Document Sample
theories Powered By Docstoc
					2                         PAR ADIGMS, THEORY, AND RESEARCH
    John-Claude LeJeune

                          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
   Smoke Marijuana?
                                                   a society.
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
                                                   where else?

A Quandary Revisited

Main Points
Key Terms

Review Questions                                Some restaurants in the United States are fond of
                                                conducting political polls among their diners be-
Additional Readings
                                                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-
terns happen.”
    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

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

                                                          Conflict Paradigm
Early Positivism
                                                          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.

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-
Symbolic Interactionism
                                                        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
                                                        Structural Functionalism
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).

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
                                                          Feminist Paradigms
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 /
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

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,

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-
ing data:
                                                            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

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.


     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

                                                        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 ([1897] 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
     away others.
                                                        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 [1891]
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

                 100                                                                     100

                  50                                                                      50

                   0                  10      20       30     40                           0      10     20          30     40
                                        Hours studying                                             Hours studying

                                      (b) Observations                                          (b) Finding a pattern

                 100                                                                     100

                  50                                                                      50

                   0                  10      20       30     40                           0      10     20          30     40
                                        Hours studying                                             Hours studying

                       (c)          Accept or reject hypothesis?                               (c) Tentative conclusion

                 100                                                                     100


                  50                                                                      50

                   0                  10      20       30     40                           0      10     20          30     40
                                        Hours studying                                             Hours studying

FIGURE 2-3 Deductive and Inductive Methods


                                     Empirical                                                    Hypotheses


FIGURE 2-4 The Wheel of Science

     “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—
                                                            Distributive Justice
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
theory.                                                     follows:
                                                                      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-

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
theory.                                                      marijuana.
    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:
                                                          that pattern.
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

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
   — (1998:500)

    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
many patterns.
                                                          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
                                                          as follows:
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.

    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
     actions.                                                done.

❑    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

     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          
     (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

Multimedia Resources

                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:

•    eBabbie Resource Center
•    Planning a Research Project
•    Doing Data Analysis
•    Statistics Review
•    Flash Cards
•    Internet Links and Exercises
•    InfoTrac College Edition: Exercises
•    Quizzes

Shared By: