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Sociological Research: Designs, Methods
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The contemporary discipline of sociology is theoretically multi-paradigmatic. Utilitarianism , also known as "rational choice" or "social exchange", although often associated with economics , is an established tradition within sociological theory. Ward and William Graham Sumner. Contemporary sociological theory retains traces of each these traditions and they are by no means mutually exclusive.

A broad historical paradigm in both sociology and anthropology , functionalism addresses the social structure as a whole and in terms of the necessary function of its constituent elements. A common analogy popularized by Herbert Spencer is to regard norms and institutions as 'organs' that work toward the proper-functioning of the entire 'body' of society. It is in Radcliffe-Brown's specific usage that the prefix 'structural' emerged. Biology has been taken to provide a guide to conceptualizing the structure and the function of social systems and to analyzing processes of evolution via mechanisms of adaptation Social conflict is the struggle between segments of society over valued resources.

Capitalists are people who own and operate factories and other businesses in pursuit of profits. In other words, they own virtually all large-scale means of production. However, capitalism turned most other people into industrial workers, whom Marx called proletarians. Proletarians are people who, because of the structure of capitalist economy, must sell their labor for wages. Conflict theories draw attention to power differentials, such as class, gender and race conflict, and contrast historically dominant ideologies.

It is therefore a macro level analysis of society that sees society as an arena of inequality that generates conflict and social change. This sociological approach doesn't look at how social structures help society to operate, but instead looks at how "social patterns" can cause some people in society to be dominant, and others to be oppressed. Symbolic interaction , often associated with interactionism , phenomenological sociology , dramaturgy , and interpretivism , is a sociological tradition that places emphasis on subjective meanings and the empirical unfolding of social processes, generally accessed through analysis.

Society is nothing more than the shared reality that people construct as they interact with one another. This approach sees people interacting in countless settings using symbolic communications to accomplish the tasks at hand.

Therefore, society is a complex, ever-changing mosaic of subjective meanings. It is also in this tradition that the radical-empirical approach of Ethnomethodology emerges from the work of Harold Garfinkel. Utilitarianism is often referred to as exchange theory or rational choice theory in the context of sociology.

This tradition tends to privilege the agency of individual rational actors and assumes that within interactions individuals always seek to maximize their own self-interest. As argued by Josh Whitford , rational actors are assumed to have four basic elements, the individual has 1 "a knowledge of alternatives," 2 "a knowledge of, or beliefs about the consequences of the various alternatives," 3 "an ordering of preferences over outcomes," 4 "A decision rule, to select amongst the possible alternatives".

Homans , Peter Blau and Richard Emerson. March and Herbert A. Simon noted that an individual's rationality is bounded by the context or organizational setting. The utilitarian perspective in sociology was, most notably, revitalized in the late 20th century by the work of former ASA president James Coleman.

Anomie theory , seeks to understand normlessness , where society provides little moral guidance to individuals. In The Division of Labor in Society , Durkheim described anomie as one result of an inequitable division of labour within the society. Mawson, University of Keele, UK, notes. Critical theory is a lineage of sociological theory, with reference to such groups as the Frankfurt School, that aims to critique and change society and culture, not simply to document and understand it.

Dramaturgy or dramaturgical perspective is a specialized symbolic interactionism paradigm developed by Erving Goffman , seeing life as a performance.

As "actors," we have a status, which is the part that we play, where we are given various roles. For instance, a doctor the role , uses instruments like a heart monitor the prop , all the while using medical terms the script , while in his doctor's office the setting.

Engaged theory is an approach that seeks to understand the complexity of social life through synthesizing empirical research with more abstract layers of analysis, including analysis of modes of practice, and analysis of basic categories of existence such a time, space, embodiment, and knowledge. Feminism is a collection of movements aimed at defining, establishing, and defending equal political, economic, and social rights for women.

Feminism, from a social conflict perspective, focuses on gender inequality and links sexuality to the domination of women by men. Field theory examines social fields, which are social environments in which competition takes place e. It is concerned with how individuals construct such fields, with how the fields are structured, and with the effects the field has on people occupying different positions in it. Grounded theory is a systematic methodology in the social sciences involving the generation of theory from data.

Interpretive sociology is a theoretical perspective based on the work of Max Weber, proposes that social, economic and historical research can never be fully empirical or descriptive as one must always approach it with a conceptual apparatus. Middle range theory is an approach to sociological theorizing aimed at integrating theory and empirical research. It is currently the de facto dominant approach to sociological theory construction, especially in the United States.

