. Is the research based on a representative scientific sample or is it a biased sample? For example, headlines exclaimed “Study Links Working Mothers to Slower Learning” (Lewin 2002), but this study included only White, non-Hispanic families, thus resulting in a biased sample (Brooks-Gunn et al. 2002). Another study by the same research team found that there were no significant effects of motherʼs employment on childrenʼs intellectual development among African American or Hispanic children (Waldfogel et al. 2002). The point is not that the study is invalid, but that its results have more limited implications than the headlines suggest. 4

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The purpose of this project is to give you an introduction to social research. As you continue on your educational path, you will discover that no matter the discipline you pursue, you will need to understand some aspect of human behavior. Social research allows you to discover possible cause and effect relationships, within and also between the social institutions that make up our society.

Networking is a social behavior that allows individuals to collaborate and create ties that may create opportunities in the future.


Use Chapter 3 as your guide in research techniques:

  1. Choose your topic.
  2. Pick a Social Institution.
  3. Decide how you want to research your topic

Please follow the guidelines for ASA format (Links to an external site.).

I have attached the example of how the ppt will look like which the teacher had given us along with the prompt and the chapter 3 from textbook.



Chapter 3. Doing Sociological Research Stock.com/elenabs In this chapter, you will learn to: Understand that sociological research is a true scientific endeavor whether it is quantitative or qualitative Relate the steps in a research design Identify the different research tools that sociologists use, including their relative advantages and disadvantages Explain the role of professional ethics in the research process Introduction You have now seen some of the interesting things sociologists study through a glimpse into the sociology of culture. You also have a basic foundation in the sociological perspective and the major concepts in the field. We turn now to the tools sociologists use to study social phenomena̶the methods of sociological research. These methods are varied. How you proceed in research depends on the sociological question that you are asking. Let us start with some examples. Suppose you wanted to do some sociological research on how homeless people lived. What is life like for them? How dangerous is it? Where are the homeless to be found? Do they interact and associate with each other? Do they work at all, and if so, doing what? Do they feel rejected by society? Do they really sleep on park benches at night? Sociologist Mitch Duneier (1999) in his study entitled “Sidewalk” wanted to know all these things and more. So he decided to study a group of homeless people by living with them, and that is exactly what he did. He lived with them on their park benches and in doorways on New York Cityʼs Lower East Side. He spent four years with them. He interacted with them. He worked with them̶a group consisting largely of African American men who sold books and magazines on the street. Duneier himself is White: He tells how becoming accepted into this society of African American men was itself an interesting and challenging process. Contrary to popular belief, he discovered that these men make up a rather well-organized mini-society, with a social status structure, rules, norms, and a culture. He discovered many unknown elements of this “sidewalk society.” In this chapter we examine the participant observation method, such as Duneier used, plus other methods of sociological research. Each method is different from the others, but they all share a common goal: a deeper understanding of how society operates. The Research Process Sociological research is the tool sociologists use to answer questions. There are various methods that sociologists use to do research, all of which involve rigorous observation and careful analysis. As we saw in the chapter opener, sociologist Mitch Duneier examined several questions about a group of people by living with them. He was engaged in what is called participant observation̶a sociological research technique in which the researcher actually becomes simultaneously both participant in and observer of that which she or he studies. In another example of participant observation, sociologist Roberto Gonzales (2016) spent twelve years conducting research with a highly vulnerable population known as “the Dreamers.” Dreamers are those who came to the United States as young children with parents who are themselves undocumented. Gonzalesʼs research was conducted with Mexican youth, though Dreamers also come from other Central American nations. As people know and as Gonzales richly details, many of the Dreamers are now young adults, but they live without U.S. citizenship even though they have lived almost their entire life knowing no other country than the United States. Right now, their future is highly uncertain, even though most have done all of the things normally expected of young people̶gone to school and, in many cases, completed college. But, they are forced to live in the shadows where they cannot legally find work, vote, or otherwise enjoy either the formal or informal rights of citizenship. Without legislation to protect them, they are subject to deportation to a country that they do not know and where they might not even speak the language. Gonzalesʼs research is further showcased in the box, “Doing Sociological Research: Lives in Limbo.” Doing Sociological Research Lives in Limbo Research Question What is it like to live your life in the United States starting as a young child, only to learn once you grow a little older that you are actually not a U.S. citizen? Even though you may have come to the United States as a very young person, spoken English all your life, attended school, perhaps even college, what if you eventually learned a way that you could never get a job, apply for various benefits, vote, get a driverʼs license, or enjoy other rights of being a U.S. citizen? This is what sociologist Roberto Gonzales asks in his richly detailed study of undocumented young people living in limbo in the United States. Research Methodology Gonzales used multiple methods of sociological research in studying undocumented youth. He first started observing these young people when he was a youth worker in Chicago. Later, as a graduate student in Los Angeles, he continued his work with undocumented young people, interviewing them, observing them and their families, and also gathering what secondary data he could on such things as the population of undocumented workers in the Los Angeles area and the educational attainment of youth. As you might imagine, such data are not easily available because this is a population that has to live outside of the purview of the usual sources of such data. Gonzales also had to be very