Discovering Sociological Research

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    • 00:00

      [Chapter 2: Discovering Sociological Research]

    • 00:03

      DAINA EGLITIS: Humans have a unique capacityto be curious about their world and to try to explain it.

    • 00:11

      WILLIAM CHAMBLISS: Poets, priests,novelists, and editorialists all try to explainthe world we live in.And they all do it in their own peculiar way.

    • 00:22

      DAINA EGLITIS: Science is yet another wayto make sense of the social world.Science attempts to accomplish thisthrough a rigorous research process.

    • 00:30

      WILLIAM CHAMBLISS: Research, whether in the physical,biological, or social sciences, is in one sense,very straightforward.The goal of all scientific researchis to create reliable knowledge by describing and explainingwhatever you are interested in studying.

    • 00:51

      DAINA EGLITIS: But in science, describing and explainingphenomena has a unique form.The descriptions must be objective and unbiased,and the explanations must be testable.

    • 01:04

      WILLIAM CHAMBLISS: For example, rather thanuse of evidence, the experience of oneor two people or one or two atoms or moleculesfor that matter, science attemptsto gather data from a large number of subjects or events.

    • 01:20

      DAINA EGLITIS: If you want to know the divorce rate, suiciderate, or murder rate in the United States,you could not expect to have reliable results if you justsurveyed the divorce, suicide, or murder ratesin Utah or New York City.Each of these rates varies incrediblybetween different parts of the country,between different ages, between different ethnic groups.

    • 01:42

      WILLIAM CHAMBLISS: The fact that youneed data on a large number of events or people does not,however, mean that you have to have dataon every event or every person.Scientists in all disciplines havedeveloped highly sophisticated waysof sampling, which enables us to generalize to a larger

    • 02:03

      WILLIAM CHAMBLISS [continued]: population on the basis of data from a smaller number of eventsor people.Physicists have never observed every atom in the universe,or astronomers every planet, but on the basis of samples,they are able to generate to all planetsand to all atoms with amazing accuracy.

    • 02:26

      DAINA EGLITIS: Similarly, social scientistshave become expert at generalizingto the population of a country, or eventhe population of the world by carefully sampling small units.No one has ever interviewed all 7 billion people in the world.But by carefully sampling a smaller number of people,we're able to make some important generalizationsabout all 7 billion.

    • 02:49

      DAINA EGLITIS [continued]: But it is not enough to simply describe the world.The second pillar of science is the constructionof explanations, or what science calls theory.Theories make sense of the data.Theories explain why the data are as they are.Theories tell us what to look for and what questions to ask.

    • 03:07

      WILLIAM CHAMBLISS: For example, well-constructed surveystell us that between 1990 and 2013,there was a dramatic change in supportfor gay marriage in the United States.Why did this change come about?The answer to that question is a theory.The social pillar of the scientific house.

    • 03:29

      WILLIAM CHAMBLISS [continued]: One theory is that attitudes towards gay and lesbianmarriage has changed in the United States becauseof the gay and lesbian social movement, and the factthat more gay and lesbian people have come out.Thus, giving a greater number of straight peoplepositive personal contact with gays and lesbians.

Discovering Sociological Research

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Abstract

Professors Daina Eglitis and William Chambliss discuss sociological research and explain how sampling helps researchers gain understanding about a large group.

Discovering Sociological Research

Professors Daina Eglitis and William Chambliss discuss sociological research and explain how sampling helps researchers gain understanding about a large group.

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