most interactions revolved
minute to skim through a daily newspaper or news around the process of individuals reaching a com-
magazine and identify events you could interpret mon understanding through language and other
in terms of individuals and groups attempting to symbolic systems, hence the term symbolic inter-
dominate each other and avoid being dominated. actionism.
The theoretical concepts and premises of the Here’s one way you might apply this paradigm
conﬂict paradigm might help you make sense out to an examination of your own life. The next time
of these events. you meet someone new, watch how your knowl-
edge of each other unfolds through the process of
interaction. Notice also any attempts you make to
To explore this topic in greater depth on
the Web, search for “conﬂict theory,” manage the image you are creating in the other
“conﬂict paradigm,” or “Karl Marx.” person’s mind.
Clearly this paradigm can lend insights into the
nature of interactions in ordinary social life, but it
can also help us understand unusual forms of in-
teraction, as in the following case. Emerson, Ferris,
Whereas Marx chieﬂy addressed macrotheoretical and Gardner (1998) set out to understand the na-
issues—large institutions and whole societies in ture of “stalking.” Through interviews with numer-
their evolution through the course of history— ous stalking victims, they came to identify different
Georg Simmel (1858 –1918) was more interested in motivations among stalkers, stages in the develop-
the ways individuals interacted with one another, ment of a stalking scenario, how people can rec-
SOME SOCIAL SCIENCE PARADIGMS 31
ognize if they are being stalked, and what they can How did the speakers evoke applause, and what
do about it. function did it serve (for example, to complete a
topic)? Research within the ethnomethodological
paradigm often focuses on communication.
To explore this topic in greater depth on
There’s no end to the opportunities you have for
the Web, search for “interactionist para-
digm,” “interactionism,” “symbolic inter- trying on the ethnomethodological paradigm. For
actionism,” “George Herbert Mead,” instance, the next time you get on an elevator,
“Herbert Blumer,” or “Georg Simmel.” don’t face front watching the ﬂoor numbers whip
by (that’s the norm, or expected behavior). Instead,
just stand quietly facing the rear of the elevator. See
how others react to this behavior. Just as important,
notice how you feel about it. If you do this experi-
While some social scientiﬁc paradigms emphasize ment a few times, you should begin to develop a
the impact of social structure (such as norms, val- feel for the ethnomethodological paradigm.*
ues, and control agents) on human behavior, other We’ll return to ethnomethodology in Chapter
paradigms do not. Harold Garﬁnkel, a contempo- 10, when we discuss ﬁeld research. For now, let’s
rary sociologist, takes the point of view that people turn to a very different paradigm.
are continually creating social structure through
their actions and interactions—that they are, in
To explore this topic in greater depth
fact, creating their realities. Thus, when you and
on the Web, search for “ethnomethod-
your instructor meet to discuss your term paper, ology” or “Harold Garﬁnkel.”
even though there are myriad expectations about
how you should act, the conversation will some-
what differ from any of those that have occurred
before, and how you both act will somewhat mod-
ify your future expectations. That is, discussing Structural functionalism, sometimes also known
your term paper will impact your future interac- as “social systems theory,” grows out of a notion
tions with other professors and students. introduced by Comte and others: A social entity,
Given the tentativeness of reality in this view, such as an organization or a whole society, can be
Garﬁnkel suggests that people are continuously viewed as an organism. Like organisms, a social
trying to make sense of the life they experience. In system is made up of parts, each of which con-
a way, he suggests that everyone is acting like a so- tributes to the functioning of the whole.
cial scientist: hence the term ethnomethodology, or By analogy, consider the human body. Each
“methodology of the people.” component—such as the heart, lungs, kidneys,
How would you go about learning about peo- skin, and brain—has a particular job to do. The
ple’s expectations and how they make sense out of body as a whole cannot survive unless each of
their world? One technique ethnomethodologists these parts does its job, and none of the parts can
use is to break the rules, to violate people’s expec- survive except as a part of the whole body. Or con-
tations. If you try to talk to me about your term pa- sider an automobile, composed of tires, steering
per, but I keep talking about football, any expecta- wheel, gas tank, spark plugs, and so forth. Each of
tions you had for my behavior might come out. We the parts serves a function for the whole; taken to-
might also see how you make sense out of my be- gether, that system can get us across town. None of
havior. (“Maybe he’s using football as an analogy
for understanding social systems theory.”)
In another example of ethnomethodology, John *I am grateful to my colleague, Bernard McGrane, for this
experiment. Barney also has his students eat dinner with
Heritage and David Greatbatch (1992) examined their hands, watch TV without turning it on, and engage in
the role of applause in British political speeches: other strangely enlightening behavior (McGrane 1994).
32 CHAPTER 2 PARADIGMS, THEORY, AND RESEARCH
the individual parts would be of much use to us by in the larger society as a way of understanding why
itself, however. they persist and how they could be eliminated.
The view of society as a social system, then,
looks for the “functions” served by its various com-
To explore this topic in greater depth on
ponents. We might consider a football team as a
the Web, search for “social systems the-
social system— one in which the quarterback, run- ory,” “functionalism,” or “Talcott Par-
ning backs, offensive linemen, and others have sons.” Parsons was the chief architect of
their own jobs to do for the team as a whole. Or, we the “social systems” paradigm and a
could look at a symphony orchestra and examine leading U.S. sociologist.
the functions served by the conductor, the ﬁrst vio-
linist, and the other musicians.
Social scientists using the structural functional
paradigm might note that the function of the po-
lice, for example, is to exercise social control—en- When Ralph Linton concluded his anthropological
couraging people to abide by the norms of society classic, The Study of Man (1937:490), speaking of “a
and bringing to justice those who do not. We could store of knowledge that promises to give man a
just as reasonably ask what functions criminals better life than any he has known,” no one com-
serve in society. Within the functionalist paradigm, plained that he had left women out. Linton was us-
we’d see that criminals serve as job security for the ing the linguistic conventions of his time; he im-
police. In a related observation, Emile Durkheim plicitly included women in all his references to
(1858 –1917) suggested that crimes and their pun- men. Or did he?
ishment provided an opportunity for the reafﬁrma- When feminists (of both genders) ﬁrst began
tion of a society’s values. By catching and punish- questioning the use of masculine nouns and pro-
ing a thief, we reafﬁrm our collective respect for nouns whenever gender was ambiguous, their
private property. concerns were often viewed as petty. Many felt
To get a sense of the structural-functional para- the issue was one of women having their feelings
digm, thumb through your college or university hurt, their egos bruised. But be honest: When you
catalog and assemble a list of the administrators read Linton’s words, what did you picture? An
(such as president, deans, registrar, campus secu- amorphous, genderless human being, a hermaph-
rity, maintenance personnel). Figure out what each rodite at once male and female, or a male persona?
of them does. To what extent do these roles re- In a similar way, researchers looking at the so-
late to the chief functions of your college or uni- cial world from a feminist paradigm have called
versity, such as teaching or research? Suppose attention to aspects of social life that are not re-
you were studying some other kind of organiza- vealed by other paradigms. In fact, feminism has
tion. How many of the school administrators’ func- established important theoretical paradigms for
tions would also be needed in, say, an insurance social research. In part it has focused on gender
company? differences and how they relate to the rest of so-
In applying the functionalist paradigm to every- cial organization. These paradigms have drawn at-
day life, people sometimes make the mistake of tention to the oppression of women in many soci-
thinking that functionality, stability, and integration eties, which has in turn shed light on oppression in
are necessarily good, or that the functionalist par- general.
adigm makes that assumption. However, when so- Feminist paradigms have also challenged the
cial researchers look for the “functions” served by prevailing notions concerning consensus in soci-
poverty, racial discrimination, or the oppression of ety. Most descriptions of the predominant beliefs,
women, they are not justifying such things. Rather, values, and norms of a society are written by
they seek to understand the roles such things play people representing only portions of society. In the
SOME SOCIAL SCIENCE PARADIGMS 33
United States, for example, such analyses have typ- • Constructed knowledge: The authors de-
ically been written by middle-class white men— scribe this perspective as “a position in
not surprisingly, they have written about the be- which women view all knowledge as con-
liefs, values, and norms they themselves share. textual, experience themselves as creators
Though George Herbert Mead spoke of the “gener- of knowledge, and value both subjective
alized other” that each of us becomes aware of and and objective strategies for knowing.”
can “take the role of,” feminist paradigms question — (BELENKY ET AL. 1986:15)
whether such a generalized other even exists.
