CHAPTER ONE
INTRODUCTION
Neubeck, Social Problems: A Critical Approach. © 2007 by The McGraw-Hill Companies. All rights reserved.
The Sociological Imagination in
Action
• Sociological imagination —enables individuals
to understand how broad features of society and
the times in which they live affect and describe
them.
–
–
–
–
How society is structured
How and why it seems to be changing
How these affect people
SI= H+B+SS and how these are related
Neubeck, Social Problems: A Critical Approach. © 2007 by The McGraw-Hill Companies. All rights reserved.
PERSONAL TROUBLES
AND PUBLIC ISSUES
Assigned Reading Chapter 1.
C. Wright Mills, The Sociological Imagination
Nowadays men/women often feel that their private
lives are a series of traps. They sense that within
their everyday worlds, they cannot overcome their
troubles, and in this feeling, they are often quite
correct….. (C. Wright Mills)
Neubeck, Social Problems: A Critical Approach. © 2007 by The McGraw-Hill Companies. All rights reserved.
Ordinary men/women are bounded by the
private orbits in which they live
• They are vaguely aware through ambitions and threats of the
external society wide environments that transcend their lives.
Why is that? What is so revealing in ‘ambitions and threats’.
• They lack the quality of mind that sees their personal traps in
terms of 1). society wide institutions and spheres, 2). the
interplay of man/woman within a society, i.e. their biography,
and 3) its origins in historical developments- e.g.
industrialization, world system etc.
Neubeck, Social Problems: A Critical Approach. © 2007 by The McGraw-Hill Companies. All rights reserved.
The Sociological Imagination
Is the quality of mind needed to understand history and
personal biography and the relationship between the two
within a society. That is its task and its promise.
It helps us form LUCID SUMMATIONS of what is
happening in the world and within us.
1•What is the structure of society. Its institutions and the
relationship between them.
2• What period of history is it in and how is it changing.
3• What kind of men/women inhabit this society- what is
the nature of “human nature” in this society
To be able to look at structural/institutional origins of
problems, relating it to your private lives, means
possessing the sociological imagination.
Neubeck, Social Problems: A Critical Approach. © 2007 by The McGraw-Hill Companies. All rights reserved.
(Public) Issues and (Private)
Troubles
Troubles: occur within the limited social life of the
individual and involve his or her character and local
environments.
What are your “local environments”?
Issues: are matters that transcend local environments but
affect individuals personally nonetheless. An issue
involves a crisis in the institutional arrangements- a
contradiction or antagonism in the way society is
structured, between ideals and actualities.
Examples of Issues vs. troubles
1.unemployment 2. War 3. Marriage and divorce
Neubeck, Social Problems: A Critical Approach. © 2007 by The McGraw-Hill Companies. All rights reserved.
Well being: When people possess cherished values and don’t feel
them threatened
Crisis: When people possess cherished values but feel some of
them threatened.
Panic: If all their values are threatened then its total threat or panic
Indifference: When people aren’t aware of any cherished values
and don’t feel any threat, they are INDIFFERENT. Indifference
results in political apathy, the “I don’t care attitude”, usually occurs
in periods of rapid social change
Anxiety and Uneasiness: When people aren’t aware of any
cherished values but feel a vague sense of threat, they experience
uneasiness and anxiety.
OURS IS A TIME OF UNEASINESS (i.e. anxiety) and
INDIFFERENCE.
Neubeck, Social Problems: A Critical Approach. © 2007 by The McGraw-Hill Companies. All rights reserved.
Psychological Explanations versus the
Sociological Imagination
Mills says:
“Many great public issues as well as many private
troubles are described in terms of ‘the psychiatric” –
often in a attempt to avoid the larger issues and
problems of modern society (and to push drugs
manufactured by the pharmaceutical companies)…: it
(also) arbitrarily removes individual life from the larger
institutions within which life is enacted and which many
times bear with greater pressure upon the individual
than the personal environments.”
Neubeck, Social Problems: A Critical Approach. © 2007 by The McGraw-Hill Companies. All rights reserved.
• At the start of the 20th century there were only a
dozen recognized mental illnesses. By 1952 there
were 192 and the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual
of Mental Disorder, Fourth Edition (DSM-IV) today
lists 374
• Point to think about: Instead of dealing with the
structure of societies that produce all the problems,
psychologists and psychiatrists keep inventing new
labels for mental illnesses and keep pushing drugs
that are profitable for pharmaceutical companies but
eventually harm a lot of people- yet the problems
they label never get fixed, why do you think that is?
