Discuss your understanding of essential features of the field of study known as the ?????Social Sciences?? Highlight the key basic assumptions that are the foundation for the


  1. Discuss your understanding of essential features of the field of study known as “the      Social Sciences” 
  2. Highlight the key basic assumptions that are the foundation for the use of the      Scientific Method?

Each question is 500 words in APA format.

Textbook and materials are included. 

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Social Science and Its Methods

Chapter 1

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What is Social Science?

Scientific study of social, cultural, psychological, economic, political forces

Relatively new

Knowledge about nature, growth, functioning of human societies

Essential for learning about human condition and improving it

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Political Science


Types of Social Science

Applying the Scientific Method to Social Science


Define the problem

Review the literature

Observe some more

Develop theoretical framework, formulate hypothesis

Choose research design

Collect necessary data

Analyze results

Draw conclusions


The Social Scientist should always be ready to go back to recalibrate and re-test based upon feedback

Nature of Scientific Knowledge






Learning and applying concepts

Copyright © 2014, 2011 Pearson Education, Inc. All rights reserved


The History of (Scientific) Knowledge

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Methods of Social Scientists

Utilize scientific method

More complex than physical sciences –due to the “human dimension”

Controlled experiments difficult

Instead, social scientists:

Use careful observation

Use abstractions

Calculate effects

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Social Science vs. Natural Science

Primary difference:

Testing the hypothesis is a unique feature of the Social Sciences

This means that Social Scientists recognize that humans make choices that are not always rational, hence we test under various (controlled) scenarios, specifying parameters and assumptions

Natural Science deals with immutable “laws”. They test, but there is a limit to the potential for change – while humans change their decisions and resulting actions frequently

Copyright © 2014, 2011 Pearson Education, Inc. All rights reserved


Alternate Methods Used by Social Scientists


Tracing and analyzing historical events


Detailed examination/analysis of single issue

Can be limiting

Comparative/Cross cultural

Detailed studies of cultural patterns

Sometimes difficult to define terms

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Defining Common Sense

Common sense

What we “know” to be true …

Educated common sense

Rational thought based on observation and best information available

Does the earth circle the sun, or does the sun circle the earth?

How has the answer to this question changed?

Prior to The Enlightenment Age, it was thought and reinforced by religious institutions on pain of death that “The Earth is the center of the universe, therefore the Sun revolved around the Earth”. This was proven wrong by Copernicus in 1540 and others with their “three humiliations of human beings”

Can you identify the other 2? – They are:

we are all creatures of nature like other animals,

our reasoning ability is subject to passions and subconscious desires.



Best Practices

Social scientists should rely on:

Educated common sense

Quantitative data

Delphic method – modifying interpretations of QUALITATIVE data in response to feedback or transforming the data into quantitative “proxies”

Statistical analysis

Do not confuse correlation with causation

Use interdisciplinary approach

Copyright © 2014, 2011 Pearson Education, Inc. All rights reserved


Social Science and Society

Social sciences are:




Social scientists must always be open to new ways of looking at issues.

Modified from textbook.


Discussion Questions:

Discuss your understanding of essential features of the field of study known as the Social sciences

Highlight the key basic assumptions that are the foundation for the use of the Scientific Method?

Maximum: 500 words (excluding references)

Copyright © 2014, 2011 Pearson Education, Inc. All rights reserved





What is Social Science?

Social Science is the scientific study of social, cultural, psychological, economic, spatial and political forces that guide individuals in their actions.

Social Science is the name given to a system of knowledge; all knowledge of human beings, including their natural environment, cultural and products.

Scientific Knowledge is knowledge that has been systematically gathered, classified, related and interpreted. It is concerned with learning the concepts and applying those concepts to particulars, rather than just learning a vast amount of information.

In modern times emphasis are on the search for scientific knowledge. Human knowledge has been divided into a number of areas and fields, and every science represents the systematic collection and study of data in some of these areas which can be grouped roughly into two major fields: Social Science and Natural Science

1. Social science is the field of human knowledge that deals with all aspects of the group of life of human beings.

1. Natural Science is concerned with the natural environment in which human beings exist. It includes such sciences as physics and chemistry, which deal with the laws of matter, motion, space, mass, and energy: it also includes the biological sciences, which deal with living things.