“Constructed knowledge” is particularly interest-
Further, whereas Mead used the example of
ing in the context of our previous discussions. The
learning to play baseball to illustrate how we learn
positivistic paradigm of Comte would have a place
about the generalized other, Janet Lever’s research
neither for “subjective knowledge” nor for the
suggests that understanding the experience of
idea that truth might vary according to its context.
boys may tell us little about girls.
The ethnomethodological paradigm, on the other
Girls’ play and games are very different. They hand, would accommodate these ideas.
are mostly spontaneous, imaginative, and free To try out feminist paradigms, you might want
of structure or rules. Turn-taking activities like to look into the possibility of discrimination against
jump rope may be played without setting explicit women at your college or university. Are the top
goals. Girls have far less experience with inter- administrative positions held equally by men and
personal competition. The style of their competi- women? How about secretarial and clerical posi-
tion is indirect, rather than face to face, individ- tions? Are men’s and women’s sports supported
ual rather than team afﬁliated. Leadership roles equally? Read through the ofﬁcial history of your
are either missing or randomly ﬁlled. — (LEVER school; is it a history that includes men and women
1986:86) equally? (If you attend an all-male or all-female
Social researchers’ growing recognition of the school, of course, some of these questions won’t
intellectual differences between men and women apply.)
led the psychologist Mary Field Belenky and her
colleagues to speak of Women’s Ways of Knowing To explore this topic in greater depth on
(1986). In-depth interviews with 45 women led the Web, search for “feminist paradigm,”
the researchers to distinguish ﬁve perspectives on “feminist sociology,” “feminist theory,”
knowing that challenge the view of inquiry as ob- and don’t miss http://www.cddc.vt.edu /
vious and straightforward: feminism/
• Silence: Some women, especially early in life,
feel themselves isolated from the world of
Rational Objectivity Reconsidered
knowledge, their lives largely determined by
external authorities. We began with Comte’s assertion that we can
• Received knowledge: From this perspective, study society rationally and objectively. Since his
women feel themselves capable of taking time, the growth of science, the decline of supersti-
in and holding knowledge originating with tion, and the rise of bureaucratic structures have
external authorities. put rationality more and more at the center of so-
• Subjective knowledge: This perspective cial life. As fundamental as rationality is to most of
opens up the possibility of personal, sub- us, however, some contemporary scholars have
jective knowledge, including intuition. raised questions about it.
• Procedural knowledge: Some women feel For example, positivistic social scientists have
they have mastered the ways of gaining sometimes erred in assuming that humans will al-
knowledge through objective procedures. ways act rationally. I’m sure your own experience
34 CHAPTER 2 PARADIGMS, THEORY, AND RESEARCH
offers ample evidence to the contrary. Many mod-
ern economic models also assume that people will
make rational choices in the economic sector:
They will choose the highest-paying job, pay the
lowest price, and so forth. This assumption, how-
ever, ignores the power of such matters as tradi-
tion, loyalty, and image that compete with reason
in determining human behavior.
A more sophisticated positivism would assert
that we can rationally understand even nonra-
tional human behavior. Here’s an example. In the
X A B C
famous “Asch Experiment” (Asch 1958), a group of
FIGURE 2-1 The Asch Experiment
subjects is presented with a set of lines on a screen
and asked to identify the two lines of equal length.
Imagine yourself a subject in such an experi- More radically, we can question whether social
ment. You’re sitting in the front row of a classroom life abides by rational principles at all. In the phys-
in a group of six subjects. A set of lines (see Fig- ical sciences, developments such as chaos theory,
ure 2-1) is projected on the wall in front of you. The fuzzy logic, and complexity have suggested that we
experimenter asks you, one at a time, to identify may need to rethink fundamentally the orderliness
the line to the right (A, B, or C) that matches the of physical events.
length of line X. The correct answer (B) is pretty ob- The contemporary challenge to positivism,
vious to you. To your surprise, you ﬁnd that all the however, goes beyond the question of whether
other subjects agree on a different answer! people behave rationally. In part, the criticism of
The experimenter announces that all but one of positivism challenges the idea that scientists can
the group has gotten the correct answer; that is, be as objective as the scientiﬁc ideal assumes. Most
you’ve gotten it wrong. Then a new set of lines is scientists would agree that personal feelings can
presented, and you have the same experience. The and do inﬂuence the problems scientists choose to
obviously correct answer is wrong, and everyone study, their choice of what to observe, and the con-
but you seems to understand that. clusions they draw from their observations.
As it turns out, of course, you’re the only real As with rationality, there is a more radical cri-
subject in the experiment—all the others are work- tique of objectivity. Whereas scientiﬁc objectivity
ing with the experimenter. The purpose is to see has long stood as an unquestionable ideal, some
whether you would be swayed by public pressure contemporary researchers suggest that subjectivity
and go along with the incorrect answer. In one- might actually be preferred in some situations, as
third of the initial experiments, Asch found that his we glimpsed in the discussions of feminism and
subjects did just that. ethnomethodology. Let’s take a moment to return
Choosing an obviously wrong answer in a to the dialectic of subjectivity and objectivity.
simple experiment is an example of nonrational To begin with, all our experiences are ines-
behavior. But as Asch went on to show, experi- capably subjective. There is no way out. We can see
menters can examine the circumstances that lead only through our own eyes, and anything peculiar
more or fewer subjects to go along with the incor- to our eyes will shape what we see. We can hear
rect answer. For example, in subsequent studies, things only the way our particular ears and brain
Asch varied the size of one group and the number transmit and interpret sound waves. You and I, to
of “dissenters” who chose the “wrong” (that is, the some extent, hear and see different realities. And
correct) answer. Thus, it is possible to study nonra- both of us experience quite different physical “real-
tional behavior rationally and scientiﬁcally. ities” than do bats, for example. In what to us is to-
SOME SOCIAL SCIENCE PARADIGMS 35
tal darkness, a bat “sees” things such as ﬂying in- belief in a logically ordered, objective reality that
sects by emitting a sound we humans can’t hear. we can come to know. This is the view challenged
The reﬂection of the bat’s sound creates a “sound today by postmodernists and others.
picture” precise enough for the bat to home in on Some say that the ideal of objectivity conceals
the moving insect and snatch it up. In a similar as much as it reveals. As we saw earlier, much of
vein, scientists on the planet Xandu might develop what was regarded as scientiﬁc objectivity in years
theories of the physical world based on a sensory past was actually an agreement primarily among
apparatus that we humans can’t even imagine. white, middle-class, European men. Experiences
Maybe they see X rays or hear colors. common to women, to ethnic minorities, or to the
Despite the inescapable subjectivity of our ex- poor, for example, were not necessarily repre-
perience, we humans seem to be wired to seek an sented in that reality.
agreement on what is “really real,” what is objec- The early anthropologists are now criticized
tively so. Objectivity is a conceptual attempt to get for often making modern, Westernized “sense” out
beyond our individual views. It is ultimately a mat- of the beliefs and practices of nonliterate tribes
ter of communication, as you and I attempt to ﬁnd around the world—sometimes portraying their
a common ground in our subjective experiences. subjects as superstitious savages. We often call
Whenever we succeed in our search, we say we are orally transmitted beliefs about the distant past
dealing with objective reality. This is the agreement “creation myth,” whereas we speak of our own be-
reality discussed in Chapter 1. liefs as “history.” Increasingly today, there is a de-
While our subjectivity is individual, our search mand to ﬁnd the native logic by which various peo-
for objectivity is social. This is true in all aspects of ples make sense out of life.
life, not just in science. While you and I prefer dif- Ultimately, we’ll never know whether there is an
ferent foods, we must agree to some extent on objective reality that we experience subjectively or
what is ﬁt to eat and what is not, or else there could whether our concepts of an objective reality are il-
be no restaurants, no grocery stores, no food in- lusory. So desperate is our need to know just what
dustry. The same argument could be made regard- is going on, however, that both the positivists and
ing every other form of consumption. There could the postmodernists are sometimes drawn into the
be no movies or television, no sports. belief that their view is real and true. There is a dual
Social scientists as well have found beneﬁts irony in this. On the one hand, the positivist’s belief
in the concept of objective reality. As people seek in the reality of the objective world must ultimately
to impose order on their experience of life, they be based on faith; it cannot be proven by “objec-
ﬁnd it useful to pursue this goal as a collective ven- tive” science, since that’s precisely what’s at issue.
ture. What are the causes and cures of prejudice? And the postmodernists, who say nothing is objec-
Working together, social researchers have uncov- tively so, do at least feel the absence of objective
ered some answers that hold up to intersubjective reality is really the way things are.
scrutiny. Whatever your subjective experience of For social researchers, each approach brings
things, for example, you can discover for yourself special strengths, and each compensates for the
that as education increases, prejudice tends to de- weaknesses of the other. It’s often most useful to
crease. Because each of us can discover this inde- “work both sides of the street,” tapping into the rich
pendently, we say it is objectively true. variety of theoretical perspectives that can be
From the seventeenth century through the brought to bear on the study of human social life.
middle of the twentieth, the belief in an objective The attempt to establish formal theories of so-
reality that people could see ever more clearly pre- ciety has been closely associated with the belief in
dominated in science. For the most part, it was a discoverable, objective reality. Even so, we’ll see
held not simply as a useful paradigm but as The next that the issues involved in theory construction
Truth. The term positivism generally represents the are of interest and use to all social researchers,
36 CHAPTER 2 PARADIGMS, THEORY, AND RESEARCH
from the positivists to the postmodernists—and all this topic, each of which allows for different ways
those in between. of measuring our variables.
