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  • Do you think you're middle class?

  • If you're American, there's a pretty good chance that you do.

  • In a survey conducted by the Pew Research Center in 2015, 87% of those surveyed identified themselves as middle class.

  • That's a pretty big middle.

  • But your intuition about what the middle class islike who it includes, and what constitutes a middle class lifestyleprobably isn't the full picture.

  • And a lot of questions that sociologists try to answer are questions just like thisquestions that you think you know the answer to already.

  • Many a person has played the armchair sociologist at some point in their lives

  • spouting off about how they thinkSociety Really Worksbecause of their own experience.

  • Or the experience of their friend's brother's roommate.

  • We all do it.

  • But having personal opinions about the world doesn't make you a sociologist.

  • Sorry.

  • This is where sociological research comes in:

  • It helps us understand society's patterns, even when they go against our intuitions.

  • Rather than using our gut to answer questions, we use a research method, a systematic plan for gathering and analyzing observations about the world.

  • This is where we're gonna learn how to do sociology!

  • [Theme Music]

  • First things first: Research starts with a question.

  • And the key to deciding on a question is defining the concepts that you're studying, and making sure that both you and your audience agree on what those concepts mean.

  • It's like that thing with The Dress.

  • Some people thought it looked black and blue, and other people thought it looked white and gold.

  • It turns out that some things that seem totally objective just aren't.

  • And this becomes infinitely more complicated when you replace the concepts of blue or gold with concepts like the economy, poverty, parenting, education, or love.

  • So, what if the way I am defining poverty isn't how you're imagining poverty?

  • What if we're all seeing different levels of well-being as beingpoor,” but we refer to them all aspoverty”?

  • That won't work.

  • So you have to define your concepts, which becomes even more important when you get to the next part of the research process:

  • Stating a hypothesis – a statement of a possible relationship between two variables.

  • A variable is just something that can take on many different valuesit varies.

  • Hence, the name!

  • So before you can assign a value to a variable, you have to operationalize it.

  • That is, you have to define the exact variable you're going to measure, and exactly how you will measure it.

  • For example, you can operationalize a variable that you want to use to understand relationships, by defining it asreported marital status.”

  • Only then can you assign each person in your sample a number corresponding to their relationship status.

  • Like 0 if they're married, 1 if they're divorced, 2 if they've never been married, etc., etc., until every person is labelled.

  • And what value a variable takes on is called its measurement.

  • You can measure someone's height, you can measure someone's income, and you can measure someone's relationship status.

  • It doesn't matter how many categories your variable has: 0, 1, 2, 3, 4 whatever.

  • What's important is that the way you define your categories is both reliable and valid.

  • Suppose you decide to use Facebook relationship status as your measure of relationship status among your subjects.

  • For your measurement to be reliable, you have to be consistent in how you measure the variable.

  • So, here's what not to do:

  • Say you have two categories for relationship status: Single or Not Single.

  • Two different sociologists are going through the data, assigning values based on Facebook status.

  • One decides that people who sayIt's Complicatedget the labelNot Single,”

  • while the other decides that these people should be calledSingle.”

  • That's not consistent.

  • Every person with the same characteristicsin this case, the same relationship statusneeds to be assigned the same value.

  • And for your measurement to be valid, it has to actually measure something that directly reflects the concept that you're trying to study.

  • Facebook relationship status may be a useful measure of whether someone's single or not,

  • but it's not a valid measure of, say, their political views.

  • Once you know how you want to measure your variables, your hypothesis will be an educated guess about how they're relatedoften using an if-then statement.

  • Here's an example of a hypothesis, based on what I was talking about earlier:

  • If someone lives in a city, then they are less likely to refer themselves as middle class.

  • In this case, geographic location is what we call the independent variable;

  • it's the variable that we think is affecting the change in how people describe themselves.

  • But you can also have variables that you believe are affected by changes in your independent variable; these are your dependent variables.

  • Your hypothesis is that they change when the independent variable changes.

  • But you have to be careful because correlation does not always equal causation.

  • Correlation is what happens when two variables move together.

  • It can be easy to misinterpret a correlation to conclude that one thing causes the other, when it really doesn't.

  • For example, murder rates tend to be high when ice cream sales are high.

  • But it's ridiculous to think that more ice cream causes more violenceor vice versa.

  • What's missing is a third variable: heat.

  • More people commit crimes during hot months, and more people buy ice cream then too.

  • OK! Once you have your hypothesis, and you know what types of variables you need to test it, you're at your next step:

  • Collecting your data.

  • There are four main ways that sociologists collect data:

  • Experiments, Surveys, Participant Observation, and Existing Resources.

  • Experiments in sociology work much as they do in the natural sciences, just with humans as subjects instead of mice or atoms of beryllium.

  • Let's go to the Thought Bubble to see a real life example of how a sociology experiment works!

  • In the 1990s, the US Department of Housing and Urban Development conducted an experiment known as The Moving to Opportunity study.

  • In it, social scientists randomly assigned low-income families into a control group or one of two experimental groups.

  • One group was a control group, which means nothing was changed in their environments.

  • This allowed for a comparison between them and the experimental groups.

  • They received a housing voucher that allowed them to move to cheaper housing

  • often in a better neighborhood than they were currently inif they wanted to.