Neubeck, Social Problems: A Critical Approach. © 2007 by The McGraw-Hill Companies. All rights reserved.
Problems of the Physical
Sciences
Paradigms: In every age some trend of thinking becomes
Dominant (C. W. Mills, page 13 & Thomas Kuhn)
In our age the physical sciences biology, physics etc, have
been dominant in shaping thought. Their method of inquiry,
the experiment has become the dominant mode and has
entered social science as well.
It has been assumed that physical sciences are
more certain and more concrete than the social sciences
And hence sociology has become subordinate to them. This is
not so..
Neubeck, Social Problems: A Critical Approach. © 2007 by The McGraw-Hill Companies. All rights reserved.
• The Problems created by the physical sciences
cannot be solved by physical science alone, take the
example of nuclear weapons
Take the example of modern technology It is being
used to ruin the earth’s environment and for the sake
of profit and war. These problems that the physical
sciences have created cannot be solved by the
physical sciences. Hence there is a need for social
science to solve problems that people face
Not only that, the physical sciences are by no means
certain, they are extremely limited.
Neubeck, Social Problems: A Critical Approach. © 2007 by The McGraw-Hill Companies. All rights reserved.
Intellectual Limitations of the Physical
Sciences
1. Biology: 99 % of DNA codes for no protein so its
function cannot be determined
out of the 1% that does, 99% is repetition. All
biologists know is (a part of) the 1%
2. There are over 100,000 confirmed deaths due to
medical malpractice every year, the real number is
much higher.
Remove antibiotics, which were discovered by accident (the
discovery of penicillin), and a few basic surgical procedures that date back
to antiquity and you remove a significant portion of the benefits of
‘modern’ medicine.
Neubeck, Social Problems: A Critical Approach. © 2007 by The McGraw-Hill Companies. All rights reserved.
Physics: Only 5% of the universe is visible 33% is
dark matter and 62% dark energy which cannot be
observed except indirectly through its gravitational effect
And by mathematical calculations
The point being that: However little, sociologists might know,
they still know more than 5% of a society’s structure.
Often their picture of the makeup of society
is much more “real” than the picture of the universe presented
by physicists. Therefore, sociology is not subordinate to the physical
sciences
.
Neubeck, Social Problems: A Critical Approach. © 2007 by The McGraw-Hill Companies. All rights reserved.
• Physical sciences are not the key to human
betterment because: i) without understanding the
social structure within which our lives are enacted,
we can never solve the problems faced by people,
also ii) because the type of social structure you have
determines scientific research. If you have a
militaristic social structure (as in the US) most
scientific research will be concentrated in the military
field.
To uncover this BIG picture we need SOCIOLOGY
and the SOCIOLOGICAL IMAGINATION
Neubeck, Social Problems: A Critical Approach. © 2007 by The McGraw-Hill Companies. All rights reserved.
The Sociological Imagination in
Action
• Core concepts — fundamental ideas
helpful in analyzing features of society
– Derived from major intellectual traditions that
historically shaped the discipline of sociology.
European roots in early industrial society 18th
and 19th centuries.
Neubeck, Social Problems: A Critical Approach. © 2007 by The McGraw-Hill Companies. All rights reserved.
Sociology: Intellectual Traditions and
Core Concepts
• Social facts — social and cultural features of a
society, existing independently of individuals who
make it up, which influence people’s behavior- the
“extrinsic coercion” that guides behavior.
– Sum total of social facts= collective conscience
• Durkheim talked about division of labor and society
based on either 1. Mechanical or 2. Organic
Solidarity.
Neubeck, Social Problems: A Critical Approach. © 2007 by The McGraw-Hill Companies. All rights reserved.
1. Mechanical Solidarity: like a machine, each part useless
without the others
–
–
–
–
Small rural communities with little division of labor
Strong group relations, individual non existent outside the group.
Individual conscience is the same as the collective conscience
People interested in each other because of the group and
common values
• Repressive law, punishment for the sake of preserving group
values, eliminating the individual for the sake of the group
.
Neubeck, Social Problems: A Critical Approach. © 2007 by The McGraw-Hill Companies. All rights reserved.
Organic Solidarity: like organs of a body, each organ
autonomous but depends for its functioning on other
organs as well
-City communities, high level of division of labor
-Weak group relations. People interested in each other
only because of functions each can perform for them “
what can he or she do for me”
-Individual conscience not the same as collective
conscience
- Restitutive law: for the purpose of restoring the individual so he
continues functioning for society.
