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Regular version of the site
Bachelor 2019/2020

Thinking Like a Social Scientist

Type: Elective course (Sociology)
Area of studies: Sociology
Delivered by: School of Sociology
When: 1 year, 4 module
Mode of studies: offline
Instructors: Olga E. Kuzina
Language: English
ECTS credits: 3

Course Syllabus

Abstract

Social Science Thinking and Research is an interdisciplinary course for first year undergraduate students of a bachelor program in Sociology. It is designed to engage students with academic analysis in social sciences by using pressing social issues for understanding the ways how different social sciences can shape our understanding of social phenomena. Lectures and classes will challenge students to confront different kinds of evidence, assess competing theoretical explanations, and evaluate their validity. For 2019-2020 academic year this course is going to be taught using distance-learning techniques (ZOOM platform for lectures and tutorials).
Learning Objectives

Learning Objectives

  • The course shows students the ways of thinking in social sciences and gives foundations for their later courses and research.
  • It aims to give students an understanding of what it is to think like a social scientist with specific focus on the issues of revealing causality, justification of research questions in quantitative and qualitative designs, data sources and presentation of results in academic research.
Expected Learning Outcomes

Expected Learning Outcomes

  • Evaluate and interpret evidence of different types, including documentary and other qualitative sources as well as statistical data.
  • Explain the respective roles of, and interaction between, questions, theories, evidence and explanations in the social sciences.
  • Identify and critically assess causal claims in social science explanations.
  • Analyse contemporary social problems using theoretical perspectives from more than one social science discipline.
  • Find and access information relevant to social science problems, making use of good searching principles and techniques.
  • Evaluate information sources, distinguishing scholarly sources from other content and critically assessing information from internet and other sources.
  • Construct coherent and persuasive arguments – both orally and in writing – on current issues in the social sciences, structuring the arguments logically and supporting them with relevant evidence.
  • Plan and deliver engaging and well-argued presentations that coherently address both question and audience.
Course Contents

Course Contents

  • Lecture 1. Understanding the causes of things - a multidisciplinary perspective
    The contexts of social research. Social research as a professional activity. The market for social research outputs. Multidisciplinary research and social sciences – demography, economics, sociology, political science, anthropology, psychology, history. Comparison of academic, business and government research. Research proposals.
  • Lecture 2. Models and Modelling in Social Research
    Research questions. Bibliography. Free and open-source reference management software to manage bibliographic data and related research materials (Zotero, Mendeley). Ontological and epistemological status of models. Models and research questions. Formulating hypotheses from research questions. Exploratory and confirmatory approaches to model building. The use of models in quantitative and qualitative social research. Concepts in social research: approaches to concept formation. Theory and concepts. Induction and deduction. Operationalising concepts.
  • Lecture 3-4. Qualitative and Quantitative Social Research
    The contexts of data collection. Sources of qualitative data: the interview, focus groups, participant observation and field work methods, documents. Sampling in qualitative social research: grounded theory and theoretical sampling. Analytic induction and qualitative classification analysis. Small N research and case studies: ‘thick’ description. Sources of quantitative data: the social survey, administrative and official statistics. Secondary analysis of survey data. Designing social surveys. Quasi-experimental designs. Units and levels of analysis. Graphics and visualising data. Primary and secondary data. Macro statistics and social surveys data bases: World DataBank, OECD.Stat, IMF Data, Eurostat, National Statistical Institutes, FRS, Rosstat, Bank of Russia, Passport (before — Global Market Information Database, GMID).
  • Lecture 5. Interpreting and Evaluating Social Research Results
    Selection and interpretation of research evidence. Critical thinking. Explanation and causal inference. Objectivity in quantitative and qualitative research. Peer-reviewing process. Academic free-speech and debate. Biases in the interpretation, use and presentation of scientific evidence by scientists and nonscientists. The components of a social research publication. Literature review.
  • Lecture 6. Poverty and Inequality
    Poverty Measurements and Trends. Poverty and inequality data. The economic geography of poverty. Trends in Educational Access and Achievement. Trends in Income Inequality. Trends in Social Mobility. Trends in Safety Net Use. Recession and Recovery Effects. Residential Segregation. Racial and Ethnic Income Inequalities. Discrimination, Poverty, and the Labor Market. Living Standards Measurement Study - Household Surveys (LSMS). Theories about the structure and legitimacy of inequality. The effects of social policy on poverty and inequality. Basic Income Debate.
  • Lecture 7. Globalisation and Cross-Cultural Research
    Conceptualising and measuring culture in surveys: organisational culture and individual values. Hofstede's Research on Cross-Cultural Work-Related Values. The model of national culture: Power Distance Index (PDI), Individualism versus Collectivism (IDV), Masculinity versus Femininity (MAS), Uncertainty Avoidance Index (UAI), Long Term Orientation versus Short Term Normative Orientation (LTO), Indulgence versus Restraint (IND). The world values survey. Inglehart–Welzel cultural map. How culture varies. Aspirations for democracy. Empowerment of citizens. Globalization and converging values. Gender values. Religion. Happiness and life satisfaction. The influence of cultural values on economic development.
  • Lecture 8. Behavioural economics
    Bounded rationality. Heuristics and biases. Prospect theory. Framing effect. Empirical psychological experiments. Nudging: examples of this type of regulation.
  • Lecture 9. Genetics and economics
    Genoeconomics. The heritability of economic outcomes. Direct measures of previously latent parameters. The biological mechanisms that underlie behaviors of interest. Genes as control variables and/or instrumental variables. Estimating Genetic Effects. Molecular Genetics and Economic. Nature or nurture: What determines investor behavior? Influences of nature and nurture on earnings variation. Genetic variation in financial decision making. Genetic variation in preferences for giving and risk-taking.
  • Lecture 10. What caused the financial crises?
    The role of financial markets in the crisis. Financialization and the role of shareholder value. Financial innovations: harmful or beneficial? Structural causes of the crisis. The role of macroeconomic models in financial forecasting. A comparative approach to macroeconomic modeling and policy analysis. The crisis in the banking sector and new regulatory proposals. Governance of monetary policy. Governance of fiscal policy. Where do we go from here: future challenges and policy recommendations. Financial literacy of consumers.
Assessment Elements

