Sociological research is hard enough already—you don’t need to make it even harder by smashing about like a bull in a china shop, not knowing what you’re doing or where you’re heading. Or so says John Levi Martin in this witty, insightful, and desperately needed primer on how to practice rigorous social science. Thinking Through Methods focuses on the practical decisions that you will need to make as a researcher—where the data you are working with comes from and how that data relates to all the possible data you could have gathered. This is a user’s guide to sociological research, designed to be used at both the undergraduate and graduate level. Rather than offer mechanical rules and applications, Martin chooses instead to team up with the reader to think through and with methods. He acknowledges that we are human beings—and thus prone to the same cognitive limitations and distortions found in subjects—and proposes ways to compensate for these limitations. Martin also forcefully argues for principled symmetry, contending that bad ethics makes for bad research, and vice versa. Thinking Through Methods is a landmark work—one that students will turn to again and again throughout the course of their sociological research.
Simply put, Thinking Through Statistics is a primer on how to maintain rigorous data standards in social science work, and one that makes a strong case for revising the way that we try to use statistics to support our theories. But don’t let that daunt you. With clever examples and witty takeaways, John Levi Martin proves himself to be a most affable tour guide through these scholarly waters. Martin argues that the task of social statistics isn't to estimate parameters, but to reject false theory. He illustrates common pitfalls that can keep researchers from doing just that using a combination of visualizations, re-analyses, and simulations. Thinking Through Statistics gives social science practitioners accessible insight into troves of wisdom that would normally have to be earned through arduous trial and error, and it does so with a lighthearted approach that ensures this field guide is anything but stodgy.
The Explanation of Social Action is a sustained critique of the conventional understanding of what it means to "explain" something in the social sciences. It makes the strong argument that the traditional understanding involves asking questions that have no clear foundation and provoke an unnecessary tension between lay and expert vocabularies. Drawing on the history and philosophy of the social sciences, John Levi Martin exposes the root of the problem as an attempt to counterpose two radically different types of answers to the question of why someone did a certain thing: first person and third person responses. The tendency is epitomized by attempts to explain human action in "causal" terms. This "causality" has little to do with reality and instead involves the creation and validation of abstract statements that almost no social scientist would defend literally. This substitution of analysts' imaginations over actors' realities results from an intellectual history wherein social scientists began to distrust the self-understanding of actors in favor of fundamentally anti-democratic epistemologies. These were rooted most defensibly in a general understanding of an epistemic hiatus in social knowledge and least defensibly in the importation of practices of truth production from the hierarchical setting of institutions for the insane. Martin, instead of assuming that there is something fundamentally arbitrary about the cognitive schemes of actors, focuses on the nature of judgment. This implies the need for a social aesthetics, an understanding of the process whereby actors intuit intersubjectively valid qualities of complex social objects. In this thought-provoking and ambitious book, John Levi Martin argues that the most promising way forward to such a science of social aesthetics will involve a rigorous field theory.
Social Structures is a book that examines how structural forms spontaneously arise from social relationships. Offering major insights into the building blocks of social life, it identifies which locally emergent structures have the capacity to grow into larger ones and shows how structural tendencies associated with smaller structures shape and constrain patterns of larger structures. The book then investigates the role such structures have played in the emergence of the modern nation-state. Bringing together the latest findings in sociology, anthropology, political science, and history, John Levi Martin traces how sets of interpersonal relationships become ordered in different ways to form structures. He looks at a range of social structures, from smaller ones like families and street gangs to larger ones such as communes and, ultimately, nation-states. He finds that the relationships best suited to forming larger structures are those that thrive in conditions of inequality; that are incomplete and as sparse as possible, and thereby avoid the problem of completion in which interacting members are required to establish too many relationships; and that abhor transitivity rather than assuming it. Social Structures argues that these "patronage" relationships, which often serve as means of loose coordination in the absence of strong states, are nevertheless the scaffolding of the social structures most distinctive to the modern state, namely the command army and the political party.
A Research Primer for the Social and Behavioral Sciences provides an introductory but comprehensive overview of the research process that primarily concerns human subjects. This book discusses the methods of acquiring knowledge, importance of a well-chosen problem, review of the literature, and relationship between theory-building and hypothesis-testing. The common sources of invalidity in practice, non-experimental research types, Stevens' classification of scales, and estimation based on probabilistic sampling are also elaborated. This text likewise covers the role of computer in research, techniques for analysis of data, univariate and bivariate statistics, and assumptions underlying analysis of variance. Other topics include the canonical correlation analysis, non-parametric analysis of variance, deterministic problem analysis techniques, and common errors in presentation of findings. This publication is intended for novice investigators in the broad category of social and behavioral sciences.