Neubeck, Social Problems: A Critical Approach. © 2007 by The McGraw-Hill Companies. All rights reserved.
Sociology: Intellectual Traditions and
Core Concepts
• The Conflict Perspective
– Social divisions and struggles characterize
society; also belief that social change is result
of conflict
Neubeck, Social Problems: A Critical Approach. © 2007 by The McGraw-Hill Companies. All rights reserved.
Sociology: Intellectual Traditions and
Core Concepts
– Karl Marx: Proponent of Radical Change
• Marx concluded industrial capitalism—an
economic system in which the means of production
were owned by relatively few (thesis)—produced
class inequalities (antithesis) that led to the
system’s downfall and a new system based upon
socialism- (synthesis)
• Believed that social progress required conflict
Neubeck, Social Problems: A Critical Approach. © 2007 by The McGraw-Hill Companies. All rights reserved.
Sociology: Intellectual Traditions and
Core Concepts
• Symbolic Interactionism: People
Constructing Social Reality
– Contemporary sociologists may disagree over
the degree people are pushed to behave in
certain ways by prevailing features of society
and the degree to which they create their own
reality.
Neubeck, Social Problems: A Critical Approach. © 2007 by The McGraw-Hill Companies. All rights reserved.
Sociology: Intellectual Traditions and
Core Concepts
– Human agency — ability of humans to react
to and change the social conditions
surrounding them
– Social determinism — broad features of
society are important determinants
of what happens to individuals and how they
behave and act.
Neubeck, Social Problems: A Critical Approach. © 2007 by The McGraw-Hill Companies. All rights reserved.
Different Perspectives, Different
Voices
• Sociologists commonly borrow core concepts
from different intellectual traditions
• Sociology studied, and used for betterment of
humanity- the classical tradition is a humanistic
endeavor.
– Unfortunately most sociologists today work for
corporations or the government and hence lose the
“humanistic” part of their field. Describing the main
trends of a capitalistic society they concentrate on
how they can help corporations make greater profit or
maintain the class structure. This is the “official
default” of sociology in our times.
Neubeck, Social Problems: A Critical Approach. © 2007 by The McGraw-Hill Companies. All rights reserved.
• Polls survey people’s opinions about what they
consider social problems:
– What people consider social problems vary based
on history and time
– They go through a cyclical ebb and flow, being
considered important at one time only to collapse
in importance
– What causes something to become a social
problem? Who gets to term phenomenon as
‘social problems’?
Neubeck, Social Problems: A Critical Approach. © 2007 by The McGraw-Hill Companies. All rights reserved.
Traditional Approaches to the
Study of Social Problems
• The Social Pathology Approach
– Popular during the 19th and early 20th century
– Concerned with individuals’biological or psychological
pathologies
• The Social Disorganization Approach:
– Took a more structural view, social problems result from the
environment in which individuals live
Neubeck, Social Problems: A Critical Approach. © 2007 by The McGraw-Hill Companies. All rights reserved.
• The Social Pathologists:
– Conceived of society as an organism
– Just like an organism society is subject to disease and illness
– Cast blame for problems on the individual and their character
flaws
– Concluded that criminals or norm violators were biologically or
genetically inferior. (immigration laws that restricted certain
groups immigrating)
– Since causes were considered personality flaws cures were
individualistic as well, counseling, moral guidance and education
Q. Did social pathologists consider social problems to be public
issues or personal
Neubeck, Social Problems: A Critical Approach. © 2007 by The McGraw-Hill Companies. All rights reserved.
The Social Disorganization
Approach
• Instead of focusing on individual character flaws these people
looked at the immediate environment within which problems were
found
• This interest developed in the post WW1 period when sociologists
wanted to establish credibility for themselves as ‘scientists’- so they
had to separate their study from social moralizing and explanations
that seemed ‘religious’.
• Social Problems were the result, according to them of social
disorganization.
• Tried to understand basic social laws underlying the organization of
society in order to understand ‘disorganization’.
• Studied the urban phenomenon. People overwhelmed by social
change
• Normlessness (anomie) and Social Disorganization- past norms no
guidance and so deviance would occur
Neubeck, Social Problems: A Critical Approach. © 2007 by The McGraw-Hill Companies. All rights reserved.
