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Social Science Theory and Methodology Essay


Introduction

The social sciences are distinct because of their focus on the human being as their area of concern. This means that although certain principles can be borrowed from the sciences, it is not always possible to apply the scientific methods without certain modifications.

Significance of a suitable question which you have formulated for social scientific analysis

The question chosen for analysis is “How do violent video games affect family members’ perceptions of teenagers?”This question will be particularly important to society because it might provide an explanation for increased separation of the youth from their families. In this age of information technology, computer games have become very common and the family unit would benefit greatly if they found out whether exposure to violence and nudity in these computer games could actually lead to antisocial behavior in their lives.

Society could be nabbing a problem by the bud by dealing with a potential root cause of antisocial behavior. On the other hand, if the research reveals that families only consider positive results such as better hand and eye coordination or quicker brain responses then families are likely to encourage their children to keep playing these games because they encourage development. Games by their very nature are abstract activities and it will be informative to determine whether the abstract tasks would encourage youth to act out what they see and do. The research will therefore give an important indicator of identity formation amongst the youth and hence society. This social scientific question deals with social identity and the social phenomena of media usage. In this case, the media platform under analysis is violent video games. It will seek to evaluate the phenomenon by looking at its effects on human behavior (Perry and Perry, 2009).

Research problems that will help answer the social scientific question

  1. How will data be collected on family member’s experiences with teenagers who play violent video games?
  2. How will data be collected on opinions of family members concerning teenagers who play violent video games?
  3. How will data be collected on actual family interactions between family members and teenagers who play violent video games?

The first social scientific question will be solved through the use of in depth interviews. Here, the major aim will be to determine the kind of history that teenagers who play violent video games have with their other family members and how those experiences have been translated by them. The second research question will involve the use of focus groups. Such a method is preferable because it allows for collection of broad views on the subject matter. Some things that qualify as societal norms can be easily collected using such a method. Issues of opinion can be easily revealed through such a method. The third research question will be solved through the use of participant observation. Since the data being collected concerns behavior then it would be best to do this when the subjects are in their natural settings (Perry and Perry, 2009).

Social scientific analysis required

This research is basically qualitative research and it will result in very rich and subjective data. Consequently, the major aim of the research after collection of this data will be to arrange it in terms of certain patterns and themes. In other words, thematic analysis will be done for all data(Perry and Perry, 2009).

For data collected through the use of focus groups (Data answering research problem 2). It will be critical to first code the information. Information will be coded according to the most repeated themes and also by the frequency of consensus amongst the participants. The following will be the coding strategy for focus data: it will be labeled, it will contain definitions of what the themes means, it will contain an illustration of how to tell when the them has occurred and any exclusions to the theme. After the data has been coded, it will then be reported. This will be done through a schematic drawing that will be guided by the research question “What are the opinions of family members concerning teenagers who play violent video games?”

The first research question (data collected through the use of in depth interviews) will be analyzed through similar process as the focus group. However, in this case because every participant will give their own data, then cross case analysis will be used where all the responses will be put together and then codified and reported using the processes mentioned above.

Lastly, data collected through the use of participant observation will be analyzed individually. In other words, all the notes and observations made during the separate cases will be codified. However codification in this case will be done based on grounded theory because all observations must be based on this. Lastly, the information will presented through the use of conceptual frameworks as determined during the case analysis.

Whether the scientific method can be applied to the research question chosen above The scientific method; how it is understood in the natural sciences

A scientific method is made of three major steps which include, creation of hypotheses, experimentation and finally collection of data. In other words, a scientific research must be one that bases its inquiry on empirical and measurable evidence that is founded on certain principles of reasoning.

A number of characteristics are unique to the scientific method as compared to other methods of inquiry. First, one must have a working hypothesis (Perry and Perry, 2009). This can either be pre existent or it may have to be created by the respective individual. Thereafter, one should be able to carry out tests designed to test this formulated hypothesis. The tests used in scientific methods need to be repeatable and should be able to determine results.

