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1 Sociological Research Methods Paul Blokker 2 Overview Course Week 1 1. Introduction to Sociology and Social Research 2. Philosophy of the Social Sciences.

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Presentation on theme: "1 Sociological Research Methods Paul Blokker 2 Overview Course Week 1 1. Introduction to Sociology and Social Research 2. Philosophy of the Social Sciences."— Presentation transcript:

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2 1 Sociological Research Methods Paul Blokker

3 2 Overview Course Week 1 1. Introduction to Sociology and Social Research 2. Philosophy of the Social Sciences Week 2 3. Research Design: Theory, Research Questions, Data 4. Quantitative Research Design 5. Collection and Analysis of Quantitative Data 6. Qualitative Research Design

4 3 Overview Course Week 3 7. Collection and Analysis of Qualitative Data 8. Mixed Methods 9. Comparative Research 10. Research in the Social Sciences: Summary and Review

5 4 Overview Course Week 1 1.Main themes: a. General introduction to sociology and economic sociology b. A concise history of sociology and its key problématiques c. Theoretical approaches/traditions in sociology d. The nature and philosophical assumptions of social science and sociology e. 3 philosophical dimenions of social research f. Sociological traditions and 3 dimensions

6 5 Overview Course Week 1 2. Relevance: a. Understanding of different ways sociological analysis can be applied to the analysis of (local) economic development, local democracy, interaction micro and macro b. Understanding of how to research social and socio-economic interaction c. Understanding of possibilities/limits of social research

7 6 Overview Course Week 1 3. Relevant literature of the reading list: Gilbert chapters 1, 2 Coleman chapter 1 Outhwaite chapter 1

8 7 Overview Course Week 1 4. main concepts: society integration, cohesion, solidarity, trust, embeddedness desintegration, fragmentation, conflict, distrust modernization/modernity social change paradigms/theories of knowledge ontology epistemology methodology methods

9 8 1 Introduction to Social Research

10 9 1. Social Sciences What are the Social Sciences (about)? the Social Sciences engage in the scientific study of human behaviour the main focus is the study of social interaction, social groups and society Social sciences comprise various disciplines: Economics, Sociology, Psychology, Anthropology, Political Science, Cultural Studies, etc.

11 10 1. Social Sciences Key problem of classical sociology the origin and persistence of social order (given that the state of nature is a war of all against all)

12 11 1. Social Sciences Orientation of sociology Sociology is interested in 'human social interaction as people take one and another into account as each behaves toward the other'. It analyses 'systemic units of interaction within social groups, social relations and social organizations'.

13 12 1. Social Sciences What are the object domains of (classical) sociology? modern society Modernity (dual revolutions) integration, cohesion, solidarity (stability) deviation, fragmentation, conflict (change)

14 13 1. Sociology Key concepts of sociology classes/social groups integration, solidarity, cohesion, trust deviance, disintegration, divergence, conflict stability transformation revolution differentiation

15 14 1. Sociology Economic sociology (see Smelser and Swedberg) definition: the sociological perspective applied to economic phenomena laborate: the application of the frames of reference, variables, and explanatory models of sociology to that complex of activities which is concerned with the production, distribution, exchange, and consumption of scarce goods and services. e

16 15 1. Sociology Economic sociology (see Smelser and Swedberg) Key elements: personal interaction (patterns, underlying norms, e.g., non-contractual side to contractual relations) groups (interest groups, classes, corporate groups, social movements) social structures (institutions, norms rules, culture) social controls (norms, sanctions, values) social networks cultural contexts e

17 16 1. Sociology

18 17 1. Sociology The emergence of sociology as a science: A concise history Early modernity (19th century): Dual political and economic revolutions –the problem of integration and social order (Gemeinschaft – Gesellschaft) –The social question (late 19th century)

19 18 1. Sociology The problem of integration and social order Traditional Society/ Gemeinschaft - Famility relations, friendship - Customs - Barter -Traditions - Habits - Inertia - Religion - Man as social man - Comunal property Modern society/ Gesellschaft - Anonymity of social relations - Contract - Exchange for money - Innovation - Novelty - Progress - Secular - Individualism - Private property

20 19 1. Sociology The social question (late 19th century) The social problems emerging with the dynamic periods of transformation wrought by the Industrial Revolution: poverty, inequality, labour conditions, workers health, urban problèmatique, social inclusion and participation

21 20 1. Sociology The emergence of sociology as a science: A concise history Early sociology –Emphasis on the empirical study of social phenomena or social facts (Durkheim), social problems, deviation, social order –Significant influence of emerging statistics and positivism/probabilism: sociology as science

22 21 1. Sociology The emergence of sociology as a science: A concise history Economic sociology: - understanding of capitalism and the Great Transformation of society (Durkheim, Weber, Polanyi) - role of wage labour in modern society - class relations/class conflict

23 22 1. Sociology The emergence of sociology as a science: A concise history Sociology: establishment and expansion –the question of integration and social order (organic solidarity, legitimacy) –the question of the integration of the new masses

24 23 1. Sociology The emergence of sociology as a science: A concise history –A strong emphasis on the empirical study of social facts. –The observation of new social phenomena in modern society (organic solidarity, anomie, legimitation of power) –The emergence of dual objective: 1. the study of objective social facts; 2. the study of subjective meaning-giving

25 24 1. Sociology The emergence of sociology as a science: A concise history Post- or late Modernity: the transformation of modern societies –questioning of methodological nationalism –post-industrial society (disintegration of classes, individual plural identity, increasing cross-societal interaction) –post-society?

26 25 1. Sociology Four knowledge paradigms 1. positivism, post-positivism 2. constructivism 3. critical theory 4. pragmatism

27 26 1. Sociology 1. positivism, post-positivism referred to as the scientific method, quantitative research, or empirical science positivism was at the basis of classical sociology, in order to enhance its scientific status emphasis on relation between causes and effects, experimental research or objectively controlled forms reductionistic in its emphasis on few variables and parsimony knowledge generated by careful obsefvation and measurement of objective reality researcher checks theory with reality

28 27 1. Sociology 2. Constructivism became a contender view of sociology in the early 20th century individuals are seen as developing subjective meanings of their experiences (rather than being directly stimulated by external reality) researcher looks for complexity of meanings, rater than narrowing down meanings in few categories strong reliance on participants views, and interactive construction of meaning researcher constructs theory from observations of meaning-constructions by social actors

29 28 1. Sociology 3. Critical theory A third approach, emerging first in the 1920s and 30s, is a critical approach towards social reality. The emphasis is on exposing social reality as oppressive for marginalized groups. There is thus an explicit normative touch to critical theory in that its advocates an action agenda for political reform. Specific issues addressed are empowerment, inequality, domination, oppression, and alienation. Participants' views in this regard (but not always, see marxist tradition) can be of primary importance in empirical research.

30 29 1. Sociology 4. Pragmatism The approach is grounded in the pragmatist philosophical tradition (Dewey, Pierce, Mead, James). Knowledge claims arise out of actions, situations, and consequences rather than being a prioristically defined. The emphasis in social research is on what works and on solutions to problems. Pragmatist research is thus neither confined to objectivity or to meaning-construction, but refers to both, when appropriate in dealing with the research questions.


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