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Regular version of the site

Social Science Thinking and Research

Type: Optional course (faculty)
When: 3, 4 module
Instructors: Olga E. Kuzina
Language: English
ECTS credits: 3

Course Syllabus


Social Science Thinking and Research is an interdisciplinary course. 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.
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

  • Find and access information relevant to social science problems, making use of good searching principles and techniques.
  • Analyse contemporary social problems using theoretical perspectives from more than one social science discipline.
  • 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.
  • Evaluate and interpret evidence of different types, including documentary and other qualitative sources as well as statistical data.
  • Evaluate information sources, distinguishing scholarly sources from other content and critically assessing information from internet and other sources.
  • 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.
  • Plan and deliver engaging and well-argued presentations that coherently address both question and audience.
Course Contents

Course Contents

  • Understanding the causes of things - a multidisciplinary perspective to analysis of complex events
    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, anthropology, psychology, history. Comparison of academic, business and government research. Developing research proposals.
  • Models and Modelling in Social Research
    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.
  • 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).
  • Interpreting and Evaluating Social Research Results
    Selection and interpretation of research evidence. 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 and bibliography. Free and open-source reference management software to manage bibliographic data and related research materials (Zotero, Mendeley).
  • 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. Minimum Wage Debate.
  • 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.
  • Behavior 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.
  • What caused the financial crises?
    The role of financial markets in the crisis. Financialisation 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 individual in-class presentation
  • non-blocking home assignment
  • non-blocking class participation
  • non-blocking exam
    Экзамен проводится в письменной форме с использованием асинхронного прокторинга. Экзамен проводится на платформе https://hse.student.examus.net). К экзамену необходимо подключиться за 10 минут до начала. Проверку настроек компьютера необходимо провести заранее, чтобы в случае возникших проблем у вас было время для обращения в службу техподдержки и устранения неполадок. Компьютер студента должен удовлетворять требованиям: 1. Стационарный компьютер или ноутбук (мобильные устройства не поддерживаются); 2. Операционная система Windows (версии 7, 8, 8.1, 10) или Mac OS X Yosemite 10.10 и выше; 3. Интернет-браузер Google Chrome последней на момент сдачи экзамена версии (для проверки и обновления версии браузера используйте ссылку chrome://help/); 4. Наличие исправной и включенной веб-камеры (включая встроенные в ноутбуки); 5. Наличие исправного и включенного микрофона (включая встроенные в ноутбуки); 6. Наличие постоянного интернет-соединения со скоростью передачи данных от пользователя не ниже 1 Мбит/сек; 7. Ваш компьютер должен успешно проходить проверку. Проверка доступна только после авторизации. Для доступа к экзамену требуется документ удостоверяющий личность. Его в развернутом виде необходимо будет сфотографировать на камеру после входа на платформу «Экзамус». Также вы должны медленно и плавно продемонстрировать на камеру рабочее место и помещение, в котором Вы пишете экзамен, а также чистые листы для написания экзамена (с двух сторон). Это необходимо для получения чёткого изображения. Во время экзамена запрещается пользоваться любыми материалами (в бумажном / электронном виде), использовать телефон или любые другие устройства (любые функции), открывать на экране посторонние вкладки. В случае выявления факта неприемлемого поведения на экзамене (например, списывание) результат экзамена будет аннулирован, а к студенту будут применены предусмотренные нормативными документами меры дисциплинарного характера вплоть до исключения из НИУ ВШЭ. Если возникают ситуации, когда студент внезапно отключается по любым причинам (камера отключилась, компьютер выключился и др.) или отходит от своего рабочего места на какое-то время, или студент показал неожиданно высокий результат, или будут обнаружены подозрительные действия во время экзамена, будет просмотрена видеозапись выполнения экзамена этим студентом и при необходимости студент будет приглашен на онлайн-собеседование с преподавателем. Об этом студент будет проинформирован заранее в индивидуальном порядке. Во время выполнения задания, не завершайте Интернет-соединения и не отключайте камеры и микрофона. Во время экзамена ведется аудио- и видео-запись. Процедура пересдачи проводится в соотвествии с нормативными документами НИУ ВШЭ.
Interim Assessment

Interim Assessment

  • Interim assessment (4 module)
    0.2 * class participation + 0.4 * home assignment + 0.4 * individual in-class presentation


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.
  • 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.

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, B. (2016). Hall of Mirrors: The Great Depression, the Great Recession, and the Uses-and Misuses-of History. Oxford University Press.
  • Leavy, P. (2014). The Oxford Handbook of Qualitative Research. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=779511
  • Macionis, J. J. (2012). Sociology : a global introduction. Turkey, Europe: Pearson Prentice Hall. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsbas&AN=edsbas.5C1FB862
  • 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.
  • 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.