SOC 2205


FALL, 1998





Dr. Kathleen Blee

Department of Sociology

2J22 Forbes Quad or

2632 C of L

PHONE: 648-7590 or 624-6485


OFFICE HOURS: by appointment




Course Objectives


This course is designed to introduce graduate students to the multiple research methodologies used in sociological research. Since this is a survey course, the emphasis is on breadth of coverage, rather than depth. I will be glad to recommend additional reading or courses to sharpen your skills in the methodologies covered in this course.


The objectives of this course are: (1) to acquaint you with the basic methodological issues of sociological research; (2) to increase your ability to critically evaluate sociological research; (3) to assist you in developing methodological approaches and strategies for your own research efforts; and (4) to introduce you to the range of quantitative and qualitative methodologies used in contemporary sociological research.




Course Content


The course is divided into four sections. The first section examines the philosophical and epistemological foundations of sociological research. The second section focuses on basic issues of research design. The third -- and longest -- section surveys a wide range of types of data collection and research designs. In the final short section we will discuss some ethical and political issues of sociological research.

Course Requirements and Grading


This course covers a lot of material and moves at a fairly rapid pace. As such, it is important that you keep up with the work and submit assignments on time.


Make-up exams will be permitted only for situations that are extremely serious; you must notify me in advance if you need to take an exam at other than the scheduled time.


Written assignments must be submitted on time; late assignments will be penalized 1/2 letter grade per day from the due date.


Grades will be based on the following:


1. Exams: an in-class midterm and a (non-comprehensive) final exam, each worth 25% of final grade.


2. Written Assignments: These will be assigned in class. Together, these are worth 30% of final grade.


3. Research Design: worth 20% of final grade. This will be discussed in more detail in class. A brief proposal for this design is due Nov 9. The research design is due Dec 14.


Additionally, you are required to attend all class sessions, to prepare for classes by completing the required reading and reviewing your notes before class, and to participate actively in class discussions.



Required Reading


Earl Babbie, The Practice of Social Research (Wadsworth, eighth edition)


Norman Blaikie, Approaches to Social Enquiry (Polity Press/Blackwell)


James Davis, The Logic of Causal Order (Sage)


Jean Converse and Stanley Presser, Survey Questions: Handcrafting the Standard Questionnaire (Sage)


James A. Holstein and Javer F. Gubrium, The Active Interview (Sage)


Danny L. Jorgensen, Participant Observation: A Methodology for Human Studies (Sage)


Course Schedule and Required Readings


Aug 31 Introduction

Issues of Writing

Positivism & Methodology



Sept 14 The Sociology of Knowledge: Logical Empiricism and Positivism

Positivism & Its Critics

Discussion of Blaikie, Chapters 1-3


Read: Blaikie, Approaches to Social Enquiry, Chapters 1, 2, 3

Babbie, Chapters 1 & 2



Sept 21 Science and Interpretation

Read: Blaikie, Approaches to Social Enquiry, Chapters 4, 5, 6


Sept 28 Causation and Research Design

Read: Blaikie, Approaches to Social Enquiry, Chapter 7

Babbie, Chapters 3, 4, 16



Oct 5 The Causal Model

Read: Davis, The Logic of Causal Order


Oct 12 Measurement and Operationalization

Read: Babbie, Chapters 5 and 6



Oct 19 Sampling

Article Critique

  Read: Babbie, Chapter 8

Assigned article


Oct 26 Indexes and Scales

Exam Review


Read: Babbie, Chapters 7, 14, 15



Nov 2 First exam



Nov 9 Survey Research

  Read: Babbie, Chapter 10

Converse & Presser, Survey Questions



Nov 16 Field Research

  Read: Jorgensen, Participant Observation

Babbie, Chapter 11



Nov 23 Interviewing Methods


Read: Holstein & Gubrium, The Active Interview




Nov 30 Historical Sociological Research


Read: Babbie, Chapters 12, 13




Dec 7 Evaluation Research; Ethics and Politics of Research


Read: Babbie, Chapters 18, 19


Dec 14 Final Exam