1. The third field of study is the Humanities, which deals with literature, music, art and philosophy. The Humanities are closely related to social science in that both deal with human and their culture. Social Science however, is most concerned with those basic elements of culture that determine general patterns of human behavior.

No field of study is more important to human beings than the social sciences. To understand society, is to learn not only conditions that limit our lives but also the opportunity open to us for improving the human condition.

Social Science has been broken up into several fields, such as history, anthropology, sociology, geography, economics, political science, and psychology

1. Anthropology is the study of the relationship between biological traits and socially acquired characteristics; sometimes called the study of humans. It consists of two broad fields Physical anthropology and Cultural anthropology

1. Sociology is the systematic study of relationships among people. Sociologist assumes that behavior is influenced by people’s social, political occupational and intellectual groupings and by the particular setting in which they find themselves at one time or another.

1. Geography is the study of the natural environment and how it influences social and cultural development. Some of the concerns of geography are ecology, climate, resources accessibility and demography. Mapping and spatial analysis of areal differentiation on the earth’s surface is a crucial distinguishing characteristic of geography.

1. History is the study of past events, it is a social science in the sense that it is a systematic attempt to learn about and verify past events and to relate them to one another and to the present. Every event has a historical context within which we commonly say the event must be studied. The subject matter of history is everything that has already happened. Their study of history involves: identifying, classifying, arranging and patterning

1. Economics is the study of the ways in which men and women make a living — The most pressing problem faced by most human beings. It considers the social organization through which people satisfy their wants and needs (demand) for scarce goods and services (supply). It’s subject matter is often summarized as Production, Distribution, and Consumption.

1. Political Science is the study of social arrangements to maintain peace and order within a given society and geographical location/entity. It deals with government and its interest is Politics, Laws, Administration, Theory of the nature and functions of state and international relations.

7. Psychology is the study that deals with the mind and personality of the individual; it is a social science because humans are social creatures. It focuses on the individual and physical processes such as: Biological structure and Development and maturation

Cognitive Science: The Study of how the mind identifies problems, and how the mind solves those problems.

Scientific Method: A set of rules, how to establish rules that Social Scientists utilize.

Experimental Method: A method of separating out causal factors. It consists of running an experiment many times with only one variant. If the result of the experiment is different (or the same), that one variant is most likely the cause. (Note that this is still a probabilistic assessment because human CHOICE may be involved with no single/uniform response pattern can be predicted).

Paradigm: As a scientific theory and the core of belief that surround it. According to Kuhn, when a new idea emerges up to challenge the status-quo or previous orthodoxies, it can lead to a “paradigm shift”. Paradigm shifts are often “messy” process and sometimes persist for a long time. For example, Copernicus and his associates around 1540 AD, challenged the notion that the Earth is the center of the Universe as taught by the Church. His new paradigm was that the Earth revolves around the Sun, hence the Sun is the center of the universe. This led to significant societal turmoil as the paradigm was changed over a long period of time.

Research Program: Group of Scientists working on a particular problem

Social Scientist’s Research: Social Scientists must observe, classify, and analyze their facts, make generalizations and attempt to develop and test hypotheses to explain their generalization. It is difficult to have exact laws that govern social life. Human behavior is hard to predict.

Scientific Method

1. Social science begins with “observation” of the way people (humans/society) look at the real world (or even their imaginations/perceptions of the world—i.e. their ‘worldview’)

1. Defining the problem “Topic” or subject matter

1. Review the Literature “Relevant literature” what has been covered in prior studies

1. Observing some more. After you have defined your problem and reviewed the literature, your observation will be sharper.

1. Developing a theoretical framework and formulating a hypothesis, which is to prove your point

1. Choosing a research design

1. Pick a means of gathering data – a survey, an experiment, an observational study.

1. Analyzing the results

1. When all the data are received, classify facts, identify trends, recognize relationships, and tabulate the information so that it can be accurately analyzed and interpreted.

1. Drawing conclusions

1. Now you can prepare a report, summarizing the steps you’ve followed and discussing what you’ve found.

1. We must recognize that there could Alternative Approaches: The approach one takes when analyzing a problem reflects one’s worldview- the lens through which one see the world. Worldview is a function of background, culture, education, etc …

Four approaches that Social Scientist uses are:

1. The functionalist theory approach. The interconnectedness of social life and the difficulty of affecting only one part of society with a policy.

