Soc 3306a Lecture 2 Overview of Social Enquiry Choices Facing the Researcher What is the problem to be investigated? What questions should be answered?
Which strategy will be used? What will the researchers stance be? What paradigm will direct the investigation? The Problem The fundamental first choice A statement of what will be studied and how the area will be delimited The Research Question
A statement of what will actually be investigated Three main types: What = description Why = understanding, explanation How = intervention, problem solving What questions usually come first, but a research project will usually encompass why and how questions
too Research Strategies (from Blaikie, 2007) Research Strategies (cont.) Underlying logic of the research inquiry Inductive: linear, bottom up process Deductive: also linear but top down Retroductive: spiral, more complex, top down, moves from model to real world Abductive: complex bottom up process from real world to generalizations and theory
The Researchers Stance Other choices to be made in research: Will the researcher function as An outsider or insider An expert or a learner?
Will research be done on, for, or with people? What are the implications of these choices? Research Paradigms and their Ontological and Epistemological Assumptions Paradigm is the theoretical framework within which the research takes place Paradigms differ by their ontology and
epistemology Each paradigm has a different way of connecting ideas (concepts and theory) to every day social experience and to social reality (the material world) Ontological Assumptions What is the nature of social reality? Major ontological (philosophical) assumptions tend vary on a continuum from extreme realism to idealism (relativism) Epistemological
Assumptions How do we gain knowledge of the world around us? What can be known? What type of knowledge is legitimate? Empiricism: use the senses to know the world Rationalism: common thought structures shape knowledge Falsificationism: cautious search for tentative truth Neo-realism: search for underlying causal structures Constructionism: reality socially constructed Conventionalism: reality a human creation Links between Ontology
and Epistemology Each epistemology is linked to certain ontological assumptions Empiricism, Rationalism, Falsificationism, and Neo-realism are linked to varying degrees of ontological realism Constructionism is tied to idealism (relativism) Conventionalism an alternative epistemology that tries to overcome weaknesses of above Recognition that reality is a social construction but that it is possible to use empirical methods
to search for commonalities among structures. What is a paradigm? Each paradigm is guided by specific ontology and epistemology, and has its own rules A paradigm is a fundamental image of the knowledge and subject matter within a science Includes theoretical and methodological
rules for working within that particular paradigm Sociology is a multi-paradigmic science Theoretical traditions include structuralfunctionalist theory, conflict theory, social exchange theory, symbolic interactionist theory and more A paradigm. is the broadest unit of consensus within a science serves to differentiate one scientific
community from another defines what should be studied what questions should be asked how they should be asked what rules should be followed in interpreting the answers obtained Relationship between theory and research
The relationship is defined by the paradigm according to its theoretical underpinning The theory tells us what "social facts" are worthy of social research Theory enables organization of research findings and conclusions Theory helps determine gaps in scientific knowledge and provides suggestions for further research investigation
Theory makes it possible to impute causality to the relationships between concepts Furthermore Theory can extend empirical generalizations Theory creates confidence in the value of new evidence and its ability to extend knowledge in the area Theory provides a rationale for the research and grounds for future
prediction Major paradigms and theoretical traditions in sociology Positivism Interpretivism
Symbolic interactionism Social exchange Critical Structural functionalism Conflict theory Realism Postmodernism
Questions: What constitutes knowledge? Is it possible to find social truth? If so, how can truth be discovered?
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