# 2.1 Approaches to sociological research  (Page 4/17)

 Page 4 / 17

## Formulate a hypothesis

A hypothesis    is an assumption about how two or more variables are related; it makes a conjectural statement about the relationship between those variables. In sociology, the hypothesis will often predict how one form of human behavior influences another. In research, independent variables    are the cause of the change. The dependent variable is the effect , or thing that is changed.

For example, in a basic study, the researcher would establish one form of human behavior as the independent variable and observe the influence it has on a dependent variable. How does gender (the independent variable) affect rate of income (the dependent variable)? How does one’s religion (the independent variable) affect family size (the dependent variable)? How is social class (the dependent variable) affected by level of education (the independent variable)?

Examples of dependent and independent variables
Hypothesis Independent Variable Dependent Variable
The greater the availability of affordable housing, the lower the homeless rate. Affordable Housing Homeless Rate
The greater the availability of math tutoring, the higher the math grades. Math Tutoring Math Grades
The greater the police patrol presence, the safer the neighborhood. Police Patrol Presence Safer Neighborhood
The greater the factory lighting, the higher the productivity. Factory Lighting Productivity
The greater the amount of observation, the higher the public awareness. Observation Public Awareness

At this point, a researcher’s operational definitions help measure the variables. In a study asking how tutoring improves grades, for instance, one researcher might define a “good” grade as a C or better, while another uses a B+ as a starting point for “good.” Another operational definition might describe “tutoring” as “one-on-one assistance by an expert in the field, hired by an educational institution.” Those definitions set limits and establish cut-off points that ensure consistency and replicability in a study.

As the table shows, an independent variable is the one that causes a dependent variable to change. For example, a researcher might hypothesize that teaching children proper hygiene (the independent variable) will boost their sense of self-esteem (the dependent variable). Or rephrased, a child’s sense of self-esteem depends, in part, on the quality and availability of hygienic resources.

Of course, this hypothesis can also work the other way around. Perhaps a sociologist believes that increasing a child’s sense of self-esteem (the independent variable) will automatically increase or improve habits of hygiene (now the dependent variable). Identifying the independent and dependent variables is very important. As the hygiene example shows, simply identifying two topics, or variables, is not enough; their prospective relationship must be part of the hypothesis.

Just because a sociologist forms an educated prediction of a study’s outcome doesn’t mean data contradicting the hypothesis aren’t welcome. Sociologists analyze general patterns in response to a study, but they are equally interested in exceptions to patterns. In a study of education, a researcher might predict that high school dropouts have a hard time finding rewarding careers. While it has become at least a cultural assumption that the higher the education, the higher the salary and degree of career happiness, there are certainly exceptions. People with little education have had stunning careers, and people with advanced degrees have had trouble finding work. A sociologist prepares a hypothesis knowing that results will vary.

Once the preliminary work is done, it’s time for the next research steps: designing and conducting a study and drawing conclusions. These research methods are discussed below.

## Interpretive framework

While many sociologists rely on the scientific method as a research approach, others operate from an interpretive framework    . While systematic, this approach doesn’t follow the hypothesis-testing model that seeks to find generalizable results. Instead, an interpretive framework , sometimes referred to as an interpretive perspective, seeks to understand social worlds from the point of view of participants, which leads to in-depth knowledge.

Interpretive research is generally more descriptive or narrative in its findings. Rather than formulating a hypothesis and method for testing it, an interpretive researcher will develop approaches to explore the topic at hand that may involve a significant amount of direct observation or interaction with subjects. This type of researcher also learns as he or she proceeds and sometimes adjusts the research methods or processes midway to optimize findings as they evolve.

## Summary

Using the scientific method, a researcher conducts a study in five phases: asking a question, researching existing sources, formulating a hypothesis, conducting a study, and drawing conclusions. The scientific method is useful in that it provides a clear method of organizing a study. Some sociologists conduct research through an interpretive framework rather than employing the scientific method.

Scientific sociological studies often observe relationships between variables. Researchers study how one variable changes another. Prior to conducting a study, researchers are careful to apply operational definitions to their terms and to establish dependent and independent variables.

Write down the first three steps of the scientific method. Think of a broad topic that you are interested in and which would make a good sociological study—for example, ethnic diversity in a college, homecoming rituals, athletic scholarships, or teen driving. Now, take that topic through the first steps of the process. For each step, write a few sentences or a paragraph: 1) Ask a question about the topic. 2) Do some research and write down the titles of some articles or books you’d want to read about the topic. 3) Formulate a hypothesis.

## Further research

For a historical perspective on the scientific method in sociology, read “The Elements of Scientific Method in Sociology” by F. Stuart Chapin (1914) in the American Journal of Sociology : (External Link)

## References

Arkowitz, Hal, and Scott O. Lilienfeld. 2009. "Lunacy and the Full Moon: Does a full moon really trigger strange behavior?" Scientific American. Retrieved October 20, 2014 ( (External Link) ).

Berger, Peter L. 1963. Invitation to Sociology: A Humanistic Perspective . New York: Anchor Books.

Merton, Robert. 1968 [1949]. Social Theory and Social Structure . New York: Free Press.

“Scientific Method Lab,” the University of Utah, (External Link) .

how is sociology questions are set up
how the sociology help to change people behaviour in society.
And interaction of people culture
what is socioty chang?
Rahim
define personality
Ndugu
society is where a group of people live and interact
Ndugu
sir with detail.
Rahim
it includes culture, that maybe religion, peoples beliefs, organizations ways of life and others
Ndugu
what is sociology
it is the study of society or web of human intraction and relationship
Hope
sociology is the study of group or society, and how they interact
Abigail
wat is social change
Social change refers to the transformation of culture, behavior, social institutions, and social structure over time.
Baffa
the term social change has muti dimensions other words.it means change that takes place in society quantitatively and qualitatively .it is the alternative of not only the social structure but also the behavior and attitudes of the members of the society
Evelyn
refers to the transformation of culture
Abigail
is a human being a social product
how can sociological theories be beneficial when studying various groups in a society
what are the important of social stratification
Social control Social interaction Employment Control poverty Social Institution's
Qamar
Hello
masimba
hi
NICOLA
Is sociology ur main programm?
masimba
Yes
NICOLA
what are the uses and application of sociology as a discipline
for people to view themselves. as ahaving a place in the world in different groups by way of there interests and priorities in life
howard
thanks
Nnenna
do you have antropology books we badly need for our class discussion. Our topic is all about Variation in gender hierarchy.
no..
Khushboo
hlo
Tariq
hi
Khushboo
how are you
Tariq
Kon ji
hii guys
Andrea
hello to you.
junil
hi.
Altaf
that sounds really interesting
MJ
hi
Altaf
hello
Munni
how are you
Munni
hii
Rima
yes
Jamuna
what is social change?
the nature of social change
Sandra
what is the nature of social change?
Gizzie
Social change is way human interactions and relationships transform cultural and social institutions over time .
example of social group ?
Maria
pressure group
Ann
chage in social structure called social change
sooner or later the course rural sociology be out of place
what are the effects of isolation to the development of social self?
demonstrate the relevance of the knowledge of culture socialization to the nursing practice?
Richard
what are the key concept of socialization?
gender roles
Onias
according to haralambus textbook of sociology, sociologist identified; high culture, folk culture, mass culture, popular culture, subculture and global culture as the types of culture. How legit is this?