For simplicity, let’s assume we’re planning to
conduct a survey of high school students. We might
TWO LOGICAL SYSTEMS REVISITED operationalize delinquency in the form of the ques-
tion: “Have you ever stolen anything? ” Those who
In Chapter 1, I introduced deductive and inductive answer “yes” will be classiﬁed as delinquents in
theory, with a promise that we would return to our study; those who say “no” will be classiﬁed as
them later. It’s later. nondelinquents. Similarly, we might operationalize
family income by asking respondents, “What was
your family’s income last year?” and providing
The Traditional Model of Science them with a set of family income categories: under
$10,000; $10,000 –$24,999; $25,000 –$49,999; and
Years of learning about “the scientiﬁc method,” es-
$50,000 and above.
pecially in the physical sciences, tends to create in
At this point someone might object that “delin-
students’ minds a particular picture of how science
quency” can mean something more or different
operates. Although this traditional model of sci-
from having stolen something at one time or an-
ence tells only a part of the story, it’s helpful to un-
other, or that social class isn’t necessarily exactly
derstand its logic.
the same as family income. Some parents might
There are three main elements in the traditional
think body piercing is a sign of delinquency even if
model of science, typically presented in the order in
their children don’t steal, and to some “social class”
which they are implemented: theory, operational-
might include an element of prestige or community
ization, and observation. Let’s look at each in turn.
standing as well as how much money a family has.
For the researcher testing a hypothesis, however,
Theory At this point we’re already well ac- the meaning of variables is exactly and only what
quainted with the idea of theory. According to the the operational deﬁnition speciﬁes.
traditional model of science, scientists begin with In this respect, scientists are very much like
a theory, from which they derive hypotheses that Humpty Dumpty in Lewis Carroll’s Through the
they can test. So, for example, as social scientists Looking Glass. “When I use a word,” Humpty
we might have a theory about the causes of juve- Dumpty tells Alice, “it means just what I choose it
nile delinquency. Let’s assume that we have arrived to mean—neither more nor less.”
at the hypothesis that delinquency is inversely re- “The question is,” Alice replies, “whether you
lated to social class. That is, as social class goes up, can make words mean so many different things. ”
delinquency goes down. To which Humpty Dumpty responds, “The question
is, which is to be master—that’s all.”
Operationalization To test any hypothesis, we Scientists have to be “masters” of their opera-
must specify the meanings of all the variables tional deﬁnitions for the sake of precision in obser-
involved in it: social class and delinquency in the vation, measurement, and communication. Other-
present case. For example, delinquency might be wise, we would never know whether a study that
speciﬁed as “being arrested for a crime,” or “being contradicted ours did so only because it used a dif-
convicted of a crime,” and so forth. Social class ferent set of procedures to measure one of the vari-
might be speciﬁed as family income for this partic- ables and thus changed the meaning of the hy-
ular study. pothesis being tested. Of course, this also means
Next, we need to specify how we’ll measure the that to evaluate a study’s conclusions about juve-
variables we have deﬁned. Operationalization nile delinquency and social class, or any other vari-
literally means the operations involved in measur- ables, we need to know how those variables were
ing a variable. There are many ways we can pursue operationalized.
TWO LOGICAL SYSTEMS REVISITED 37
The way we have operationalized the variables
in our imaginary study could be open to other
problems, however. Perhaps some respondents
will lie about having stolen anything, in which
cases we’ll misclassify them as nondelinquent.
``What causes X ? ''
Some respondents will not know their family in-
comes and will give mistaken answers; others may
be embarrassed and lie. We’ll consider such issues
in detail in Part 2.
Our operationalized hypothesis now is that the
highest incidence of delinquents will be found THEORETICAL UNDERSTANDING
among respondents who select the lowest family
income category (under $10,000); a lower percent- X causes Y
age of delinquents will be found in the $10,000 –
$24,999 category; still fewer delinquents will be HYPOTHESIS
found in the $25,000 –$49,999 category; and the
lowest percentage of delinquents will be found in X = f (Y ) Theoretical expectation
the $50,000 and above category. Operationalization
x = f (y ) Testable hypothesis
Observation The ﬁnal step in the traditional
model of science involves actual observation,
looking at the world and making measurements of ?
x = f (y ) Observation
what is seen. Having developed theoretical clarity (hypothesis testing)
and expectations and having created a strategy for
looking, all that remains is to look at the way things
actually appear. FIGURE 2-2 The Traditional Image of Science
Let’s suppose our survey produced the follow-
These ﬁndings would disconﬁrm our hypothesis
Percentage regarding family income and delinquency. Discon-
ﬁrmability is an essential quality in any hypothesis.
Under $10,000 20 In other words, if there is no chance that our hy-
$10,000 –$24,999 15 pothesis will be disconﬁrmed, it hasn’t said any-
$25,000 –$49,999 10 thing meaningful.
$50,000 and above 25 For example, the hypothesis that “juvenile
delinquents” commit more crimes than do “non-
delinquents” do cannot possibly be disconﬁrmed,
Observations producing such data would conﬁrm because criminal behavior is intrinsic to the no-
our hypothesis. But suppose our ﬁndings were as tion of delinquency. Even if we recognize that
follows: some young people commit crimes without being
caught and labeled as delinquents, they couldn’t
delinquent threaten our hypothesis, since our observations
would lead us to conclude they were law-abiding
Under $10,000 15
$10,000 –$24,999 15
Figure 2-2 provides a schematic diagram of
$25,000 –$49,999 15
the traditional model of scientiﬁc inquiry. In it we
$50,000 and above 15
see the researcher beginning with an interest in
38 CHAPTER 2 PARADIGMS, THEORY, AND RESEARCH
something or an idea about it. Next comes the de- Logicians distinguish between inductive reason-
velopment of a theoretical understanding. The the- ing (from particular instances to general prin-
oretical considerations result in a hypothesis, or an ciples, from facts to theories) and deductive
expectation about the way things ought to be in the reasoning (from the general to the particular,
world if the theoretical expectations are correct. applying a theory to a particular case). In induc-
The notation Y f(X) is a conventional way of say- tion one starts from observed data and develops
ing that Y (for example, delinquency) is a function a generalization which explains the relation-
of (is in some way caused by) X (for example, pov- ships between the objects observed. On the
erty). At that level, however, X and Y have general other hand, in deductive reasoning one starts
rather than speciﬁc meanings. from some general law and applies it to a partic-
In the operationalization process, general con- ular instance. — (BEVERIDGE 1950:113)
cepts are translated into speciﬁc indicators and
procedures. The lowercase x, for example, is a con- The classical illustration of deductive logic is the
crete indicator of capital X. Thus, while X is theo- familiar syllogism “All men are mortal; Socrates is
retical, x is something we could actually observe. If a man; therefore Socrates is mortal.” This syllo-
X stands for “poverty” in general, x might stand for gism presents a theory and its operationalization.
“family income.” If Y is the theoretical variable “ju- To prove it, you might then perform an empirical
venile delinquency,” this could be measured as test of Socrates’ mortality. That is essentially the
“self-reported crimes” on a survey. approach discussed as the traditional model.
This operationalization process results in the Using inductive logic, you might begin by noting
formation of a testable hypothesis: for example, in- that Socrates is mortal and by observing several
creasing family income reduces self-reported theft. other men as well. You might then note that all the
Observations aimed at ﬁnding out whether this is observed men were mortals, thereby arriving at
true are part of what is typically called hypothesis the tentative conclusion that all men are mortal.
testing. (See the box “Hints for Stating Hypotheses” Let’s consider an actual research project as a
for more on this.) vehicle for comparing the roles of deductive and
inductive logic in theory and research.