1. The exchange theory approach. This approach emphasizes the voluntary exchanges of individuals as reflecting individual’s choices. E.g.: What do societies value the most? Harmony, Love, war/peace, education, food, music, etc.

1. The conflict theory approach. The tension that exists in society between competing groups or classes.

1. The symbolic interaction theory approach. Followers of this approach see reality as reflecting less what people do and more what they think and feel. Their motives and perception rather than actions are emphasized.

Alternative Methods

In addition to using different approaches, social scientists also use different methods. These include the historical method, the case method and the comparative and cross-cultural methods.

1. The historical method. Tracing the principal past developments that seem to have been directly significant in bringing about a social situation such as collecting birth and marriage certificates and classifying those data.

1. The case method. The case study method can involve making a detailed examination and analysis of a particular issue or problem situation. It can be an individual, town or countries.

1. The comparative and cross-cultural methods. This method was initiated in the hope of discovering evolutionary sequences in the development of human institutions- that is patterns of social development or progress that would be universal.

1. The cross-cultural method. This method consists of making detailed studies of the cultural patterns of a number of societies for the purpose of comparing the different ways in which their people meet similar needs.

Educated common sense: Rational thought, based on observation and the best information available.

Correlation: It is the relationship between two sets of data.

Statistics: Information in numerical form that has been assembled and classified.

Survey: A method whereby data is collected from individuals or institutions by means of questionnaires or interviews.

Interdisciplinary approach: Means that a group of social scientists with different specialties will work together on certain problems, not all of whose aspects any one of the group fully understands, and they thereby learn from each other.


POWER AND SOCIETY An Introduction to the Social Sciences


Brigid Callahan Harrison Montclair State University

Australia • Brazil • Japan • Korea • Mexico • Singapore • Spain • United Kingdom • United States

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© 2011, 2008, 2005 Wadsworth, Cengage Learning

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Preface xi

PART I The Nature and Study of Power 3

CHAPTER 1 POWER, SOCIETY, AND SOCIAL SCIENCE 4 The Nature of Power 4 Power and the Social Sciences 9 Social Sciences and Social Problems 13

ABOUT THIS CHAPTER 16 ON THE WEB: Exploring Power and Society 17 REVIEW QUIZ 17

CHAPTER 2 SOCIAL SCIENCES AND THE SCIENTIFIC METHOD 19 Science and the Scientifi c Method 19

Focus: The Vocabulary of Social Science 20

Controversies in Social Science: Can Social Science Be Scientifi c? 24 The Classic Scientifi c Research Design 26

Case Study: An Experiment in Preventing Underage Drinking 27 Gathering Data: Survey Research 28

Focus: The Death Penalty: A Hot-Button Issue 32 ABOUT THIS CHAPTER 38 ON THE WEB: Exploring the Social Sciences 38 REVIEW QUIZ 39

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iv Contents

CHAPTER 3 POWER AND IDEOLOGY 41 The Power of Ideas 41 Classical Liberalism: The Least Government Is the Best Government 42 Modern Liberalism: Government Power to “Do Good” 44

Focus: Selected Direct Quotations from Ideologies 46 Modern Conservatism: Individualism and Traditional Values 47

Focus: How to Tell If You’re Liberal or Conservative 49 Fascism: The Supremacy of Race or Nation 52 Socialism: Government Ownership, Central Planning 57

Case Study: The Rise and Fall of Communism in Russia 58 Why Communism Collapsed 61

ABOUT THIS CHAPTER 63 ON THE WEB: Exploring Ideologies 63 REVIEW QUIZ 64

PART II Power and the Social Sciences 67

CHAPTER 4 POWER AND CULTURE: AN ANTHROPOLOGIST’S VIEW 68 The Origins of Power 68 Culture: Ways of Life 70 The Components of Culture 71 The Nature of Culture 75

Controversies in Social Science: The World’s Missing Girls 78 Authority in the Family 80