Arthur L. Stinchcombe has earned a reputation as a leading practitioner of methodology in sociology and related disciplines. Throughout his distinguished career he has championed the idea that to be an effective sociologist, one must use many methods. This incisive work introduces students to the logic of those methods. The Logic of Social Research orients students to a set of logical problems that all methods must address to study social causation. Almost all sociological theory asserts that some social conditions produce other social conditions, but the theoretical links between causes and effects are not easily supported by observation. Observations cannot directly show causation, but they can reject or support causal theories with different degrees of credibility. As a result, sociologists have created four main types of methods that Stinchcombe terms quantitative, historical, ethnographic, and experimental to support their theories. Each method has value, and each has its uses for different research purposes. Accessible and astute, The Logic of Social Research offers an image of what sociology is, what it's all about, and what the craft of the sociologist consists of.
Taking the topics of a quantitative methodology course and illustrating them through Monte Carlo simulation, Monte Carlo Simulation and Resampling Methods for Social Science, by Thomas M. Carsey and Jeffrey J. Harden, examines abstract principles, such as bias, efficiency, and measures of uncertainty in an intuitive, visual way. Instead of thinking in the abstract about what would happen to a particular estimator "in repeated samples," the book uses simulation to actually create those repeated samples and summarize the results. The book includes basic examples appropriate for readers learning the material for the first time, as well as more advanced examples that a researcher might use to evaluate an estimator he or she was using in an actual research project. The book also covers a wide range of topics related to Monte Carlo simulation, such as resampling methods, simulations of substantive theory, simulation of quantities of interest (QI) from model results, and cross-validation. Complete R code from all examples is provided so readers can replicate every analysis presented using R.
This is a story of how work gets done. It is also a study of how field service technicians talk about their work and how that talk is instrumental in their success. In his innovative ethnography, Julian E. Orr studies the people who repair photocopiers and shares vignettes from their daily lives. He characterizes their work as a continuous highly skilled improvisation within a triangular relationship of technician, customer, and machine. The work technicians do encompasses elements not contained in the official definition of the job yet vital to its success. Orr's analysis of the way repair people talk about their work reveals that talk is, in fact, a crucial dimension of their practice. Diagnosis happens through a narrative process, the creation of a coherent description of the troubled machine. The descriptions become the basis for technicians' discourse about their experience, and the circulation of stories among the technicians is the principal means by which they stay informed of the developing subtleties of machine behavior. Orr demonstrates that technical knowledge is a socially distributed resource stored and diffused primarily through an oral culture. Based on participant observation with copier repair technicians in the field and strengthened by Orr's own years as a technician, this book explodes numerous myths about technicians and suggests how technical work differs from other kinds of employment.
Social sequence analysis includes a diverse and rapidly growing body of methods that social scientists have developed to help study complex ordered social processes, including chains of transitions, trajectories and other ordered phenomena. Social sequence analysis is not limited by content or time scale and can be used in many different fields, including sociology, communication, information science and psychology. Social Sequence Analysis aims to bring together both foundational and recent theoretical and methodological work on social sequences from the last thirty years. A unique reference book for a new generation of social scientists, this book will aid demographers who study life-course trajectories and family histories, sociologists who study career paths or work/family schedules, communication scholars and micro-sociologists who study conversation, interaction structures and small-group dynamics, as well as social epidemiologists.
Popular in previous editions, this Third Edition continues to help build students' confidence and ability in doing statistical analysis by slowly moving from concepts that require little computational work to those that require more. Author R. Mark Sirkin once again demonstrates how statistics can be used so that students come to appreciate their usefulness rather than fear them. Statistics for the Social Sciences emphasizes the analysis and interpretation of data to give students a feel for how data interpretation is related to the methods by which the information was obtained.
The Reviewer’s Guide is designed for reviewers of research manuscripts and proposals in the social and behavioral sciences, and beyond. Its uniquely structured chapters address traditional and emerging quantitative methods of data analysis.
Philosophy of Social Science provides a tightly argued yet accessible introduction to the philosophical foundations of the human sciences, including economics, anthropology, sociology, political science, psychology, history, and the disciplines emerging at the intersections of these subjects with biology. Philosophy is unavoidable for social scientists because the choices they make in answering questions in their disciplines force them to take sides on philosophical matters. Conversely, the philosophy of social science is equally necessary for philosophers since the social and behavior sciences must inform their understanding of human action, norms, and social institutions. The fifth edition retains from previous editions an illuminating interpretation of the enduring relations between the social sciences and philosophy, and reflects on developments in social research over the past two decades that have informed and renewed debate in the philosophy of social science. An expanded discussion of philosophical anthropology and modern and postmodern critical theory is new for this edition.