It should be noted that when a series of hypotheses are put together then this can result in the formation of a theory if a wide form of inquiry is being considered. The scientific method also gives a lot of precedence to objectivity. In the natural or physical sciences, there are no considerations for context because it is assumed that this leads to inconsistency. In fact, this is the reason why most scientific experiments or tests are carried out in very controlled conditions so as to eliminate any interfering factors. Because of the need to ensure predictability in results, it is often imperative to subject scientific work to peer review.

In physics, biology or chemistry, scientists will often be required to go through this process because these are experimentally based sciences and often hypothesis based. However, one should not assume that just because the sciences are based on various standards and theories then there is no room for creativity. The scientific method requires utmost intelligence and creativity and therefore should not be mistaken to be a rigid set of rules that cannot be altered. In fact, new and better ways of understanding old theories are frequently being created in order to refine older theories.

When following the scientific method, an individual usually does an operation. In other words, the system under analysis is usually altered by changing some aspect of it. The scientist must then observe that system after the operation. The third step is creation of a model. Here, after a hypothesis is created then a phenomenon is then analyzed. The last step is the utility function where the model created is then measured for its usefulness. At this point, one should be able to explain, control or to predict patterns using the model. Here, issues such as refutability or simplicity are examined because the model should not be too complicated to use or should not be refuted by parties.

Comparison of the research methods required in the formulated question with the scientific method as seen in the natural sciences

In earlier sections of the paper, the research methods required are those ones which do not have a predefined set of answers. This is because the matter under analysis is too sensitive to have predefined solutions. Also, the kind of answers that could come from such a research may be so diverse. Therefore predefining answers would seriously hamper the possibility of getting accurate results. In the natural sciences, the scientific method would require hypotheses that would have to be tested through the research methods (Perry and Perry, 2009). This is clearly not possible in this case.

The nature of the research question is also such that it is culturally specific. In other words, the opinions, behaviors and the values that are related to teenagers who play violent video games and their families are very contextual. Furthermore, one cannot quantify most of the factors that determine perceptions of family members. Therefore, one must use a research method that focuses on the human aspect hence the reason why in depth interviews, focus groups and participant observations were chosen. The natural sciences often focus on collection of data which can be generalized to the rest of the population. However, the most important issue in this research is not generalizability; it is unraveling and gaining insights on a social phenomenon which is violent video games.

Therefore, the scientific method would differ from the methods used in this research because the nature of objectives to be analyzed, the questions that are opposed by those objectives. Furthermore, methods of data collection would also be more structured and easily quantifiable since measurement is given utmost consideration. Lastly, the kind of flexibility allowed in the study design is very different in this social scientific inquiry compared to what the scientific method endorses.

Whether a social science perspective must rely on the scientific method in the same way that the natural or physical sciences would

The natural sciences rely heavily on the scientific method because hypothesis creation and hypothesis testing or experimentation can be done relatively easily. In these types of sciences, one can easily isolate a subsystem from the other subsystems and this makes it possible to differentiate outputs from inputs or to take measurements. The social sciences cannot just borrow such methodology owing to the fact that the subject matter or the system under analysis is the human being. It is extremely difficult for one to come up with hypotheses for the human being because this is a very complicated subject.

It is very difficult to take measurements quantitatively when one does not fully understand the qualitative dimensions of the phenomenon under analysis. Unlike most physical systems, the brain cannot be subdivided and changes introduced to it discretely. The human being is such that he is a product of his surrounding so in order to understand the motivations behind humans, one needs to look at context. This is the reason why objectivity might be rather difficult to establish and it would just be better to study the subject together with his respective environment.

Conclusion

The research questions under analysis are more qualitative in nature and would therefore not be properly studied if the scientific method as understood in the natural sciences were to be directly applied.

Reference

Perry, J. & Perry E. (2009). Contemporary society: An introduction to social science. Boston, MA: Pearson.

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IvyPanda. 2020. "Social Science Theory and Methodology." July 10, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/social-science-theory-and-methodology/.

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IvyPanda. (2020) 'Social Science Theory and Methodology'. 10 July.

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