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 •   Positivism
 •   Pragmatism
 •   Hermeneutics
                A Paradigm
• Represents a patterned set of assumptions
  concerning reality (ontology),
• knowledge of that reality (epistemology),
• and the particular ways for knowing about that
  reality (methodology)
• These assumptions and the ways for knowing are
  untested givens and determine how one engages
  and comes to understand the world (Guba, 1990)
            Two Philosophies
• By the end of the 19th century two philosophies
  became dominant in the social sciences:
  (i) idealism and (ii) empiricism
• This period—the belief that people can understand
  their environment through reason & empirical

• Philosophical idealism originated with the
  writings of Socrates and Plato
• Later Georg Hegel, a German, used idealism in his
• By contrast, empiricism originated with the
  writings of Aristotle

• Gives account of procedures & operations in order
  to obtain knowledge of things—equating reality
  and sense perception with the physical world

• However, a scientific movement called positivism
  attacked the speculative philosophies of idealism
  and empiricism as unscientific

• So by 1890, positivism became a dominant social
  force in Europe advocating scientific methods of
• Using scientific methods to do social research
• Objective ways of knowing--process needs to be
  rational and scientific
• 19th century Enlightenment legacy
• Positivists believe that there is little if any
  methodological difference between social sciences
  and natural sciences
• Societies like nature, operate according to laws
• Social theorists: Pierre-Simon Laplace, Auguste
  Comte, etc
• is the teaching of philosophy which originated in
  the United States in the late 1800s
• Pragmatists argue that what should be taken as
  true is one which most contributes to the human
  good, i.e., the needs of humankind should guide
  the path of human inquiry.
• That is theoretical claims should be tied to
  verification practices
• Opposes both formalist and rationalist schools of
• Social theorists; William James, John Dewey, etc
• In sociology, means the interpretation and
  understanding of the meaning of social events
• It enjoyed prominence during the 1960s and 70s

• as applied to sociology can be traced to the work
  of Max Weber who coined the term "action" to
  denote behavior to which the individual attaches
  subjective meaning

• the sociology of knowledge, seeks to understand
  how one's position in the social structure relates to
  how one sees the world, e.g., social class, and
  group memberships.
• Symbolic interaction utilizes hermeneutics by
  emphasizing how one perceives the world through
  his or her construction of reality,
• most notably promulgated by W.I Thomas'
  "definition of the situation," which states that if
  people define situations as real, they are real in
  their consequences
• Social theorists: Max Weber, Karl Marx, W.I.
  Thomas, etc
            Type of work & science & outcome
• Positivism: rule-following & normal & facts
• Pragmatism: tinkering & revolutionary &
• Hermeneutics: discourse & non-science &
• Positivism: ideology of normal science with
  its routinized practices and high task
• Pragmatism:
                A concept
• Is a generalized (abstract) idea about
  concrete objects
• Objective phenomena
• E.g. suicide rate
               A construct
• Is a generalized (abstract) idea about an
  entire class of subjective phenomena
• E.g. individualism
                An attribute
• Is a specific characteristic that can be
  associated with a definable entity
• E.g. charismatic
               A dimension
• Is the totality of logically related attributes
• A class or division, e.g., typology(types)
               A Variable
• A characteristic that vary from one subject
  to another
• Something that can change
      Two types of variables:
• Explanatory and extraneous
  1. Explanatory variables—
• variables that are the objects of the research,
  I.e., (a) independent variable (x)—the
  assumed cause
  (b) dependent variable (y)—the assumed
  effect—subject of study
      2. Extraneous variables—
• all the other variables that are not the objects of
  the research, I.e., (a) control variable (z)—variable
  that is held constant so that the relationship
  between the independent and dependent variables
  can be further explored, e.g, (1) intervening
  variable—a variable that links X and Y
• (2) antecedent variable—a causal factor that
  comes before X and Y.
• (3) Consequent variable—an effect that comes
  after X and Y
• Is a statement that describes some
  relationship between concepts/constructs
  that are written in the language of
• P1: proposition one
• A testable statement –relationship of
• Ha = research or alternate hypothesis
• Ho = Null hypothesis
• A generalized, synthetic, explanatory
  statement that interrelates a set of other
  more specific propositions
• Theoretical definition: is a stated intention
  to use a word in a specific way
        Deductive reasoning
Theory to observation
From more general ideas to more specific
         Inductive reasoning
Observation to theory
From specific ideas to general ones
     Empirical generalizations
Statements that summarize a set of
Can be derived from literature review
          Conceptual models
Partial theories—offer partial answers to our
  theoretical questions
       Operational definition
• Methods used to measure a variable, etc.
• Nominal definition: an agreed-upon
  definition of a concept or construct
• Nomothetic and idiographic are terms coined by Kantian philosopher
  Wilhelm Windelband to describe two distinct approaches to
  knowledge, each one corresponding to a different intellectual
  tendency, and each one corresponding to a different branch of
• Nomothetic is based on what Kant described as a tendency to
  generalize, and is expressed in the natural sciences. It describes the
  effort to derive laws that explain objective phenomena.
• Idiographic is based on what Kant described as a tendency to specify,
  and is expressed in the humanities. It describes the effort to understand
  the meaning of contingent, accidental, and often subjective
• In sociology, nomothetic explanation presents a generalized
  understanding of a given case, and is contrasted with idiographic
  explanation, which presents a full description of a given case.
• finding something unexpected and useful while
  searching for something else entirely
• For instance, homelessness & mental illness, etc
• used as a sociological method in Anselm L.
  Strauss’ and Barney G. Glasers’ Grounded Theory
• building on ideas by sociologist Robert K. Merton
  who in Social Theory and Social Structure (1949)
  claimed that serendipity was an Indian concept.
• the least complicated explanation for an

• For instance, testing of hypotheses

• Simple explanations of data, results/findings

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