Focus: Social Science Looks at Sex in America 82

International Perspective: Women in the Workforce 85 Power and Gender 88

Focus: Marriage: American Style 90 Power and Political Systems 91

Case Study: The Penan Tribe of Malaysia 93

Focus: Power and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia 94 Power and Society: Some Anthropological Observations 96

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Contents v

ABOUT THIS CHAPTER 97 ON THE WEB: Exploring Anthropology 97 REVIEW QUIZ 98

CHAPTER 5 POWER AND SOCIOLOGY: THE IMPORTANCE OF SOCIAL CLASS 99 Power Relations and Social Stratifi cation 99 Stratifi cation in American Society 100 Sociology and the Study of Social Classes 104 Inequality in America 108 Social Mobility: The Ups and Downs 111 Class as a Determinant of Lifestyle 113

International Perspective: Global Inequalities 116 Social Classes: Confl ict and Conciliation 118 Social Class and Political Power 120


CHAPTER 6 POWER AND HISTORY 125 History and Social Science 125 History and the American Experience 126 The Rise of Western Elites 127

Controversies in Social Science: Charles Beard and the Economic Interests of the Founders 128

The Civil War and Elite Division 131 Power in the Post–Civil War Era 134 Power and the Industrial Revolution 139 The New Deal and the Emergence of the “Liberal Establishment” 140

Case Study: The Vietnam War: A Political History 142 ABOUT THIS CHAPTER 146 ON THE WEB: Exploring History 146 REVIEW QUIZ 147

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vi Contents

CHAPTER 7 POWER AND POLITICS 149 Politics, Political Science, and Government Power 149 The Meaning of Democracy 150 Power and the American Constitution 153

Controversies in Social Science: Direct Democracy versus Representative Democracy 158 Federalism and the Growth of Power in the Federal Government 160 Federalism Today 163 Power and the Branches of the Federal Government 164

Focus: Rating the Presidents 166

Focus: Explaining Presidential Approval Ratings 168 The Powers of Congress 175 The Power of the Courts 179 Power and Political Behavior in the United States 182 Political Parties in the United States 185

Focus: Media Power: The Presidential Debates 188 Power and American Government 191

ABOUT THIS CHAPTER 192 ON THE WEB: Exploring Government and Politics 192 REVIEW QUIZ 193

CHAPTER 8 POWER AND THE ECONOMY 195 Power and Economic Organization 195 The Market System, Hard Boiled and Impersonal 196 Supply, Demand, and the Market Price 199

Focus: Interest Rates and You 201 Government in a Free-Market Economy 202 Economic Theories That Inform Economic Policy 203

Case Study: Achieving Economic Stability 205 The Contemporary American Economy 210 Measuring America’s Wealth 213 Government Debt, Defi cits, and Surpluses 219

International Perspective: A Look at Government Debt 220 The Concentration of Economic Power 222

Focus: The Concentration of Corporate Power 224

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Contents vii

The Globalization of Economic Power 226

International Perspective: The Multinationals’ Global Economic Power 228 ABOUT THIS CHAPTER 231 ON THE WEB: Exploring Economics 232 REVIEW QUIZ 233

CHAPTER 9 POWER AND PSYCHOLOGY 235 Personality and Individual Responses to Power 235 Our Genetic Code 237

Focus: DNA as a Genealogical Tool 238

Focus: DNA: Blueprint to Life 240 Nurture and Human Development 241 Approaches to Psychology and Personality 242

Focus: Inside the Brain 243

Focus: Evolutionary Psychology: The Mating Game 246 Behaviorism and Learning Theory 249 Treating Mental Illness 256

International Perspective: Looking at Stress Worldwide 257

Case Study: Diagnosing Mental Illness 258

Focus: Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: Not Just a Soldier’s Disease 262 Powerlessness and Mental Health 264

ABOUT THIS CHAPTER 265 ON THE WEB: Exploring Psychology 265 REVIEW QUIZ 266

PART III The Uses of Power 269

CHAPTER 10 POWER, RACE, AND GENDER 270 Racism in American History 270 The Civil Rights Movement 272

Focus: Martin Luther King Jr. and the Power of Protest 274

Controversies in Social Science: Affi rmative Action and the Constitution 278 Immigration to America 283 Native Americans: An Historical Overview 288






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