The SPSS and MicroCase ﬁles on the disk
available with this book allow you to skim
A Case Illustration Years ago, Charles Glock,
data sets to learn the kinds of variables Benjamin Ringer, and I (1967) set out to discover
that might be operationalized in social what caused differing levels of church involvement
research. Chapter 14, on quantitative among U.S. Episcopalians. Several theoretical or
analysis, will provide in-depth instruction quasi-theoretical positions suggested possible an-
on how to do this.* swers. I’ll focus on only one here—what we came
to call the “Comfort Hypothesis.”
In part, we took our lead from the Christian in-
Deduction and Induction Compared junction to care for “the halt, the lame, and the
blind” and those who are “weary and heavy laden.”
The traditional model of science uses deductive
At the same time, ironically, we noted the Marxist
logic (see Chapter 1). In this section, we’re going
assertion that religion is an “opiate for the masses.”
to see how deductive logic ﬁts into social scien-
Given both, it made sense to expect the following,
tiﬁc research and contrast it with inductive logic.
which was our hypothesis: “Parishioners whose
W. I. B. Beveridge, a philosopher of science, de-
life situations most deprive them of satisfaction
scribes these two systems of logic as follows:
and fulﬁllment in the secular society turn to the
church for comfort and substitute rewards” (Glock
et al. 1967:107– 8).
*Each time the SPSS and MicroCase icons appear, they in-
dicate that the topic under discussion could be pursued Having framed this general hypothesis, we set
through the use of these software programs. about testing it. Were those deprived of satisfaction
TWO LOGICAL SYSTEMS REVISITED 39
in the secular society in fact more religious than and those married with children—representing the
those who got more satisfaction from the secular ideal pictured on all those posters—should be least
society? To answer this, we needed to distinguish religious of all. That’s exactly what we found!
who was deprived. Our questionnaire included Finally, the Comfort Hypothesis suggested that
items that intended to indicate whether parish- the various kinds of secular deprivation should be
ioners were relatively deprived or gratiﬁed in secu- cumulative: Those with all the characteristics as-
lar society. sociated with deprivation should be the most reli-
To start, we reasoned that men enjoyed more gious; those with none should be the least. When
status than do women in our generally male-dom- we combined the four individual measures of dep-
inated society. It followed that, if our hypothesis rivation into a composite measure (see Chapter 6
were correct, women should appear more reli- for methods of doing this), the theoretical expecta-
gious than men. Once the survey data had been tion was exactly conﬁrmed. Comparing the two ex-
collected and analyzed, our expectation about tremes, we found that single, childless, old, lower-
gender and religion was clearly conﬁrmed. On class female parishioners scored more than three
three separate measures of religious involve- times as high on the measure of church involve-
ment—ritual (for example, church attendance), or- ment than did young, married, upper-class fathers.
ganizational (for example, belonging to church or- This research example clearly illustrates the
ganizations), and intellectual (for example, reading logic of the deductive model. Beginning with gen-
church publications)—women were more religious eral, theoretical expectations about the impact of
than men. On our overall measure, women scored social deprivation on church involvement, we de-
50 percent higher than men. rived concrete hypotheses linking speciﬁc mea-
In another test of the Comfort Hypothesis, we surable variables, such as age and church atten-
reasoned that in a youth-oriented society, old dance. We then analyzed the actual empirical data
people would be more deprived of secular grati- to determine whether the deductive expectations
ﬁcation than the young would be. Once again, the were supported by empirical reality. Sounds good,
data conﬁrmed our expectation. The oldest parish- right?
ioners were more religious than were the middle- Alas, I’ve been ﬁbbing a little bit just now. To
aged, who were more religious than were the tell the truth, although we began with an interest
young adults. in discovering what caused variations in church
Social class—measured by education and in- involvement among Episcopalians, we didn’t ac-
come—afforded another test, which was success- tually begin with a Comfort Hypothesis, or any
ful. Those with low social status were more in- other hypothesis for that matter. (In the interest
volved in the church than were those with high of further honesty, Glock and Ringer initiated the
social status. study, and I joined it years after the data had been
The hypothesis was even conﬁrmed in a test collected.)
that went against everyone’s commonsense ex- A questionnaire was designed to collect infor-
pectations. Despite church posters showing wor- mation from parishioners that might shed some
shipful young families and bearing the slogan, “The light on why some participated in the church more
Family That Prays Together Stays Together,” the than others, but questionnaire construction was
Comfort Hypothesis suggested that parishioners not guided by any precise, deductive theory. Once
who were married and had children—the clear the data were collected, the task of explaining dif-
U.S. ideal at that time—would enjoy secular gratiﬁ- ferences in religiosity began with an analysis of
cation in that regard. As a consequence, they variables that have a wide impact on people’s lives,
should be less religious than those who lacked one including gender, age, social class, and family status.
or both family components. Thus, we hypothesized Each of these four variables was found to relate
that parishioners who were both single and child- strongly to church involvement in the ways already
less should be the most religious; those with either described. Rather than being good news, this pre-
spouse or child should be somewhat less religious; sented a dilemma.
40 CHAPTER 2 PARADIGMS, THEORY, AND RESEARCH
HINTS FOR STATING HYPOTHESES
by Riley E. Dunlap word a hypothesis that states a relationship be-
Department of Sociology, Washington State University tween the two variables (the one that ﬁlls in the
“blank” and “attitudes toward women’s libera-
A hypothesis is the basic statement that is tion”). You need to do so in a precise manner so
tested in research. Typically a hypothesis that you can determine clearly whether the hy-
states a relationship between two variables. (Al- pothesis is supported or not when you examine
though it is possible to use more than two vari- the results (in this case, most likely the results of
ables, you should stick to two for now. ) Because a survey).
a hypothesis makes a prediction about the rela- The key is to word the hypothesis carefully so
tionship between the two variables, it must be that the prediction it makes is quite clear to you
testable so you can determine if the prediction is as well as others. If you use age, note that saying
right or wrong when you examine the results “Age is related to attitudes toward women’s lib-
obtained in your study. A hypothesis must be eration” does not say precisely how you think the
stated in an unambiguous manner to be clearly two are related (in fact, the only way this hy-
testable. What follows are suggestions for devel- pothesis could be falsiﬁed is if you fail to ﬁnd a
oping testable hypotheses. statistically signiﬁcant relationship of any type
Assume you have an interest in trying to pre- between age and attitudes toward women’s lib-
dict some phenomenon such as “attitudes to- eration). In this case a couple of steps are neces-
ward women’s liberation,” and that you can sary. You have two options:
measure such attitudes on a continuum rang-
ing from “opposed to women’s liberation” to 1. ”Age is related to attitudes toward women’s
“neutral” to “supportive of women’s liberation.” liberation, with younger adults being more
Also assume that, lacking a theory, you’ll rely supportive than older adults.” (Or, you could
on “hunches” to come up with variables that state the opposite, if you believed older
might be related to attitudes toward women’s people are likely to be more supportive.)
liberation. 2. ”Age is negatively related to support for
In a sense, you can think of hypothesis con- women’s liberation. ” Note here that I specify
struction as a case of ﬁlling in the blank: “ “support” for women’s liberation (SWL) and
is related to attitudes toward women’s libera- then predict a negative relationship—that is,
tion.” Your job is to think of a variable that might as age goes up, I predict that SWL will go
plausibly be related to such attitudes, and then to down.
Glock recalls discussing his ﬁndings with col- to Church Involvement.”) Eventually we saw that
leagues over lunch at the Columbia faculty club. each of the four variables also reﬂected differential
Once he had displayed the tables illustrating the status in the secular society, and then we had the
impact of the variables and their cumulative effect, thought that perhaps the issue of comfort was in-
a colleague asked, “What does it all mean, Char- volved. Thus, the inductive process had moved
lie?” Glock was at a loss. Why were those variables from concrete observations to a general theoreti-
so strongly related to church involvement? cal explanation.