careful not to put his research subjects in any kind of jeopardy. His research also includes analyses of various immigration policies that have affected undocumented people. Research Results The vast sweep of Gonzales research is impossible to briefly summarize, but one of his major results is the difference he finds in the experience of those youth he calls “early exiters” and “college goers.” Early exiters are those who, faced with insurmountable challenges of an unequal school system, economic needs to help support their families, and the constant threat of deportation, thus leave school early, feeling disenfranchised and “outside” of the American social system. College-goers hold on to their high dreams of getting a good education and then a good career, and they are supported in these beliefs by strong social support from not only family, but also school counselors and teachers. Both groups experience huge structural disadvantages, including their undocumented status and family poverty, but the most significant differences between early exiters and college-goers is the strong support that college-goers received from strong social networks. Ironically, though, the college goers end up having the most to lose in their adult lives, as their dreams of completing their education, establishing a good career, creating a stable family are thwarted by their illegal status. Conclusions and Implications Although it may be easy for some to dismiss the conundrum that undocumented youth face by thinking that “illegal is illegal,” remember that these are young people who have shared every dimension of the American dream. Their undocumented status severely limits their options and makes them extremely vulnerable to even minor transgressions, such as a simple traffic stop. That or a raid at a workplace can change their lives in an instant, so they must live with the constant threat of deportation to a place they do not even know. Left in complete limbo, the everyday lives of undocumented youth are constrained by the absence of immigration laws that would protect them and help them realize their dreams. Now, in a national context that is “tough on immigration” and where the stereotype of the “welfare queen” is being replaced with the caricature of the “illegal immigrant” (Gonzales 215: 219), policy changes that would help these young people seem even more unlikely than before. Source: Gonzales, Roberto G. 2016. Lives in Limbo: Undocumented and Coming of Age in America. Oakland, CA: University of California Press. You can see from the two examples above how challenging participant observation can be. It is labor intensive and can take years to complete. Although it tends to be somewhat unstructured, participant observation has led to some of the most lasting sociological insights. There are other kinds of sociological research that sociologists do. Some approaches are more structured and focused than participant observation, such as survey research. Other methods may involve the use of official records or interviews. The different approaches used reflect the different questions asked in the first place. Some methods may require statistical analysis of a large set of quantitative information. Either way, the chosen research method must be appropriate to the sociological question being asked. (In the “Doing Sociological Research” boxes throughout this book, we explore different research projects that sociologists have done, showing what question they started with, how they did their research, and what they found.) However it is done, research is an engaging and demanding process. It requires skill, careful observation, and the ability to think logically about the things that spark your sociological curiosity. Sociology and the Scientific Method Sociological research derives from what is called the scientific method, originally defined and elaborated by the British philosopher Sir Francis Bacon (1561–1626). The scientific method involves several steps in a research process, including observation, hypothesis testing, analysis of data, and drawing conclusions. Since its beginnings, sociology has attempted to adhere to the scientific method. To the degree that it has succeeded, sociology is a science. Yet, there is also an art to developing sociological knowledge. Sociology aspires to be both scientific and humanistic, but sociological research varies in how strictly it adheres to the scientific method. Some sociologists test hypotheses (discussed later); others use more open-ended methods, such as interviewing with open-ended questions and the examples of participant observation above. Science is empirical, meaning it is based on careful and systematic observation, not just on conjecture. Although some sociological studies are highly quantitative and statistically sophisticated, others are qualitatively based, that is, based on more interpretive observations, not statistical analysis. Both quantitative and qualitative studies are empirical. Sociological studies may be based on surveys, observations, and many other forms of analysis, but they always depend on an empirical underpinning. Sociological knowledge is not the same as philosophy or personal belief. Philosophy, theology, and personal experience can deliver insights into human behavior, but at the heart of the scientific method is the notion that a theory must be testable. This requirement distinguishes science from purely humanistic pursuits such as theology and literature. Inductive and Deductive Reasoning One wellspring of sociological insight is deductive reasoning. When sociologists use deductive reasoning, they create a specific research question about a focused point that is based on a more general or universal principle (see Figure 3-1). Here is an example of deductive reasoning: One might reason that because Catholic doctrine forbids abortion, Catholics would then be less likely than other religious groups to support abortion rights. This notion is “deduced” from a general principle (Catholic doctrine). You could test this notion (the research question) via a survey. As it turns out, the testing of this research question shows that it is incorrect: Surveys show that Catholics as a group are on average more likely to support abortion rights than are some other religious groups. That may come to you as a bit of a surprise! That is why we do research. Figure 3-1. The Research Process Research can begin by asking a research question derived from general theory or earlier studies, but it can also begin with an observation or even from the conclusion of prior research. Oneʼs research question is the basis for a research design and the subsequent collection of data. As this figure shows, the steps in the research process flow logically from what is being asked. Inductive reasoning̶another source of sociological insight̶reverses this logic: That is, it arrives at general conclusions from specific observations. For example, if you observe that most of the demonstrators protesting abortion in front of a family planning clinic are evangelical Christians, you might infer that strongly