Drawing on remarkably frank, in-depth interviews with 160 successful men in the United States and France, Michèle Lamont provides a rare and revealing collective portrait of the upper-middle class—the managers, professionals, entrepreneurs, and experts at the center of power in society. Her book is a subtle, textured description of how these men define the values and attitudes they consider essential in separating themselves—and their class—from everyone else. Money, Morals, and Manners is an ambitious and sophisticated attempt to illuminate the nature of social class in modern society. For all those who downplay the importance of unequal social groups, it will be a revelation. "A powerful, cogent study that will provide an elevated basis for debates in the sociology of culture for years to come."—David Gartman, American Journal of Sociology "A major accomplishment! Combining cultural analysis and comparative approach with a splendid literary style, this book significantly broadens the understanding of stratification and inequality. . . . This book will provoke debate, inspire research, and serve as a model for many years to come."—R. Granfield, Choice "This is an exceptionally fine piece of work, a splendid example of the sociologist's craft."—Lewis Coser, Boston College
Howard S. Becker is a master of his discipline. His reputation as a teacher, as well as a sociologist, is supported by his best-selling quartet of sociological guidebooks: Writing for Social Scientists, Tricks of the Trade, Telling About Society, and What About Mozart? What About Murder? It turns out that the master sociologist has yet one more trick up his sleeve—a fifth guidebook, Evidence. Becker has for seventy years been mulling over the problem of evidence. He argues that social scientists don’t take questions about the usefulness of their data as evidence for their ideas seriously enough. For example, researchers have long used the occupation of a person’s father as evidence of the family’s social class, but studies have shown this to be a flawed measure—for one thing, a lot of people answer that question too vaguely to make the reasoning plausible. The book is filled with examples like this, and Becker uses them to expose a series of errors, suggesting ways to avoid them, or even to turn them into research topics in their own right. He argues strongly that because no data-gathering method produces totally reliable information, a big part of the research job consists of getting rid of error. Readers will find Becker’s newest guidebook a valuable tool, useful for social scientists of every variety.
Teach students how to think about sociological theory.
In the years following her role as the lead author of the international bestseller, Limits to Growth—the first book to show the consequences of unchecked growth on a finite planet— Donella Meadows remained a pioneer of environmental and social analysis until her untimely death in 2001. Thinking in Systems, is a concise and crucial book offering insight for problem solving on scales ranging from the personal to the global. Edited by the Sustainability Institute’s Diana Wright, this essential primer brings systems thinking out of the realm of computers and equations and into the tangible world, showing readers how to develop the systems-thinking skills that thought leaders across the globe consider critical for 21st-century life. Some of the biggest problems facing the world—war, hunger, poverty, and environmental degradation—are essentially system failures. They cannot be solved by fixing one piece in isolation from the others, because even seemingly minor details have enormous power to undermine the best efforts of too-narrow thinking. While readers will learn the conceptual tools and methods of systems thinking, the heart of the book is grander than methodology. Donella Meadows was known as much for nurturing positive outcomes as she was for delving into the science behind global dilemmas. She reminds readers to pay attention to what is important, not just what is quantifiable, to stay humble, and to stay a learner. In a world growing ever more complicated, crowded, and interdependent, Thinking in Systems helps readers avoid confusion and helplessness, the first step toward finding proactive and effective solutions.
Michael Rosenfeld offers a new theory of family dynamics to account for the interesting and startling changes in marriage and family composition in the United States in recent years. His argument revolves around the independent life stage that emerged around 1960. This stage is experienced by young adults after they leave their parents' homes but before they settle down to start their own families. During this time, young men and women go away to college, travel abroad, begin careers, and enjoy social independence. This independent life stage has reduced parental control over the dating practices and mate selection of their children and has resulted in a sharp rise in interracial and same-sex unions--unions that were more easily averted by previous generations of parents. Complementing analysis of newly available census data from the entire twentieth century with in-depth interviews that explore the histories of families and couples, Rosenfeld proposes a conceptual model to explain many social changes that may seem unrelated but that flow from the same underlying logic. He shows, for example, that the more a relationship is transgressive of conventional morality, the more likely it is for the individuals to live away from their family and area of origin.
Today, interest in networks is growing by leaps and bounds, in both scientific discourse and popular culture. Networks are thought to be everywhere ï¿1⁄2 from the architecture of our brains to global transportation systems. And networks are especially ubiquitous in the social world: they provide us with social support, account for the emergence of new trends and markets, and foster social protest, among other functions. Besides, who among us is not familiar with Facebook, Twitter, or, for that matter, World of Warcraft, among the myriad emerging forms of network-based virtual social interaction? It is common to think of networks simply in structural terms ï¿1⁄2 the architecture of connections among objects, or the circuitry of a system. But social networks in particular are thoroughly interwoven with cultural things, in the form of tastes, norms, cultural products, styles of communication, and much more. What exactly flows through the circuitry of social networks? How are peopleï¿1⁄2s identities and cultural practices shaped by network structures? And, conversely, how do peopleï¿1⁄2s identities, their beliefs about the social world, and the kinds of messages they send affect the network structures they create? This book is designed to help readers think about how and when culture and social networks systematically penetrate one another, helping to shape each other in significant ways.
Gives new social science graduate students sufficient background in quantitative multivariate analysis (e.g., regression analysis) to allow them to read research relying on such analysis prior to formal training in statistical methods.
This practical text shows students how to critique social research in a simple, hands-on manner. Designed for use in conjunction with a core research methods text, it guides students through each element of a research article, thereby helping them to develop the analytical tools and critical thinking skills they need to make an informed assessment of the research study they are critiquing.

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