That question launched a process of reasoning
about what the several variables had in common, A Graphic Contrast As the preceding case illus-
aside from their impact on religiosity. (The com- tration shows, theory and research can usefully be
posite index was originally labeled “Predisposition done both inductively and deductively. Figure 2-3
TWO LOGICAL SYSTEMS REVISITED 41
In this hypothesis, note that both of the vari- makes the identical prediction. (Of course,
ables (age, the independent variable or likely you could also make the opposite prediction,
“cause,” and SWL, the dependent variable or that men are more supportive than women
likely “effect”) range from low to high. This fea- are, if you wished. )
ture of the two variables is what allows you to 4. Equally legitimate would be “Women are
use “negatively” (or “positively”) to describe the more likely to support women’s liberation
relationship. than are men. ” (Note the need for the second
Notice what happens if you hypothesize a “are,” or you could be construed as hypothe-
relationship between gender and SWL. Since sizing that women support women’s libera-
gender is a nominal variable (as you’ll learn in tion more than they support men—not quite
Chapter 5) it does not range from low to high the same idea. )
—people are either male or female (the two at-
tributes of the variable gender). Consequently, The above examples hypothesized relation-
you must be careful in stating the hypothesis ships between a “characteristic” (age or gender)
unambiguously: and an “orientation” (attitudes toward women’s
liberation). Because the causal order is pretty
1. ”Gender is positively (or negatively) related to clear (obviously age and gender come before at-
SWL” is not an adequate hypothesis, because titudes, and are less alterable), we could state
it doesn’t specify how you expect gender to be the hypotheses as I’ve done, and everyone
related to SWL—that is, whether you think would assume that we were stating causal hy-
men or women will be more supportive of potheses.
women’s liberation. Finally, you may run across references to the
2. It is tempting to say something like “Women null hypothesis, especially in statistics. Such a
are positively related to SWL,” but this really hypothesis predicts no relationship (technically,
doesn’t work because female is only an at- no statistically signiﬁcant relationship) between
tribute, not a full variable (gender is the vari- the two variables, and it is always implicit in test-
able). ing hypotheses. Basically, if you have hypothe-
3. ”Gender is related to SWL, with women being sized a positive (or negative) relationship, you
more supportive than men” would be my rec- are hoping that the results will allow you to re-
ommendation. Or, you could say, “with men ject the null hypothesis and verify your hypothe-
being less supportive than women,” which sized relationship.
shows a graphic comparison of the deductive and relationship between the number of hours spent
inductive methods. In both cases, we are interested studying and the grade earned on the exam. That
in the relationship between the number of hours is, we expect grades to increase as the hours of
spent studying for an exam and the grade earned studying increase. If increased hours produced de-
on that exam. Using the deductive method, we creased grades, we would call it a negative rela-
would begin by examining the matter logically. Do- tionship. The hypothesis is represented by the line
ing well on an exam reﬂects a student’s ability to in part 1(a) of Figure 2-3.
recall and manipulate information. Both of these Our next step would be to make observations
abilities should be increased by exposure to the in- relevant to testing our hypothesis. The shaded area
formation before the exam. In this fashion, we in part 1(b) of the ﬁgure represents perhaps hun-
would arrive at a hypothesis suggesting a positive dreds of observations of different students, noting
42 CHAPTER 2 PARADIGMS, THEORY, AND RESEARCH
suggests that with 1 to 15 hours of studying, each
APPLYING THE RESULTS additional hour generally produces a higher grade
on the exam. With 15 to about 25 hours, how-
ever, more study seems to slightly lower the
W hile many church leaders believe that
the function of the churches is to
shape members’ behavior in the community,
grade. Studying more than 25 hours, on the other
hand, results in a return to the initial pattern: More
hours produce higher grades. Using the inductive
the Glock study suggests that church in-
method, then, we end up with a tentative conclu-
volvement primarily reﬂects a need for com-
sion about the pattern of the relationship between
fort by those who are denied gratiﬁcation in
the two variables. The conclusion is tentative be-
the secular society. How might churches ap-
cause the observations we have made cannot be
ply these research results?
taken as a test of the pattern—those observations
On the one hand, churches might adjust
are the source of the pattern we’ve created.
their programs to the needs that were draw-
In actual practice, theory and research interact
ing their members to participation. They
through a never ending alternation of deduction
might study members’ needs for gratiﬁcation
and induction. Walter Wallace (1971) has repre-
and develop more programs to satisfy them.
sented this process as a circle, which is presented
On the other hand, churches could seek to
in a modiﬁed form in Figure 2-4.
remind members that the purpose of partic-
When Emile Durkheim ( 1951) pored
ipation is to learn and practice proper be-
through table after table of ofﬁcial statistics on
havior. Following that strategy would proba-
suicide rates in different areas, he was struck by
bly change participation patterns, attracting
the fact that Protestant countries consistently
new participants in the church while driving
had higher suicide rates than Catholic ones. Why
should that be the case? His initial observations
led him to create a theory of religion, social inte-
gration, anomie, and suicide. His theoretical ex-
how many hours they studied and what grades planations led to further hypotheses and further
they got. Finally, in part 1(c), we compare the hy- observations.
pothesis and the observations. Because observa- In summary, the scientiﬁc norm of logical rea-
tions in the real world seldom if ever match our ex- soning provides a two-way bridge between theory
pectations perfectly, we must decide whether the and research. Scientiﬁc inquiry in practice typi-
match is close enough to conﬁrm the hypothesis. cally involves an alternation between deduction
Put differently, can we conclude that the hypothe- and induction. During the deductive phase, we
sis describes the general pattern that exists, grant- reason toward observations; during the inductive
ing some variations in real life? phase, we reason from observations. Both deduc-
Now let’s address the same research question tion and induction are routes to the construction of
by using the inductive method. We would begin— social theories, and both logic and observation are
as in part 2(a) of the ﬁgure—with a set of observa- essential.
tions. Curious about the relationship between Although both inductive and deductive meth-
hours spent studying and grades earned, we might ods are valid in scientiﬁc inquiry, individuals may
simply arrange to collect some relevant data. Then feel more comfortable with one approach than
we’d look for a pattern that best represented or the other. Consider this exchange in Sir Arthur Co-
summarized our observations. In part 2(b) of the nan Doyle’s A Scandal in Bohemia, as Sherlock
ﬁgure, the pattern is shown as a curved line run- Holmes answers Dr. Watson’s inquiry (Doyle 
ning through the center of the curving mass of 1892:13):
The pattern found among the points in this case “What do you imagine that it means?”
1. Deductive Method 2. Inductive Method
(a) Hypothesis (a) Observations
0 10 20 30 40 0 10 20 30 40
Hours studying Hours studying
(b) Observations (b) Finding a pattern
0 10 20 30 40 0 10 20 30 40
Hours studying Hours studying
(c) Accept or reject hypothesis? (c) Tentative conclusion
0 10 20 30 40 0 10 20 30 40
Hours studying Hours studying
FIGURE 2-3 Deductive and Inductive Methods
FIGURE 2-4 The Wheel of Science
44 CHAPTER 2 PARADIGMS, THEORY, AND RESEARCH
“I have no data yet. It is a capital mistake to the- Throughout this process, introspection is help-
orise before one has data. Insensibly one begins ful. If you can look at your own personal pro-
to twist facts to suit theories, instead of theories cesses—including reactions, fears, and prejudices
to suit facts.” you aren’t especially proud of—you may be able to
gain important insights into human behavior in
Some social scientists would rally behind this
inductive position, while others would take a de-
ductive stance. Most, however, concede the legiti-
macy of both. With this understanding of the de- Constructing Your Theory
ductive and inductive links between theory and
Although theory construction is not a lockstep af-
research, let’s delve a little more deeply into how
fair, the following list of elements in theory con-
theories are constructed using these two different
struction should organize the activity for you.
1. Specify the topic.
2. Specify the range of phenomena your theory
DEDUCTIVE THEORY CONSTRUCTION addresses. Will your theory apply to all of
human social life, will it apply only to U.S.
To see what is involved in deductive theory con- citizens, only to young people, or what?
struction and hypothesis testing, let’s imagine that 3. Identify and specify your major concepts
you are going to construct a deductive theory. How and variables.
would you go about it? 4. Find out what is known (or what proposi-
tions have been demonstrated) about the
relationships among those variables.
Getting Started 5. Reason logically from those propositions to
the speciﬁc topic you are examining.
The ﬁrst step in deductive theory construction is to
pick a topic that interests you. It can be broad, such We’ve already discussed items (1) through (3),
as “What’s the structure of society? ” or narrower, so let’s focus now on (4) and (5). As you identify the
as in “Why do people support or oppose a woman’s relevant concepts and discover what has already
right to an abortion? ” Whatever the topic, it should been learned about them, you can begin to create
be something you’re interested in understanding a propositional structure that explains the topic
and explaining. under study. For the most part, social scientists
Once you’ve picked your topic, you then under- have not created formal, propositional theories.
take an inventory of what is known or thought Still, it is useful to look at a well-reasoned example.
about it. In part, this means writing down your own Let’s look now at an example of how these build-
observations and ideas about it. Beyond that, you ing blocks ﬁt together in actual deductive theory
need to learn what other scholars have said about construction and empirical research.
it. You can do this by talking to other people and by
reading what others have written about it. Appen-
An Example of Deductive Theory:
dix A provides guidelines for using the library—
you’ll probably spend a lot of time there.
