# Foundations of Sociological Inquiry

## Presentation on theme: "Foundations of Sociological Inquiry"— Presentation transcript:

Foundations of Sociological Inquiry
Analyzing Existing Statistics

Today’s Objectives Analyzing Existing Statistics Units of Analysis
Sources of Data Limitations Questions?

Analyzing Existing Statistics
The analysis of existing statistics is not the same as secondary analysis. So what is it? Examination of data typically collected for another purpose to examine some sociological question. Birthrates, deathrates, incarceration rates, taxation, representation…. Existing statistics may be the main source of data or a supplemental source of data.

What sorts of research questions might require the analysis of existing statistics?

The analysis of existing statistics typically compares differences in some statistic:
over time between groups across geographical units any of the above

Units of Analysis By nature, existing statistics describe groups.
Analysis of existing statistics typically compares differences Between groups Over time Between geographical units (counties, states, countries)

Being clear on the unit of analysis in content analysis has particular implications for
measuring latent content. measuring manifest content. determining the ideal types. selecting a sampling strategy. coding the data

A ________ analysis represents changes in a variable over time.
regression bivariate time series log-linear

Sources of Data Statistical Abstract of the United States
University of Michigan’s “Statistical Resources on the Web” Demographic Yearbook SINET

Your favorite databank here….

Existing statistics should always be considered a _________ source of data.
primary supplemental tertiary all of the above none of the above

Using existing statistics, Professor Ford finds that towns with low median incomes tend to have higher crime rates than towns with high median incomes. Ford concludes that poor people are more likely to commit crimes than people with high incomes. Ford is committing the ecological fallacy. using verstehen. doing content analysis. developing ideal types. doing replication.

Limitations of Analyzing Existing Statistics
Ecological Fallacy Problems of Validity Logical Reasoning Replication Problems of Reliability Quality of Existing Statistics

When we base research on an analysis of data that already exists, we face problems of:
repeatability validity generalization

the problem of reliability in using existing statistics.
After examining the FBI Crime Reports for a 30-year period, Professor Hall claimed that the incidence of rape has increased. After examining the same reports, Professor Shine claimed that the reporting of rape, not the incidence of rape, has increased. This illustrates the problem of reliability in using existing statistics. the problem of validity in using existing statistics. the need to replicate existing statistics. the ecological fallacy. pre-testing.

Questions?