held religious beliefs are important in determining human behavior. Again, referring to Figure 3-1, inductive reasoning would begin with oneʼs observations. Either way̶deductively or inductively̶you are engaged in research. Research Design When sociologists do research, they engage in a process of discovery. They organize their research questions and procedures systematically̶their research site being the social world. Through research, sociologists organize their observations and interpret them. Developing a Research Question Sociological research is an organized practice that can be described in a series of steps (see Figure 3-1). The first step in sociological research is to develop a research question. One source of research questions is past research. For any number of reasons, the sociologist might disagree with a research finding or wonder if it still holds and thus decide to carry out further research. A research question can also begin from an observation that you make in everyday life, such as wondering about the lives of homeless people. Developing a sociological research question typically involves reviewing existing studies on the subject, such as past research reports or current articles on your subject matter. This process is called a literature review. Digital technology has vastly simplified the task of doing a literature review. Researchers who once had to burrow through paper indexes and card catalogs to find material relevant to their studies can now scan much larger swaths of material in far less time using online databases. The catalogs of most major libraries in the world are accessible on the Internet, as are specialized indexes, professional research journals, discussion groups, and other research tools developed to assist sociological researchers. Most of the many journals that report new sociological research are now available online in full-text format through university and college libraries. JSTOR (for “journal storage”) and Sociological Abstracts are two of the most important for sociologists, although they are not the only sources of published research. Of course, the vast amount of such information that is available on the Internet means it is especially important to know how to assess whether or not the information is valid. How do you know when something found on the web is valid or true? A lot of what is found on the web is of questionable accuracy, that is, unsubstantiated by accurate research or empirical study. Pay attention, for example, to what person or group has posted the website. Is it a political organization? An organization promoting a cause? A person expressing an opinion? See the box “A Sociological Eye on the Media: Fake News, Research, and the Media” on pages 63–64 for some guidelines about interpreting what you find on the web and in the media. A Sociological Eye on the Media Fake News, Research, and the Media When you watch the news, read a newspaper, or search the web, you are likely to learn about various new research studies purporting some new finding. How do you know if the research results reported in the media are accurate? Just as in being careful about basing opinions on so-called fake news, you have to be learn how to interpret the legitimacy of what you hear in the media. The following questions will help: 1. What are the major variables in the study? Are the researchers claiming a causal connection between two or more variables? For example, the press reported that one way parents can reduce the chances of their children becoming sexually active at an early age is for the parents to quit smoking (OʼNeil 2002)̶an oversimplified claim from the original research. The researcher who conducted this study actually claimed there was no direct link between parental smoking and teen sex, although she found a correlation between parentsʼ risky behaviors̶smoking, heavy drinking, and not using seat belts̶and childrenʼs sexual activity. She argued that parents who engage in unsafe activities provide a model for their childrenʼs own risky behavior (Wilder and Watt 2002). Just because there is a link, or “correlation,” between two variables does not necessarily mean one caused the other. Seeing parental behavior as a model for what children do is hardly the same thing as seeing parentsʼ smoking as the cause of early sexual activity! 2. How have researchers defined and measured the major topics of their study? For example, if someone claims that 10 percent of all people are gay, how is “being gay” defined? Does it mean having had only one such experience over oneʼs entire lifetime or does it mean actually having a gay identity? Does the definition include gay, lesbian, and bisexual behavior? The difference matters because a particular definition may inflate or reduce the number reported. Different definitions and measurements can result in different conclusions. 3. Is the research based on a representative scientific sample or is it a biased sample? For example, headlines exclaimed “Study Links Working Mothers to Slower Learning” (Lewin 2002), but this study included only White, non-Hispanic families, thus resulting in a biased sample (Brooks-Gunn et al. 2002). Another study by the same research team found that there were no significant effects of motherʼs employment on childrenʼs intellectual development among African American or Hispanic children (Waldfogel et al. 2002). The point is not that the study is invalid, but that its results have more limited implications than the headlines suggest. 4. Is there false generalization in the media report? Often a study has more limited claims in the scientific version than what is reported in the media. Using the example just given about the connection between maternal employment and childrenʼs learning, you would make a big mistake to generalize from the studyʼs results to all children and families. Remember that some groups were not included. 5. Can the study be replicated? “Replication” means “accurately repeated.” Unless there is full disclosure of the research methodology (that is, how the study was conducted), this will not be possible. But you can ask yourself how the study was conducted, whether the procedures used were reasonable and logical, and whether the researchers made good decisions in constructing their research question and research design. If possible, you might be able to obtain the original study upon which the media coverage was based. 6. Who sponsored the study and do they have a vested interest in the studyʼs results? For example, would you give as much validity to a study of environmental pollution that was funded and secretly conducted by a chemical company as you would to a study on the same topic conducted by independent scientists who openly report their research methods and results and who had no connection with the chemical company? Research sponsored by interested parties can raise questions about the researchersʼ objectivity and the standards of inquiry they used. 7. Who benefits from the studyʼs conclusions? Although this question does not n …
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