Your preliminary research will probably un- A topic of central interest to scholars using the ex-
cover consistent patterns discovered by prior change paradigm (discussed earlier) is that of dis-
scholars. For example, religious and political vari- tributive justice, people’s perception of whether
ables will stand out as important determinants of they’re being treated fairly by life, whether they’re
attitudes about abortion. Findings such as these getting “their share.” Guillermina Jasso describes
will be quite useful to you in creating your own the theory of distributive justice more formally, as
DEDUCTIVE THEORY CONSTRUCTION 45
The theory provides a mathematical description whereas others are less tangible (such as respect).
of the process whereby individuals, reﬂecting on The former kind, she says, will be measured con-
their holdings of the goods they value (such as ventionally, whereas the latter will be measured
beauty, intelligence, or wealth), compare them- “by the individual’s relative rank . . . within a spe-
selves to others, experiencing a fundamental in- cially selected comparison group.” The theory will
stantaneous magnitude of the justice evaluation provide a formula for making that measurement
( J), which captures their sense of being fairly or ( Jasso 1988:13).
unfairly treated in the distributions of natural Jasso continues in this fashion to introduce ad-
and social goods. — ( JASSO 1988:11) ditional elements, weaving them into mathemati-
cal formulas for deriving predictions about the
Notice that Jasso has assigned a letter to her key
workings of distributive justice in a variety of social
variable: J will stand for distributive justice. She
settings. Here is a sampling of where her theoriz-
does this to support her intention of stating her the-
ing takes her (1988:14 –15).
ory in mathematical formulas. Though theories are
often expressed mathematically, we’ll not delve • Other things [being] the same, a person will
too deeply into that practice here. prefer to steal from a fellow group member
Jasso indicates that there are three kinds of pos- rather than from an outsider.
tulates in her theory. “The ﬁrst makes explicit the • The preference to steal from a fellow group
fundamental axiom which represents the substan- member is more pronounced in poor groups
tive point of departure for the theory.” She elabo- than in rich groups.
rates as follows: • In the case of theft, informants arise only in
cross-group theft, in which case they are
The theory begins with the received Axiom of members of the thief’s group.
Comparison, which formalizes the long-held • Persons who arrive a week late at summer
view that a wide class of phenomena, including camp or for freshman year of college are
happiness, self-esteem, and the sense of distrib- more likely to become friends of persons
utive justice, may be understood as the product who play games of chance than of persons
of a comparison process. — ( JASSO 1988:11) who play games of skill.
• A society becomes more vulnerable to
Thus, our sense of whether we are receiving a
deﬁcit spending as its wealth increases.
“fair” share of the good things of life comes from
• Societies in which population growth is wel-
comparing ourselves with others. If this seems ob-
comed must be societies in which the set of
vious to you, that’s good. Remember, axioms are
valued goods includes at least one quantity-
the taken-for-granted beginnings of theory.
good, such as wealth.
Jasso continues to do the groundwork for her
theory. First, she indicates that our sense of distrib- Jasso’s theory leads to many other propositions,
utive justice is a function of “Actual Holding (A)” but this sampling should provide a good sense of
and “Comparison Holdings (C)” of some good. Let’s where deductive theorizing can take you. To get a
consider money. My sense of justice in this regard feeling for how she reasons her way to these
is a function of how much I actually have, com- propositions, let’s look brieﬂy at the logic involved
pared with how much others have. By specifying in two of the propositions that relate to theft within
the two components of the comparison, Jasso can and outside one’s group.
use them as variables in her theory.
• Other things [being] the same, a person will
Jasso then offers a “measurement rule” that fur-
prefer to steal from a fellow group member
ther speciﬁes how the two variables, A and C, will
rather than from an outsider.
be conceptualized. This step is needed because
some of the goods to be examined are concrete Beginning with the assumption that thieves
and commonly measured (such as money), want to maximize their relative wealth, ask your-
46 CHAPTER 2 PARADIGMS, THEORY, AND RESEARCH
self whether that goal would be best served by How about other members of the other group?
stealing from those you compare yourself with or Each of them would actually proﬁt from the theft,
from outsiders. In each case, stealing will increase since you would have reduced the total with which
your Actual Holdings, but what about your Com- they compare themselves. Hence, the theory of dis-
parison Holdings? tributive justice predicts that informants arise from
A moment’s thought should suggest that steal- the thief’s comparison group.
ing from people in your comparison group will This brief and selective peek into Jasso’s deriva-
lower their holdings, further increasing your rela- tions should give you some sense of the enterprise
tive wealth. To simplify, imagine there are only two of deductive theory. Realize, of course, that the the-
people in your comparison group: you and I. Sup- ory guarantees none of the given predictions. The
pose we each have $100. If you steal $50 from role of research is to test each of them empirically
someone outside our group, you will have in- to determine whether what makes sense (logic)
creased your relative wealth by 50 percent com- occurs in practice (observation).
pared with me: $150 versus $100. But if you steal There are two important elements in science,
$50 from me, you will have increased your relative then: logical integrity and empirical veriﬁcation.
wealth 200 percent: $150 to my $50. Your goal is Both are essential to scientiﬁc inquiry and discov-
best served by stealing from within the comparison ery. Logic alone is not enough, but on the other
group. hand, the mere observation and collection of em-
pirical facts does not provide understanding—the
• In the case of theft, informants arise only in
telephone directory, for example, is not a scientiﬁc
cross-group theft, in which case they are mem-
conclusion. Observation, however, can be the
bers of the thief’s group.
springboard for the construction of a social sci-
Can you see why it would make sense for in- entiﬁc theory, as we shall now see in the case of in-
formants (1) to arise only in the case of cross-group ductive theory.
theft and (2) to come from the thief’s comparison
group? This proposition again depends on the fun-
damental assumption that everyone wants to in- INDUCTIVE THEORY CONSTRUCTION
crease his or her relative standing. Suppose you
and I are in the same comparison group, but this Quite often, social scientists begin constructing a
time the group contains additional people. If you theory through the inductive method by ﬁrst ob-
steal from someone else within our comparison serving aspects of social life and then seeking to
group, my relative standing in the group does not discover patterns that may point to relatively uni-
change. Although your wealth has increased, the versal principles. Barney Glaser and Anselm
average wealth in the group remains the same (be- Strauss (1967) coined the term grounded theory in
cause someone else’s wealth has decreased by the reference to this method.
same amount). So my relative standing remains Field research—the direct observation of events
the same. I have no incentive to inform on you. in progress—is frequently used to develop theories
If you steal from someone outside our compar- through observation (see Chapter 10). A long and
ison group, your nefarious income increases the rich anthropological tradition has seen this method
total wealth in our group, so my own wealth rela- used to good advantage.
tive to that total is diminished. Since my relative Among contemporary social scientists, no one
wealth has suffered, I’m more likely to bring an end was more adept at seeing the patterns of human
to your stealing. behavior through observation than Erving Goff-
This last deduction also begins to explain why man (1974:5):
informants are more likely to arrive from within
the thief’s comparison group. We’ve just seen how A game such as chess generates a habitable
my relative standing was decreased by your theft. universe for those who can follow it, a plane of
INDUCTIVE THEORY CONSTRUCTION 47
being, a cast of characters with a seemingly un- David Takeuchi’s (1974) analysis of the data
limited number of different situations and acts gathered from University of Hawaii students, how-
through which to realize their natures and des- ever, did not support any of the explanations being
tinies. Yet much of this is reducible to a small set offered. Those who reported smoking marijuana
of interdependent rules and practices. If the had essentially the same academic records as
meaningfulness of everyday activity is similarly those who didn’t smoke it, and both groups were
dependent on a closed, ﬁnite set of rules, then equally involved in traditional “school spirit” activ-
explication of them would give one a powerful ities. Both groups seemed to feel equally well inte-
means of analyzing social life. grated into campus life.
In a variety of research efforts, Goffman uncov- There were differences, however:
ered the rules of such diverse behaviors as living 1. Women were less likely than men to smoke
in a mental institution (1961) and managing the marijuana.