Assessment Elements

  • non-blocking Home assignment
  • non-blocking Presentation of a research paper
  • non-blocking class participation
Interim Assessment

Interim Assessment

  • Interim assessment (4 module)
    0.2 * class participation + 0.4 * Home assignment + 0.4 * Presentation of a research paper
Bibliography

Bibliography

Recommended Core Bibliography

  • Bryman, Alan. Quantity and Quality in Social Research, Routledge, 1988. Routledge, https://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/hselibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=168067.
  • Evolution or Revolution? : Rethinking Macroeconomic Policy after the Great Recession, edited by Olivier Blanchard, and Lawrence H. Summers, MIT Press, 2019. ProQuest Ebook Central, https://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/hselibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=5748875.
  • Framing the Global : Entry Points for Research, edited by Hilary E. Kahn, Indiana University Press, 2014. ProQuest Ebook Central, https://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/hselibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=1809827.
  • May, Tim. Social Research, McGraw-Hill Education, 2010. ProQuest Ebook Central, https://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/hselibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=729519.
  • The Handbook of Social Studies Research, edited by Meghan Manfra, and Cheryl Bolick, John Wiley & Sons, Incorporated, 2017. ProQuest Ebook Central, https://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/hselibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=4825480.

Recommended Additional Bibliography

  • Behavioural Economics and Policy Design : Examples from Singapore, edited by Donald Low, World Scientific Publishing Co Pte Ltd, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, https://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/hselibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=846102.
  • Cadogan, John, et al. Cross-cultural and cross-national consumer research, Emerald Publishing Limited, 2015. ProQuest Ebook Central, https://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/hselibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=2070198.
  • Cassata, Francesco. Building the Common Man : Eugenics, Racial Sciences and Genetics in Twentieth Century Italy, Central European University Press, 2010. ProQuest Ebook Central, https://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/hselibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=3137320.
  • Eichengreen, Barry. Hall of Mirrors : The Great Depression, the Great Recession, and the Uses-And Misuses-of History, Oxford University Press, Incorporated, 2015. ProQuest Ebook Central, https://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/hselibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=1826369.
  • Ogden, Jane. Thinking Critically about Research : A Step by Step Approach, Routledge, 2018. ProQuest Ebook Central, https://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/hselibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=5611407.
  • Oxford Handbook of Qualitative Research : Oxford Handbook of Qualitative Research, edited by Patricia Leavy, Oxford University Press, Incorporated, 2014. ProQuest Ebook Central, https://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/hselibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=1657789.
  • Patrinos, George P., et al. Economic Evaluation in Genomic Medicine, Elsevier Science & Technology, 2015. ProQuest Ebook Central, https://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/hselibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=1992706.
  • Poverty, Inequality, and Evaluation : Changing Perspectives, edited by Ray C. Rist, et al., World Bank Publications, 2015. ProQuest Ebook Central, https://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/hselibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=4397393.
  • Rethinking Social Inquiry : Diverse Tools, Shared Standards, edited by Henry E. Brady, and David Collier, Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2010. ProQuest Ebook Central, https://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/hselibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=662323.
  • Sociology : a global introduction, Macionis J. J., Plummer K., 2005
  • Statistics and Causality : Methods for Applied Empirical Research, edited by Wolfgang Wiedermann, and Eye, Alexander von, John Wiley & Sons, Incorporated, 2016. ProQuest Ebook Central, https://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/hselibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=4530803.
  • Sunstein, Cass R.. Why Nudge? : The Politics of Libertarian Paternalism, Yale University Press, 2014. ProQuest Ebook Central, https://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/hselibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=3421412.
  • Thiel, Markus. European Identity and Culture : Narratives of Transnational Belonging, edited by Rebecca Friedman, Routledge, 2016. ProQuest Ebook Central, https://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/hselibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=879691.
  • Thompson, John. Europe's Crises, edited by Manuel Castells, et al., Polity Press, 2018. ProQuest Ebook Central, https://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/hselibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=5188194.