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Think Sociologically and Scientifically Explain and Understand


									Section 1: The Sociological Imagination
            Semester Sept 09
 What is science?
  Ø Method  of empirical investigation: Observation+
    experiment + quantification + Experiment
  Ø Analysis of data: Evidence vs. Beliefs
  Ø Theoretical thinking and logical arguments
  Ø Purpose: build knowledge: Universal general laws +

 More relevant for ‘Hard Sciences’ Open debate for
 ‘Soft’ Sciences
  Ø see debate Tim /Scott
  Ø What is true? The relativity of scientific knowledge...
   Problem of determinism
    Ø   Hard sciences explain what is happening in nature
    Ø   Causes = materially conditioned
    Ø   Explain = same cause same effects
    Ø   Understand give space for liberty of individual
   Different objects of research ‘natural phenomenon’
    ‘Human or social phenomenon’
    Ø Human = self aware subject with intentionality (Sense /
      meaning / purpose...) / natural facts = outer cousciousness
    Ø ‘Representations’ are crucial to understand human behaviour
      (ex: Suicide)
   Advantages and problems:
    Ø information direct from subject
    Ø Problem: Bias, interviewed could have their own hidden
 Science looks for ‘causal relationship’
  Ø Relate two or more events / situations in a way which
    one event produces another
  Ø Like in physics, social life have reasons to happen, so
    thinking sociogically requires finding the chain of
    causes and consequences...
 Correlation = 1st step
  Ø ‘Existence of a regular relationship between two set of
    occurrences or variables’
  Ø When two variables = correlated so one could be the
    cause of the other....
  Ø Examples: Mood and rain / beautiful and stupid /
    smiling and be in love.... Sociology diploma and work...
  Ø Danger! The direction of correlation and causation....
   If you identify correlation or even a causation, be careful:
    Ø Same example: correlation between degrees and work
    Ø Don’t presume the reason behind success is only because
    Ø Could be: Infrastructures (library, internet, teachers...) or
      network or other learning skills...
   Independent variables or dependant
    Ø The independent affect the dependent: direction of the
      causal relation
    Ø Controls: make constant one variable so can check the
      effect on others
   Identifying Causes: For any correlation: many possible
   Defining a scientific question from a research problem
    Ø The puzzles analogy:
       Ø Cause of War? Inequality? Religion? Human Nature? Power?
       Ø Lack of information + gap of understanding

   Collecting and reviewing evidence
    Ø Previous research + all literature
 Formulating Hypothesis = ‘ A proposition which is
  advanced for testing or appraisal as a generalisation about a
 Carrying research + collect data
    Ø Attention: Bias ‘Any situation in which the accuracy, reliability,
      validity...of findings are held to be distorted by limitations of
      method or researcher or theory presupposition...’
 Ethnography (participative observation)

 Surveys

 Experiments

 Life stories

 Comparative research

 Historical analysis

 Combining different methods
Exercise: Pick your own example and try to use your sociological imagination
    as C. Wright Mills did with Unemployment, war, marriage, metropolis....
               [These are to remind you some part of his definition]

   Biography /History

   Individual / group

   Cultural Relativity (space and time)

   Structures / elements / functions of groups

   Microcosm / Macrocosm

   Continuity / change in society

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