  • Then, a whole bunch of data was collectedand is still being collected

  • on many different short and long term outcomes, including earnings, children's educations, and health outcomes.

  • These outcomes are the experiment's dependent variables.

  • So we have one independent variablereceiving the voucher or not

  • and a bunch of possible dependent variables, like earnings, education, and health outcomes.

  • In an experiment, if the change you predicted occurs for the experimental group but not for the control group, then your experiment supports your hypothesis.

  • And in the HUD experiment, sociologists compared how the measures of well-being changed for the control group, compared to those for the experimental group.

  • One of the findings:

  • those who received a voucher had better mental health outcomessuch as lower rates of depressionthan those who didn't.

  • The data from Moving to Opportunity continues to be studied to this day and is a key source of research into how neighborhoods affect families' well-being.

  • Thanks Thought Bubble!

  • The second method that researchers use is a survey, where people respond to a set of prepared questions.

  • Typically, researchers are interested in the responses of a specific group of peoplewhat we call the population of interest.

  • Women aged 18 to 35. Veterans. Left-handed people. Youtubers.

  • Whoever your research question is about, this is your population.

  • But it's unlikely you'll be able to survey the WHOLE population.

  • Even government-run surveys, like the Census, don't reach everyone.

  • So instead, you survey a sample – a smaller group that's representative of the population.

  • And a survey can take many forms.

  • There can be open-ended questions, or Yes or No questions.

  • The questions can appear in many different orders, or be phrased in different ways.

  • So, sociologists have to think carefully about these things

  • and about whether the structure of their survey might bias the respondents' answers.

  • Now, some research takes place in a much less controlled environment.

  • Tons of sociology research is donein the field,” through our third method, participant observation.

  • Participant observation is when researchers observe people by joining them in their daily routines.

  • The result of this type of research is called an ethnography.

  • Researchers try to integrate themselves into a community, hanging out with their subjects, working with them, and so on.

  • They're both observers and participants.

  • This type of data-collection tends to be exploratory and descriptive.

  • You're not trying to prove a specific hypothesis.

  • Instead you're trying to understand the lifestyle of your subject.

  • Some say that this type of research is too subjective,

  • but a major benefit of doing fieldwork is that it lets you to gain insights into people's behavior, in the real world, in a way that experiments won't.

  • Take, for example, sociologist Alice Goffman's field work in Philadelphia.

  • She spent six years living in a low-income, crime-ridden neighborhood in West Philadelphia

  • where she befriended and lived with two young African American men

  • and documented the ways the criminal justice system intersected and disrupted the lives of them, their families, and other members of the neighborhood.

  • The documentation of lived experience like that can provide insights that you just couldn't get simply from looking at statistics.

  • Now, there's one thing that's important note about these three types of research:

  • When researchers interact with their subjects, whether it's through an experiment, an interview,

  • or participant observation, they have to take seriously the ethics of their research.

  • Sociologists are answerable to an Institutional Review Board,

  • which ensures that all researchers take the privacy and well-being of their subjects into consideration when they design their research methods.

  • For example, informed consent of the subject is a must.

  • This means that your subjects must know you're observing them, and must be made aware of any risks they take by being part of your study.

  • Not all research methods require you to interact with subjects though, or even collect your own data.

  • Many sociologists analyze existing sources of data, collected by others.

  • The most common of these sources is government agencies, which collect statistics on income, health, education, employment, marriage, fertility

  • I could keep going.

  • The point is, these data sets are much larger and cover more years than an individual researcher could collect on their own.

  • Plus, it saves time and money for the researcher.

  • Once you've collected your data using one of these methods, the final step is turning that data into information that helps answer your question of interest.

  • You can do this in two ways: through inductive or deductive logical thought.

  • Inductive logical thought takes your observations and uses them to build a theory.

  • You start with data and then use them to form an idea about how the world works.

  • For example, seeing the results of the Moving to Opportunity study might prompt a researcher to theorize that the neighborhood a person lives in is a key factor in their mental health.

  • Deductive logical thought, meanwhile, uses an existing theory to inform the hypothesis you test.

  • In this case, you start with a theory and you collect data that allows you to test the theory.

  • Theories about the relationship between where you live and your child's well-being is part of what prompted the government to not just collect data on the heads of household in the HUD study, but also on their children.

  • And these two types of reasoning are not mutually exclusive;

  • within one study, a researcher will use both to develop theories about the social world.

  • And guess what? You're done!

  • Today we discussed the research method:

  • form a question and a hypothesis, collect data, and analyze that data to contribute to your theories about society.

  • Crash Course Sociology is filmed in the Dr. Cheryl C. Kinney Crash Course Studio in Missoula, MT, and it's made with the help of all these nice people.

  • Our animation team is Thought Cafe and Crash Course is made with Adobe Creative Cloud.

  • If you'd like to keep Crash Course free for everyone, forever, you can support the series at Patreon, a crowdfunding platform that allows you to support the content you love.

  • Speaking of Patreon, we'd like to thank all of our patrons in general, and we'd like to specifically thank our Headmaster of Learning David Cichowski.

  • Thank you for your support.

Do you think you're middle class?

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社會學研究方法。社會學速成班#4 (Sociology Research Methods: Crash Course Sociology #4)

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    koru1130 發佈於 2021 年 01 月 14 日
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