“spoiled identity” of disﬁguration (1963). In each 2. Asian students (a large proportion of the
case, Goffman observed the phenomenon in depth student body) were less likely than non-
and teased out the rules governing behavior. Goff- Asians to smoke marijuana.
man’s research provides an excellent example of 3. Students living at home were less likely
qualitative ﬁeld research as a source of grounded than those living in apartments to smoke
Our earlier discussion of the Comfort Hypothe-
sis and church involvement shows that qualitative As in the case of religiosity, the three variables
ﬁeld research is not the only method of observation independently affected the likelihood of a student’s
appropriate to the development of inductive the- smoking marijuana. About 10 percent of the Asian
ory. Here’s another detailed example to illustrate women living at home had smoked marijuana, as
further the construction of inductive theory using contrasted with about 80 percent of the non-Asian
quantitative methods. men living in apartments. And, as in the religiosity
study, the researchers discovered a powerful pat-
tern of drug use before they had an explanation for
An Example of Inductive Theory:
Why Do People Smoke Marijuana?
In this instance, the explanation took a peculiar
During the 1960s and 1970s, marijuana use on turn. Instead of explaining why some students
U.S. college campuses was a subject of consider- smoked marijuana, the researchers explained why
able discussion in the popular press. Some people some didn’t. Assuming that all students had some
were troubled by marijuana’s popularity; others motivation for trying drugs, the researchers sug-
welcomed it. What interests us here is why some gested that students differed in the degree of “so-
students smoked marijuana and others didn’t. A cial constraints” preventing them from following
survey of students at the University of Hawaii through on that motivation.
(Takeuchi 1974) provided the data to answer that U.S. society is, on the whole, more permissive
question. with men than with women when it comes to de-
At the time of the study, countless explanations viant behavior. Consider, for example, a group of
were being offered for drug use. People who op- men getting drunk and boisterous. We tend to dis-
posed drug use, for example, often suggested that miss such behavior with references to “cama-
marijuana smokers were academic failures trying raderie” and “having a good time,” whereas a
to avoid the rigors of college life. Those in favor of group of women behaving similarly would proba-
marijuana, on the other hand, often spoke of the bly be regarded with great disapproval. We have an
search for new values: Marijuana smokers, they idiom, “Boys will be boys,” but no comparable id-
said, were people who had seen through the hy- iom for girls. The researchers reasoned, therefore,
pocrisy of middle-class values. that women would have more to lose by smoking
48 CHAPTER 2 PARADIGMS, THEORY, AND RESEARCH
marijuana than men would. Being female, then, uation, such as an anthropological account of food
provided a constraint against smoking marijuana. and dress in a particular society.
Students living at home had obvious con- As you read social research reports, however,
straints against smoking marijuana, compared you will very often ﬁnd that the authors are con-
with students living on their own. Quite aside from scious of the implications of their research for so-
differences in opportunity, those living at home cial theories and vice versa. Here are a few ex-
were seen as being more dependent on their par- amples to illustrate this point.
ents—hence more vulnerable to additional pun- When W. Lawrence Neuman (1998) set out to
ishment for breaking the law. examine the problem of monopolies (the “trust
Finally, the Asian subculture in Hawaii has tra- problem”) in U.S. history, he saw the relevance of
ditionally placed a higher premium on obedience theories about how social movements transform
to the law than have other subcultures, so Asian society (“state transformation”). He became con-
students would have more to lose if they were vinced, however, that existing theories were inad-
caught violating the law by smoking marijuana. equate for the task before him:
Overall, then, a “social constraints” theory was
offered as the explanation for observed differences State transformation theory links social move-
in the likelihood of smoking marijuana. The more ments to state policy formation processes by
constraints a student had, the less likely he or she focussing on the role of cultural meaning in or-
would be to smoke marijuana. It bears repeating ganized political struggles. Despite a resem-
that the researchers had no thoughts about such a blance among concepts and concerns, construc-
theory when their research began. The theory tionist ideas found in the social problems, social
came from an examination of the data. movements, and symbolic politics literatures
have not been incorporated into the theory. In
this paper, I draw on these three literatures
THE LINKS BETWEEN THEORY to enhance state transformation theory.
AND RESEARCH — (NEUMAN 1998:315)
Having thus modiﬁed state transformation the-
Throughout this chapter, we have seen various as- ory, Neuman had a theoretical tool that could guide
pects of the links between theory and research in his inquiry and analysis into the political maneu-
social scientiﬁc inquiry. In the deductive model, re- verings related to monopolies beginning in the
search is used to test theories. In the inductive 1880s and continuing until World War I. Thus, the-
model, theories are developed from the analysis of ory served as a resource for research and at the
research data. This section looks more closely into same time was modiﬁed by it.
the ways theory and research are related in actual In a somewhat similar study, Alemseghed Ke-
social scientiﬁc inquiry. bede and J. David Knottnerus (1998) set out to in-
Whereas we have discussed two idealized logi- vestigate the rise of Rastafarianism in the Carib-
cal models for linking theory and research, social bean. However, they felt that recent theories on
scientiﬁc inquiries have developed a great many social movements had become too positivistic in
variations on these themes. Sometimes theoretical focusing on the mobilization of resources. Re-
issues are introduced merely as a background for source mobilization theory, they felt, downplays
empirical analyses. Other studies cite selected em-
pirical data to bolster theoretical arguments. In the motivation, perceptions, and behavior of
neither case is there really an interaction between movement participants . . . and concentrates in-
theory and research for the purpose of developing stead on the whys and hows of mobilization.
new explanations. Some studies make no use of Typically theoretical and research problems in-
theory at all, aiming speciﬁcally, for example, at an clude: How do emerging movement organiza-
ethnographic description of a particular social sit- tions seek to mobilize and routinize the ﬂow of
THE IMPORTANCE OF THEORY IN THE “REAL WORLD” 49
resources and how does the existing political
apparatus affect the organization of resources? A QUANDARY REVISITED
To study Rastifarianism more appropriately, the
researchers felt the need to include several con- A s we’ve seen, many different paradigms
have been suggested for the study of so-
ciety. The Opening Quandary asked which
cepts from contemporary social psychology. In par-
ticular, they sought models to use in dealing with was true. It should have become apparent in
problems of meaning and collective thought. this chapter that the answer is “None of the
Frederika E. Schmitt and Patricia Yancey Martin above.” However, none of the paradigms is
(1999) were particularly interested in discovering false, either.
what produced successful rape crisis centers and By their nature, paradigms are neither
how such centers dealt with the organizational true or false. They are merely different ways
and political environments within which they op- of looking and seeking explanations. Thus,
erated. The researchers found theoretical con- they may be judged as useful or not useful in
structs appropriate to their inquiry: a particular situation but not true or false.
Imagine that you and some friends are in a
This case study of unobtrusive mobilizing by totally darkened room. Each of you has a
[the] Southern California Rape Crisis Center uses ﬂashlight. When you yourself turn on your
archival, observational, and interview data to ﬂashlight, you create a partial picture of
explore how a feminist organization worked to what’s in the room, whereby some things
change police, schools, prosecutor[s], and some are revealed, but others remain concealed.
state and national organizations from 1974 to Now imagine your friends taking turns turn-
1994. Mansbridge’s concept of street theory and ing on their ﬂashlights. Every person’s ﬂash-
Katzenstein’s concepts of unobtrusive mobiliza- light presents a different picture of what’s in
tion and discursive politics guide the analysis. the room, both revealing and concealing.
— (1999:364) Paradigms are like the ﬂashlights in this grip-
ping tale. Each offers a particular point of
In summary, there is no simple recipe for con-
view that may or may not be useful in a given
ducting social science research. It is far more
circumstance. None reveals the full picture,
open-ended than the traditional view of science
or the “truth.”
suggests. Ultimately, science depends on two cate-
gories of activity: logic and observation. As you’ll
see throughout this book, they can be ﬁt together in
In some minds, theoretical and practical matters
are virtual opposites. Social scientists committed
to the use of science know differently, however.
THE IMPORTANCE OF THEORY Lester Ward, the ﬁrst president of the Ameri-
IN THE “REAL WORLD” can Sociological Association, was committed to
the application of social research in practice, or the
use of that research toward speciﬁc ends. Ward
At this point you may be saying, “Sure, theory and
(1906:5) distinguished pure and applied sociology
research are OK, but what do they have to do with
the real world?” As we’ll see later in this book,
there are many practical applications of social re- Just as pure sociology aims to answer the ques-
search, from psychology to social reform. Think, tions What, Why, and How, so applied sociology
for instance, how someone could make use of aims to answer the question What for. The for-
David Takeuchi’s research on marijuana use. mer deals with facts, causes, and principles, the
But how does theory work in such applications? latter with the object, end, or purpose.
