PARADIGMS • These are frames of reference that are used for understanding things • Different paradigms suggest different theories that in turn inspire different types of research
Different Paradigms • Interactionist--- holds that social life consists of interactions through which individuals create meanings • Structural Functionalism- treats society and social groups as integrated whole composed of parts, with each performing functions within the whole • Conflict – social life is a struggle for domination
Write the answers to the following questions in your notebooks. • How would a fundamentalist Christian interpret the world? How would they view sex education in schools? • How do Marxists view the world? How would they explain the fact that your pencil broke while writing?
Remember that no paradigm is better or truer than the other. They are different ways of seeing reality.
Theory --- Who Cares? • Theories are general explanations that help us make sense of many interrelated things (description and explanation). They also help develop expectations about the social world (prediction).
Elements of Social Theory • Axioms – fundamental assertions taken to be true on which theory is grounded. E.g. most economics is based on the axiom that people are rational. • Proposition – conclusions drawn about the relationship among concepts derived from axioms • Hypotheses – specific expectations about empirical reality derived from propositions. These are testable through empirical observation.
Why have Theories? • Help guide action – Theories help us decide what to do when we are uncertain about a situation. • Help guide research – Theories help us comprehend reality.
What makes a theory good? • Parsimony – a theory that explains phenomena with the fewest variables possible. • Generality – we seek to establish general laws which hold for all people. • Utility – seek theories that are testable and useful.
Deductive vs. Inductive theory • Inductive implies starting with general question, gathering large amounts of data and moving towards more specific general conclusion • Deductive implies starting with specific question that is based.
Inductive research • Often call their theory “Grounded Theory”. why? Involves • Asking general questions • Recognize conventional wisdom • Eliminate conventional wisdom • Start over by observing data objectively • General findings emerge • Explain patterns and build theory
Deductive Research • Data serves to test theories Involves • Picking topic and reading everything on topic • Specify range of phenomena theory applies to • Find propositions that are known about how concepts relate to one another • Deduce testable hypothesis that identify specifically with proposition of general theory • Observe data and reject or accept hypothesis
Group Exercise Constitute into groups of fives and address the following question: • Construct a theory to explain why there is high likelihood of stepchildren being battered by their step parents. • Construct a theory to explain why obesity is so prevalent nowadays.
The Seven Main Goals of Social Research 1. Identifying general patterns and relationships 2. Testing and refining theories 3. Making predictions 4. Interpreting culturally or historically significant phenomena 5. Exploring diversity 6. Giving voice 7. Advancing new theories
CAUSATION Determinism • Is your behavior the product of free will? • Social science research takes the model that human behavior is determined by forces beyond the individual’s control. • Social science operates on the basis of causal model that is probabilistic in nature.
What is not part of the deterministic model • Social scientists do not have to believe that all human actions, thoughts, and feelings are pre-determined. But when we seek to explain things that lend themselves to social science research, then we have to use the ideas of cause and effect.
Derterministic model does not assume that causal patterns are simple. Nor are we all controlled by the same factors and forces. • Derterministic model does not suggest we have answers to all questions about what causes what.
Types of Causality Idiographic – Singularizing approach • Explanations are like stories; apply to single cases or individuals in specific time periods. Nomothetic – A very broad or generalizing approach to causality. • Designed to discover those considerations that are most important in explaining general classes of events.
Establishing Causality • Association –An empirical association between the dependent and independent variable must exist • Time order – the independent variable must come before the dependent variable. • Non-Spuriousness – if two variables (X and Y) happen to be related to a common extraneous variable Z, then there can be a statistical relationship between X and Y even though there is no causal link between the two variables. In this case the relationship between X and Y is spurious.
Defining intervening mechanism – if you can explain the process by which X causes Y, it increases the confidence we have in our conclusions.