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1 Proposal: number 124

124. SOC 212: Sociological Analysis

Contact:Dean Savage
Authors:Suzanne Strickland
Dean Savage
Abstract:Sociology 212 - Course Description

This course is concerned with “what constitutes a good explanation.” How does
a social scientist decide that one explanation of a given set of events is more
valid than competing explanations? What standards of judgment are appropriate?
How do we decide? One way to approach this question is to look closely at the
arguments and assumptions of a particular text and evaluate their strengths and
weaknesses. Another way is to look at conflicting interpretations of a
particular set of events and then try to decide which interpretation is better.
We use both approaches. The aim of these detailed examinations will be to
develop skills and sensitivity in social scientific analysis. We will pay
particular attention to the advantages and limitations of various research
strategies, to the questionable assumptions which may be hidden in research
techniques, and to the grounds on which one interpretation of events is judged
to be better than another. We also, in very practical and concrete ways,
learn some of the basics of social science research methods. Sociological
Analysis is both an introduction to social scientific analysis, and to social
science methods. It is a course which has broad applicability and portability,
one relevant to all the social sciences.

In the course, we pay attention to the differences between the different social
sciences, to the differences between the social sciences and the natural
sciences, and to the differences between social scientific and historical forms
of explanation. Students learn to distinguish between nomothetic and
idiographic forms of explanation.

The heart of the course will involve learning how to use the social research
techniques demonstrated in the readings, to help you evaluate research done by
others and to plan how to do research of your own. There will be a number of
short papers, which are intended to give experience in particular research
skills. The assignments may be thought of as stages in a research project.
The first assignment is to identify a particular social science research topic.

The next step is to explore the literature. For this assignment, we have two
workshop computer lab sessions to introduce students to bibliographic
resources. The result is an annotated bibliography. The next assignment is to
write a research review of the most important literature relevant to the
research topic. The final project will be to write a research proposal in which
the research topic is restated as a research question.

In this paper, students propose a plan for research to gather data to answer
the research question. Along the way, there are a number of short exercises to
provide hands-on experience with various skills and analytic techniques. There
is also a midterm exam and a final exam.

Submissions and Approvals

Course Date Requirement Action By Whom Notes
SOC 212 2009-02-13 SS Submitted Dept
SOC 212 2009-03-04 SS Approved GEAC
SOC 212 2009-04-02 SS Approved UCC
SOC 212 2009-04-02 SS Approved Senate