– Social norms: ideal and expected behavior
– Social roles: standards of behavior and sanctions for violating
those standards
• Merton’s Anomie Theory: Mismatch between cultural goals and
means of attaining those goals:++ conformists +- innovators
-+ ritualists, --retreatists, -- and ++ rebels
• Uneven workings of the social opportunity structure,
industrialization, urbanization and immigration
Neubeck, Social Problems: A Critical Approach. © 2007 by The McGraw-Hill Companies. All rights reserved.
• Social Disorganization and the Ideal Society:
– Behind the claims of social problems due to social
disorganization were the standards of an ‘ideal society’assumptions that were moralistic and not scientific
– They took the dominant culture to be ‘normal’ and those that
violated it to be ‘deviants’ even though their deviance was
blamed on social change, and society and not on the individual.
– Solutions to social problems depend on how you think they are
caused, so the question is social pathologists would fix social
problems by “fixing” the individual, how would social
disorganization theorists “fix” social problems?:
• Answer: social reform, fixing segments of the structure that was
‘disorganized’ based on the standards of organization that the sociologist
though was ‘normal’ or in organization or equilibrium. They would prevent
social change to maintain the status quo, even when it harmed the many.
– The Moynihan Report.
Neubeck, Social Problems: A Critical Approach. © 2007 by The McGraw-Hill Companies. All rights reserved.
• Both approaches failed to see the organization of society itself as
the problem and the role of elites in defining what gets considered
as ‘normal’ and what is problematic!
– 1. Problems are always judged based on deviation from an ideal
– 2. When you think of an ideal you are using your values
– 3. The point is what values should we use and who defines
them?
– 4. Without the concept of ‘ideal’ values social problems cannot
be defined. You cannot therefore state that such and so is a
social problem intrinsically by itself. The so-called ‘objective’
definition of social problems as conditions by themselves has
values hidden behind the definition usually the values of the
social scientist who is working to maintain the power status quo.
Neubeck, Social Problems: A Critical Approach. © 2007 by The McGraw-Hill Companies. All rights reserved.
A Critical Approach to Social
Problems
• Macro Problems (public issues)
• Micro Problems (personal problems)
Neubeck, Social Problems: A Critical Approach. © 2007 by The McGraw-Hill Companies. All rights reserved.
Macro Problems
• Societal problems: affect the life chances of people
living in a society
• Group problems: based on ascribed status. What is
the difference between ascribed and achieved status?
• Institutional problems: social institutions do not
address the needs of a society- what are social
institutions
Neubeck, Social Problems: A Critical Approach. © 2007 by The McGraw-Hill Companies. All rights reserved.
The Life Cycle (or natural
history)of Social Problems
• 1. Awareness 2. Communication 3. Debate 4. Action
• Defining a Social Problem: interest groups/elites
define conditions and make people become aware of
an objective condition that in their estimation is
problematic
• Transformation into a Public Issue
• Debating Causes and Solutions (Systemic or
personal)
• The Role of Power in political outcomes
Neubeck, Social Problems: A Critical Approach. © 2007 by The McGraw-Hill Companies. All rights reserved.
Methods of Research
• Experimental Research- Natural
Experiments
• Survey Research
• Field Research
• Historical/ Comparative Analysis
• Secondary Data Analysis
Neubeck, Social Problems: A Critical Approach. © 2007 by The McGraw-Hill Companies. All rights reserved.
RESEARCH METHODS
• Research Methods:
• Procedures designed to establish facts about
the social world.
• Please Note:
• This section is not from the book.
• Take Notes.
Neubeck, Social Problems: A Critical Approach. © 2007 by The McGraw-Hill Companies. All rights reserved.
SOURCES OF KNOWLEDGE
• 1. Tradition: Received Wisdom, part of cultural
heritage; Common sense, “gut feeling”
• 2. Authority: Speaking as a result of status as
“expert”
– Guard against, the “expert” speaking outside his or her
– Area of expertise. The “expert” is not infallible.
• 3. Personal Experience: It must be true because “I
experienced” such and so.
• VERSUS
Neubeck, Social Problems: A Critical Approach. © 2007 by The McGraw-Hill Companies. All rights reserved.
SCIENCE
1.
2.
3.
4.
Systematic+
Logical framework+
Empirical Evidence+
Falsification
A system of checks and balances to
extract truth.
Neubeck, Social Problems: A Critical Approach. © 2007 by The McGraw-Hill Companies. All rights reserved.