50 CHAPTER 2 PARADIGMS, THEORY, AND RESEARCH
No matter how practical and/or idealistic your By the same token, poverty provides many job
aims, a theoretical understanding of the terrain opportunities for social workers, unemployment
may spell the difference between success and fail- ofﬁce workers, police, and so forth. If poverty were
ure. As Ward saw it, “Reform may be deﬁned as to disappear, what would happen to social work
the desirable alteration of social structures. Any at- colleges, for example?
tempt to do this must be based on a full knowledge I don’t mean to suggest a conspiracy of people
of the nature of such structures, otherwise its fail- intent on keeping the poor in their place or that
ure is certain” (1906:4). social workers secretly hope for poverty to per-
Suppose you were concerned about poverty in sist. Nor do I want to suggest that the dark cloud
the United States. The sociologist Herbert Gans of poverty has a silver lining. I merely want you to
(1971) suggests it is vital to understand the func- understand the point made by Ward, Gans, and
tions that poverty serves for people who are not many other sociologists: If you want to change
poor. For example, the persistence of poverty society, you need to understand how it operates.
means there will always be people willing to do the As William White (1997) argued, “Theory helps
jobs no one else wants to do—and they’ll work for create questions, shapes our research designs,
very little money. The availability of cheap labor helps us anticipate outcomes, helps us design
provides a great many affordable comforts for the interventions.”
Main Points of living it, as though each were a researcher
engaged in an inquiry.
❑ A paradigm is a fundamental model or scheme ❑ The structural functionalist (or social systems)
that organizes our view of something. paradigm seeks to discover what functions the
❑ Social scientists use a variety of paradigms to many elements of society perform for the
organize how they understand and inquire into whole system—for example, the functions of
social life. mothers, labor unions, and radio talk shows.
❑ A distinction between types of theories that ❑ Feminist paradigms, in addition to drawing at-
cuts across various paradigms is macrotheory tention to the oppression of women in most
(theories about large-scale features of society) societies, highlight how previous images of so-
versus microtheory (theories about smaller cial reality have often come from and rein-
units or features of society). forced the experiences of men.
❑ The positivistic paradigm assumes we can sci- ❑ Some contemporary theorists and researchers
entiﬁcally discover the rules governing social have challenged the long-standing belief in an
life. objective reality that abides by rational rules.
❑ The conﬂict paradigm focuses on the attempt They point out that it is possible to agree on an
of one person or group to dominate others and “intersubjective” reality.
to avoid being dominated. ❑ In the traditional image of science, scientists
❑ The symbolic interactionist paradigm exam- proceed from theory to operationalization to
ines how shared meanings and social patterns observation. But this image is not an accurate
are developed in the course of social inter- picture of how scientiﬁc research is actually
❑ Ethnomethodology focuses on the ways ❑ Social scientiﬁc theory and research are linked
people make sense out of life in the process through two logical methods: Deduction
ADDITIONAL READINGS 51
involves the derivation of expectations or hy- 3. What, in your own words, is the difference be-
potheses from theories. Induction involves the tween a paradigm and a theory?
development of generalizations from speciﬁc 4. You have been hired to evaluate how well a
observations. particular health maintenance organization
❑ Science is a process involving an alternation of (HMO) serves the needs of its clients. How
deduction and induction. might you implement this study using each of
❑ Guillermina Jasso’s theory of distributive jus- the following: (1) the interactionist paradigm,
tice illustrates how formal reasoning can lead (2) the social systems or functionalist para-
to a variety of theoretical expectations that can digm, (3) the conﬂict paradigm?
be tested by observation.
❑ David Takeuchi’s study of factors inﬂuencing Additional Readings
marijuana smoking among University of
Hawaii students illustrates how collecting ob- Berger, Joseph, Morris Zelditch, Jr. , and Bo Anderson,
servations can lead to generalizations and an eds. 1989. Sociological Theories in Progress. Newbury
explanatory theory. Park, CA: Sage. Several authors develop parts of a
theory of social interaction, many of which focus
❑ In practice, there are many possible links be-
on how we create expectations for each other’s
tween theory and research and many ways of
going about social inquiry. Denzin, Norman K. , and Yvonna S. Lincoln. 1994. Hand-
❑ Using theories to understand how society book of Qualitative Research. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.
works is key to offering practical solutions to Various authors discuss the process of qualitative re-
society’s problems. search from the perspective of various paradigms,
showing how they inﬂuence the nature of inquiry.
The editors also critique positivism from a postmod-
Key Terms ern perspective.
DeVault, Marjorie L. 1999. Liberating Method: Feminism
paradigms operationalization and Social Research. Philadelphia: Temple University
macrotheory operational deﬁnition Press. This book elaborates on some of the methods
microtheory null hypothesis associated with the feminist paradigm and is com-
hypothesis mitted to both rigorous inquiry and the use of social
research to combat oppression.
Kuhn, Thomas. 1970. The Structure of Scientiﬁc Revolu-
Review Questions tions. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. In this ex-
citing and innovative recasting of the nature of sci-
1. Consider the possible relationship between entiﬁc development, Kuhn disputes the notion of
education and prejudice (mentioned in Chap- gradual change and modiﬁcation in science, arguing
instead that established “paradigms” tend to persist
ter 1). How might that relationship be exam-
until the weight of contradictory evidence brings their
ined through (a) deductive and (b) inductive
rejection and replacement by new paradigms. This
short book is at once stimulating and informative.
2. Select a social problem that concerns you, Loﬂand, John, and Lyn H. Loﬂand. 1995. Analyzing So-
such as war, pollution, overpopulation, preju- cial Settings: A Guide to Qualitative Observation and
dice, or poverty, Then use one of the para- Analysis, 3rd ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth. An excel-
digms discussed in the chapter to address that lent text on how to conduct qualitative inquiry with
problem. What would be the main variables an eye toward discovering the rules of social life.
Includes a critique of postmodernism.
involved in the study of that problem, includ-
McGrane, Bernard. 1994. The Un-TV and 10 mph Car:
ing variables that may cause it or hold the key
Experiments in Personal Freedom and Everyday Life.
to its solution?
Fort Bragg, CA: The Small Press. Some excellent and
52 CHAPTER 2 PARADIGMS, THEORY, AND RESEARCH
imaginative examples of an ethnomethodological ap- Visit the eBabbie Resource Center for an overview of
proach to society and to the craft of sociology. The each chapter and helpful online tutorials. Find informa-
book is useful for both students and faculty. tion on budgeting and step-by-step examples of model re-
Reinharz, Shulamit. 1992. Feminist Methods in Social Re- search projects at Planning a Research Project. Learn
search. New York: Oxford University Press. This book how to use quantitative and qualitative data analysis pro-
explores several social research techniques (such grams at Doing Data Analysis, and brush up on your
as interviewing, experiments, and content analysis) statistics at Statistics Review. You can also further your
from a feminist perspective. study by accessing Internet Links and Exercises re-
Ritzer, George. 1988. Sociological Theory. New York: lated to chapter materials, Flash Cards, Quizzes, and
Knopf. This is an excellent overview of the major many other learning tools.
theoretical traditions in sociology.
Sprague, Joey. 1997. “Holy Men and Big Guns: The InfoTrac College Edition
Can[n]on in Social Theory.” Gender and Society 11 http://www.infotrac-college.com/
(1): 88 –107. This is an excellent analysis of the ways wadsworth/access.html
in which conventional social theory misses aspects Access the latest news and journal articles
of society that might be revealed in a feminist exami- with InfoTrac College Edition, an easy-to-use online data-
nation. base of reliable, full-length articles from hundreds of top
Turner, Jonathan H. , ed. 1989. Theory Building in Sociol- academic journals. Conduct an electronic search using
ogy: Assessing Theoretical Cumulation. Newbury Park, the following search terms:
CA: Sage. This collection of essays on sociological Conﬂict theory
theory construction focuses speciﬁcally on the ques- Ethnomethodology
tion posed by Turner’s introductory chapter, “Can So- Feminism
ciology Be a Cumulative Science?” Logical positivism
Turner, Stephen Park, and Jonathan H. Turner. 1990. The Macro-theory
Impossible Science: An Institutional Analysis of Ameri- Micro-theory
can Sociology. Newbury Park, CA: Sage. Two authors Social sciences functionalism
bring two very different points of view to the history Sociological theory
of U.S. sociologists’ attempt to establish a science of Symbolic interactionism
The Wadsworth Sociology Resource
Center: Virtual Society
Visit the companion Web site for the second
edition of The Basics of Social Research to access a wide
range of student resources. Begin by clicking on the Stu-
dent Resources section of the book’s Web site to access
the following study tools:
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