Middle range theory starts with an empirical phenomenon as opposed to a broad abstract entity like the social system and abstracts from it to create general statements that can be verified by data. Mathematical theory , also known as formal theory, is the use of mathematics to construct social theories. Mathematical sociology aims to take sociological theory, which is strong in intuitive content but weak from a formal point of view, and to express it in formal terms.

The benefits of this approach include increased clarity and the ability to use mathematics to derive implications of a theory that cannot be arrived at intuitively. The models typically used in mathematical sociology allow sociologists to understand how predictable local interactions are often able to elicit global patterns of social structure.

Positivism is a philosophy developed by Auguste Comte in the middle of the 19th century that stated that the only authentic knowledge is scientific knowledge , and that such knowledge can only come from positive affirmation of theories through strict scientific method. Introspective and intuitional attempts to gain knowledge are rejected.

The positivist approach has been a recurrent theme in the history of western thought , from ancient times to the present day. Network theory is a structural approach to sociology that is most closely associated with the work of Harrison White , who views norms and behaviors as embedded in chains of social relations. Phenomenological sociology is an approach within the field of sociology that aims to reveal what role human awareness plays in the production of social action, social situations and social worlds.

In essence, phenomenology is the belief that society is a human construction. It was originally developed by Edmund Husserl. Post-colonial theory is a post-modern approach that consists of the reactions to and the analysis of colonialism.

Postmodernism is a theoretical perspective approach that criticises modernism and believes anti-theory and anti-method and has a great mistrust of grand theories and ideologies. Due to human subjectivity, theorists believe that discovering the objective truth is impossible or unachievable.

A post-modern theorist's purpose is to achieve understanding through observation, rather than data collection. This approach uses both micro and macro level analysis. Pure sociology is a theoretical paradigm developed by Donald Black that explains variation in social life with social geometry , that is, locations in social space.

A recent extension of this idea is that fluctuations in social space — called social time — are the cause of social conflict. Rational choice theory models social behavior as the interaction of utility maximizing individuals. Costs are extrinsic, meaning intrinsic values such as feelings of guilt will not be accounted for in the cost to commit a crime. Social constructionism is a sociological theory of knowledge that considers how social phenomena develop in particular social contexts.

Socialization theory is an approach to understanding the means by which human infants begin to acquire the skills necessary to perform as a functional member of their society [47] Sociologists use the term socialization to refer to the lifelong social experience by which people develop their human potential and learn culture. Unlike other living species, humans need socialization within their cultures for survival. Social exchange theory says that the interaction that occurs between people can be partly based on what someone may "gain and lose" by being with others.

For example, when people think about who they may date, they'll look to see if the other person will offer just as much or perhaps more than they do. This can include judging an individual's looks and appearance, or their social status. Thomas theorem refers to situations that are defined as real are real in their consequences. For example, a teacher who believes a certain student to be intellectually gifted may well encourage exceptional academic performance. Physical traits do not distinguish criminals from non criminals, but genetic factors together with environmental factors are strong predictors of adult crime and violence.

Sociologists have developed various theories about social movements [Kendall, ]. Chronologically by approximate date of origin they include:.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. For the journal, see Sociological Theory journal. This article or section possibly contains synthesis of material which does not verifiably mention or relate to the main topic. Relevant discussion may be found on the talk page. They may also function differently in a laboratory setting than they do in other settings.

A social researcher can use case studies, surveys, interviews, and observational research to discover correlations. In a negative correlation, one variable increases as the other decreases. In a nonexistent correlation, no relationship exists between the variables. People commonly confuse correlation with causation. When a correlation exists, changes in the value of one variable reflect changes in the value of the other.

The correlation does not imply that one variable causes the other, only that both variables somehow relate to one another. To study the effects that variables have on each other, an investigator must conduct an experiment.

A number of factors can affect the outcome of any type of experimental research. One is finding samples that are random and representative of the population being studied. Another is experimenter bias , in which the researcher's expectations about what should or should not happen in the study sway the results. Still another is controlling for extraneous variables , such as room temperature or noise level, that may interfere with the results of the experiment.

Only when the experimenter carefully controls for extraneous variables can she or he draw valid conclusions about the effects of specific variables on other variables. An advantage of this method of research is the opportunity it provides to study what actually occurs within a community, and then consider that information within the political, economic, social, and religious systems of that community.

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Learn sociology research with free interactive flashcards. Choose from different sets of sociology research flashcards on Quizlet. Using Quizlet for Teaching A-level Sociology. Posted on November 27, by Karl Thompson. Quizlet is basically an online flashcard and quiz generator – you simply set up a discrete ‘study set’, for example, such as this ‘research methods, the basics‘ quizlet;.