Fallacies of Thinking
1. Inaccurate Observation
Casual versus systematic Observation
Using instruments that guard against inaccuracy
2. Over-generalization
One or a few cases is representative of the
whole
Choose large sample, randomly; replicate study
3.Selective Observation
Observation that fits in with your biases
Neubeck, Social Problems: A Critical Approach. © 2007 by The McGraw-Hill Companies. All rights reserved.
4.Ecological Fallacy
(Ecological refers to things bigger than the
individual, like groups and systems)
Concluding what is characteristic of a group
is characteristic of every single individual
5.Reductionism
Explaining a variety of complex events or
behaviors by a single or narrow set of causes
E.g.: Psychiatric Reductionism
Neubeck, Social Problems: A Critical Approach. © 2007 by The McGraw-Hill Companies. All rights reserved.
Scientific Generalizing VS
Stereotype
Scientific Generalizing is:
1.
2.
3.
4.
Systematic
Logical
Empirical
Falsifiable
Stereotyping is:
1. Casual
2. Doesn’t guard against fallacies of thinking.
Neubeck, Social Problems: A Critical Approach. © 2007 by The McGraw-Hill Companies. All rights reserved.
Types of Research
1. Cross Sectional
Covers the entire spectrum at one point in time.
E.g. US Census Data
2. Longitudinal
Studies changes in a population over time
a) Trend Studies: Changes in the population over time
b) Cohort: Changes in a cohort (sub population over
time.
c) Panel Studies: Changes in the same sample of the
population (the panel) over time.
Neubeck, Social Problems: A Critical Approach. © 2007 by The McGraw-Hill Companies. All rights reserved.
Quantitative VS Qualitative
• I. Quantitative: measuring with numbers
• Used in the Positivistic school in sociology: A school
that seeks scientific measurement to extract laws
about the social world- numbers are then used with
statistical techniques
• II. Qualitative: your interpretation/description
of what you observe
• Max Weber: Versthein: understanding
• Understanding why a behavior occurred from
the perspective of the actor.
Neubeck, Social Problems: A Critical Approach. © 2007 by The McGraw-Hill Companies. All rights reserved.
PURPOSE OF RESEARCH
Exploratory: To find out more about
something
Descriptive: Detailed description of a social
phenomena (who, what, where, when, how)
Explanatory: To establish causation, one
thing causing another- answers the question
WHY.
Neubeck, Social Problems: A Critical Approach. © 2007 by The McGraw-Hill Companies. All rights reserved.
Types of EXPLANATION
Idiographic
(from Idio meaning unique e.g. idiosyncrasy)
Seeks to explain a social event by an
exhaustive set of unique causes- seeks total
explanation, all causes
Nomothetic
Seeks to explain a social event by narrowing
down causes to a few.
Neubeck, Social Problems: A Critical Approach. © 2007 by The McGraw-Hill Companies. All rights reserved.
Social Research is
Probabilistic
Social Empirical Research does not establish
100% causation, rather it is PROBABILISTIC
i.e X does not cause Y 100%; Rather we say
X will probably cause Y, other things being
equal (Ceteris Paribus)
Causation is probabilistic because it depends
on many factors and their combination
Neubeck, Social Problems: A Critical Approach. © 2007 by The McGraw-Hill Companies. All rights reserved.
Objectivity VS. Subjectivity
Max Weber: Value-Free social research.
Objective: Uniform application of standards
to phenomena. Inter-subjective- shared
understanding
Subjective: Arbitrary application of standards
to phenomena.
Subjectivity reveals Ulterior Motive.
Subjectivity and Propaganda.
Neubeck, Social Problems: A Critical Approach. © 2007 by The McGraw-Hill Companies. All rights reserved.
The Research Process in Brief
1. Interest
2. Reviewing existing scholarly literature to learn more
about the phenomenon.
3. Framing hypotheses or research question that, if addressed,
will generate valuable new knowledge and understandings.
4. Selecting an appropriate research method (or methods).
5. Gathering data that will address the hypotheses or
research questions
6. Analyzing the data gathered
7. reaching conclusions based
on thereport
findings
8. Write
or present findings using other media.
Neubeck, Social Problems: A Critical Approach. © 2007 by The McGraw-Hill Companies. All rights reserved.
Types of Research Methods
• Experimental Research
– Research conducted to determine how a
particular organism or object (or group) is
affected by different types of treatment
selected by the researcher
Neubeck, Social Problems: A Critical Approach. © 2007 by The McGraw-Hill Companies. All rights reserved.
