Show Menu

Methodology Cheat Sheet (DRAFT) by

A lot of useful information about the whole course of methodology and methods.

This is a draft cheat sheet. It is a work in progress and is not finished yet.

Theory and research

What is a theory?
Theory is logically connected set of general propos­itions that establ­ishes a connection between two or more variables. Theory - an explan­ation of a specific social phenomenon that identifies a set of causally relevant factors or condit­ions.
Four Parts of Social Theory
1. Assump­tions 2. Concepts. Vary by level of abstra­ction (concrete versus abstract), single versus concept clusters, simple versus complex (e.g., classi­fic­ations, typolo­gies), and scope (narrow versus broad) 3. Relati­ons­hips. Forms of relati­ons­hips, propos­itions, and hypotheses 4. Units of analysis
What is a parsimony?
The idea that simple is better; everything else being equal, a social theory that explains more with less complexity is better.
What is an ideolody?
A nonsci­entific quasi-­theory, often based on political values or faith with assump­tions, concepts, relati­onships among concepts, and explan­ations. It is a closed system that resists change, cannot be directly falsified with empirical data, and makes normative claims.

Four parts of social theory and their parts

An untested starting point or belief in a theory that is necessary in order to build a theore­tical explan­ation.
2 types of assumption
background assump­tion: It must exist for us to continue inquiry. “tract­able” assump­tions (i.e., they have traction and allow us to take an argument further).
Theore­tical concept.
An idea that is thought through, carefully defined, and made explicit in a theory
Level of abstra­ction of concepts
ranges from empirical and concrete, often easily observable in daily experi­ence, to very abstract, unseen mental creations
Concept cluster.
A collection of interr­elated concepts that share common assump­tions, refer to one another, and operate together in a social theory. (Cluster - a group of similar things or people positioned or occurring closely together
Concept classi­fic­ation
Simple concepts have only one dimension and vary along a single continuum. Complex concepts have multiple dimensions or many subparts.
Types of concepts
A theore­tical classi­fic­ation or quasi-­theory that is created by cross-­cla­ssi­fying or combining two or more simple concepts to form a set of interr­elated subtypes.
Scope of concepts
. Some are very narrow and apply only to specific social settings or activities or are restricted in time or place. We cannot easily use them beyond a particular setting. Other concepts are very broad. They apply to many diverse settings or activities across large expanses of time and space. Broad concepts tend to be more abstract than narrow ones.

Theory and research

Kinds of relati­onships
a theory may tell us whether a relati­onship is strong or weak, direct or indirect, positive or negative.
one concept accele­rates or decele­rat­es/­dim­inishes the other or that its impact is immediate or delayed.
Good theories indicate whether one concept is a necessary precon­dition for another concept or only sufficient.
Sometimes a theory states that one concept relates to another but only under certain conditions (these are called contingent relationships).
A theory also specifies the form of explan­ation in which a relati­onship operates.
Units of analysis
The units, cases, or parts of social life that are under consid­eration
Five major factors
1. Direction of theori­zing. Either deductive or inductive
2. Level of analysis. Either micro,­mac­ro,or meso 3. Theore­tical focus. Either substa­ntive or formal theory 4. Form of explan­ation. Either causal­,st­ruc­tural, or interp­ret­ative 5. Range of a theory. Either an empirical genera­liz­ation, a middle­-range theory, or a framework

Theory and research

Direction of theorizing
Level of Analysis
Micro-­level theory Social theory focusing on the micro level of social life that occurs over short durations (e.g., face-t­o-face intera­ctions and encounters among indivi­duals or small groups).
Macro-­level theory Social theory focusing on the macro level of social life (e.g., social instit­utions, major sectors of society, entire societies, or world regions) and processes that occur over long durations (many years, multiple decades, or a century or longer).
Meso-level theory Social theory focusing on the relations, processes, and structures at a midlevel of social life (e.g., organi­zat­ions, movements, and commun­ities) and events operating over moderate durations (many months, several years, or a decade).
Theore­tical Focus
Formal theory A type of theory that is general and applies across many specific topic areas.
Substa­ntive theory A type of theory that is specif­ically tailored to a particular topic area.
Forms of Explan­ation
theore­tical explan­ation (A logical argument or “story” that tells why something takes a specific form or occurs and does so by referring to more general ideas and abstract princi­ples)
Theore­tical framework A very general theore­tical system with assump­tions, concepts, and specific social theories.
Causal explan­ation A type of theore­tical explan­ation about why events occur and how things work expressed in terms of causes and effects or as one factor producing certain results.
Causal mechanism The part of a causal explan­ation that specifies the process by which the primary indepe­ndent variab­le(s) influence the primary dependent variab­le(s).