The Practice of Social Research 10/e Earl BabbieChapman University
Chapter 1 Human Inquiry and Science
Chapter Outline • Looking For Reality • The Foundations of Social Science • Some Dialectics of Social Research • The Ethics of Social Research
How We Know What We Know • Direct Experience and Observation • Personal Inquiry • Tradition • Authority
Looking for Reality Two Criteria • Logical support - must make sense • Empirical support - must not contradict actual observation
Ordinary Human Inquiry • Humans recognize that future circumstances are caused by present ones. • Learn that patterns of cause and effect are probabilistic in nature. • Aim to answer both “what” and “why” questions, and pursue these goals by observing and figuring out.
Things “Everyone Knows” • Sources of our secondhand knowledge: • Tradition • Authority • Both provide a starting point for inquiry, but can lead us to start at the wrong point and push us in the wrong direction.
Errors in Inquiry and Solutions • Inaccurate observations • Measurement devices guard against inaccurate observations and add a degree of precision. • Overgeneralization • Commit to a representative sample of observations and repeat a study to make sure the same results are produced each time.
Errors in Inquiry and Solutions • Selective observation • Make an effort to find “deviant cases” that do not fit into the general pattern. • Illogical Reasoning • Use systems of logic consciously and explicitly.
Views of Reality • Premodern - Things are as they seem to be. • Modern - Acknowledgment of human subjectivity. • Postmodern -There is no objective reality to be observed.
Foundations of Social Science • Theory - logic • Data collection - observation • Data Analysis - comparison of what is logically expected with what is actually observed
Social Regularities Examples of Patterns in social life: • Only people aged 18 and above can vote. • Only people with a license can drive.
Aggregates • The collective actions and situations of many individuals. • Focus of social science is to explain why aggregated patterns of behavior are regular even when individuals change over time.
Approaches to Social Research • Idiographic - Seeks to fully understand the causes of what happened in a single instance. • Nomothetic - Seeks to explain a class of situations or events rather than a single one.
Approaches to Social Research • Induction – Moves from specific observations to the discovery of a pattern that represents order among all the given events. • Deduction - Moves from a pattern that might be logically or theoretically expected to observations that test whether the expected pattern occurs.
Approaches to Social Research • Qualitative Data – Nonnumerical data • Quantitative Data -Numerical data, makes observations more explicit and makes it easier to aggregate, compare, and summarize data.
Approaches to Social Research • Pure Research - Sometimes justified in terms of gaining “knowledge for knowledge’s sake.” • Applied Research – Putting research into practice.