Types of Research Methods
– Establishing Experimental and Control
Groups
• Experimental group —group of subjects that
receives special treatment designed by the
researcher so that effects of that treatment may be
studied
• Control group —subjects that do not receive
special treatment designed for an experimental
group. The control group serves as a baseline of
comparison for the experimental group
Neubeck, Social Problems: A Critical Approach. © 2007 by The McGraw-Hill Companies. All rights reserved.
Types of Research Methods
• Bias — Unwanted influences that can produce
research results which are invalid or without
foundation
• Sample — Set of subjects representative of the
total population of subjects
• Random — System of sample selection in which
every individual in the total population has an
equal chance of being selected
Neubeck, Social Problems: A Critical Approach. © 2007 by The McGraw-Hill Companies. All rights reserved.
Advantages and Disadvantages of
Experimental Research
Advantages
Disadvantages
Demonstrate causal links
Sometimes experimental settings are
artificial
Provide high degree of control over
independent and dependent
variables
People aware of their involvement in
an experiment may adjust their
behavior. Hawthorne effect
Practical limits to the size of samples
for many experiments, can’t be
generalized much
Neubeck, Social Problems: A Critical Approach. © 2007 by The McGraw-Hill Companies. All rights reserved.
Types of Research Methods
• Field Research
– Research conducted through first-hand
observation
Neubeck, Social Problems: A Critical Approach. © 2007 by The McGraw-Hill Companies. All rights reserved.
Types of Research Methods
– Making Field Observations
• Passive observations —researcher observes the
group and records the events for later analysis and
interpretation
• Participant observation —researcher plays an
active role in the group to the point where he or
she becomes an active participant
Neubeck, Social Problems: A Critical Approach. © 2007 by The McGraw-Hill Companies. All rights reserved.
Advantages and Disadvantages
of Field Research
Advantages
Disadvantages
Ability of researchers to observe
behavior as it occurs
Difficulty in gaining entry to and
cooperation from a group
Ability to be flexible in determining
what to consider as data
Personal limitations or prejudices may
affect researcher’s observations
i.e data flexibility
In depth and not artificial like an
experiment
very costly and labor intensive.
Neubeck, Social Problems: A Critical Approach. © 2007 by The McGraw-Hill Companies. All rights reserved.
Types of Research Methods
• Survey Research
– Survey — research in which questions are
administered to a sample of participants,
either written or in the form of an interview.
Neubeck, Social Problems: A Critical Approach. © 2007 by The McGraw-Hill Companies. All rights reserved.
Advantages and Disadvantages
of Surveys
Advantages
Disadvantages
Lower costs
Limited to a given point in time
Reaches a population that is widely
dispersed geographically
Sampling and data analysis
accomplished quickly and efficiently
with computer technology and wide
generalization possible.
Quality and dependability of results
hinge on representativeness of
sample and questions
Neubeck, Social Problems: A Critical Approach. © 2007 by The McGraw-Hill Companies. All rights reserved.
Types of Research Methods
• Historical Research
• Historical research —concerned with establishing
facts about the past
• Primary sources — Sources that are original
documents , like diaries, notes etc that have not
been interpreted by others.
• Secondary sources — Sources that have been
interpreted, evaluated, or analyzed by others, for
example, publications of scholars
Neubeck, Social Problems: A Critical Approach. © 2007 by The McGraw-Hill Companies. All rights reserved.
Types of Research Methods
• Analyses of Existing Data
– Secondary Data Analysis —analysis of data already
gathered by others, often for totally different purposes
e.g. population data collected by the census bureau.
– Advantages and Disadvantages of Using Existing
Data
• Saves a great deal of time and money
• Data not always the best fit with the research questions
• All data might not be available for public use.
Neubeck, Social Problems: A Critical Approach. © 2007 by The McGraw-Hill Companies. All rights reserved.
Research Ethics and Politics
• The Ethics of Research
– American Sociological Association Code of Ethics
•
•
•
•
•
Informed consent
Confidentiality/anonymity
No harm to the subject
No deception of subject
Reveal funding sources
• The Politics of Research
– Understand the interest of the sponsor
– Know the implication of the research questions
– Be true to the humanistic part of your field, i.e no harm direct or indirect
to the subject.
• E.g.: Project Camelot- sociologists hired by the government to help keep the powerful in
Latin American countries in power, i.e. friendly dictators to exploit the resources of
those countries and keep them subordinate in the global system. (one question on
project Camelot on your exam).
Neubeck, Social Problems: A Critical Approach. © 2007 by The McGraw-Hill Companies. All rights reserved.
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Sociological imagination - the political economy of war