SCIENCE is the process of attempting to systematically understand
our world  in ways  that are  rigorous (logical),   testable
(verifiable/falsifiable), and evident (empirical).   Research is
the actual practice by which we gather, interpret, describe,  and
disseminate our attempts to do science.   The broad goals of most
scientific research,   including sociology  are to  establish
understanding by examining (NOT  simply testing)  hypotheses and
generating theories.


Formal Definition:
A theory is a systematically related set of statements, including
some law-like  generalizations,  that is  empirically testable.
They are ORGANIZING DEVICES that  reveal or assert that selected
dimensions of  social behavior  or experience  are related  in
particular ways.

The goal of theory is  to generate convincing arguments
that "EXPLAIN" some phenomena in which we are interested.  A
theory must,   therefore,  be able to  present convincing
arguments on which  our conclusions are based.    For this
reason,  much of theory construction involves LOGIC.   That
is,  we must be able to develop a cogent ARGUMENT to justify
our conclusions.   An "ARGUMENT" is simply the relationship
between our conclusions and  our evidence (whether empirical
or logical).   An argument is a GROUP OF STATEMENTS STANDING
IN RELATION TO EACH OTHER,   and consists of one statement
which is  our conclusion (such as, "poverty creates crime.")

Informal Definition:   Theories are STORIES (or MYTHS) about how
the world operates.

Two Broad Types of Theories

A.  Nomothetic theories (also  called "hypothetic-deductive" or

     Hypotheses  (Definition):    Hypotheses  are  tentative
     statements about the  nature of our world  (give examples).
     Hypotheses are simply expected  relationships between two or
     more even (for example,  "prison overcrowding  causes violence" 
     is a testable hypothesis. A hypothesis is something to be tested, 
     and usually they derive from a broader theory

     A HYPOTHESIS is  NOT a THEORY!!!   A THEORY  is a general
     account of what we see, and a hypothesis is a way of testing
     that account (give examples).

     Independent Variable (the factor having an effect on another

     Dependent Variable (factor that's  effected)  Some general
     rules of causal logic:

       a) argument can't be circular
       b) IV & DV must COVARY
       c) Causal Variable must precede effect
       d) Relationship can't be spurious

B. Ideographic theories:

   Different  than  nomological approach.   The  goal  is
   DESCRIPTION,  and usually written in prose style rather than
   statistical style.   (These are  also called "qualitative"
   theories,  as distinguished from "quantitative" approaches,
   or those that "measure.")

Nomological deductive theories are often called "positivist"
or "quantitative." Ideographic theories, associated with
symbolic interaction, are often called "qualitative."

RESEARCH METHODS: Specific strategies or techniques for systematically
conducting research.

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