Week 2

In light of recent events, regarding the election of Trump and the rise of Nazis, I can see quite a few issues that can arise when social researchers are trying to understand social phenomena.

First off, I think that we run into the issue of confirmation bias. When you’re gearing up to research something that interests you, it’s no question that there is a rather large chance of bias that could influence the work produced. However, then there’s also the issue of trying to come up with something to research if it isn’t something that interests you. For me personally, I want to research the sociology of higher education more in depth. However, my research could be biased depending on how it’s conducted. I could instead research racial relations at inner city areas around the United States, but that doesn’t interest me so that research could end up being tainted as well from apathy.

Secondly, there is the issue of choosing a paradigm to work with. As exemplified in the readings, one issue can be analyzed from multiple different points of view. When it comes to research, this could make methodologies complicated due to people seeing things one way and someone else seeing it another. Of course, this is the same issue that’s run into with any sort of argument. However, when it comes to research we need to understand that simply because a person did research in this one frame of mind doesn’t necessarily negate another one.

Of course, my opinions are small and are probably already dealt with in the research community. As Dr. Honnold stated, we don’t fully understand the nuances of social research just quite yet. However, our little understanding doesn’t mean that we can’t see some issues as begin to learn more. Social research will never be perfect, due to the fact that people are continuously changing their patterns and disrupting the norms. There’s also the fact that researchers are also human beings. Simply because we earn the title of “researcher” does not absolve us of being free from the very issues, biases, problems, etc., that we study. It does mean however, that we must remain cognizant of our stakes and investments in our research. We have to remain vigilant in our methods and analysis, in order to make sure we don’t allow ourselves to make our data work for us. The data are what they are. We can not twist it to fit our wants and needs.

2 thoughts on “Week 2”

  1. I was very interested to see your discussion of confirmation bias and apathy as both possibly influencing research conclusions. I’d like to add another possibility – outright hostility to the research premises. The EPA under the Trump administration comes to my mind in this regard. If Trump doesn’t issue an outright ban research on by the EPA, he could influence its conclusions. Here’s a link to a discussion of a similar occurrences during the Bush administration: http://www.ucsusa.org/our-work/center-science-and-democracy/promoting-scientific-integrity/mercury-emissions.html. Social science research is more susceptible to biases and political manipulation than “hard” science research, but even that can be subject to influence (or outright suppression).

  2. I think confirmation bias as very important in politics, especially as conservatives or liberals hold up findings from their corresponding think tanks as solid “evidence.” In academia, this inclination is presumably more subtle or hopefully eliminated through peer review. Interesting thoughts!

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