As sociologist, we conduct research in order to help answer some questions that we have about society. But what steps do sociologists take during a research project? For this blog post, we will be explaining the process of deduction. Let’s use examples that relate to the Tiny Children’s Garden.
The first step in the process of deduction is finding a theory. Symbolic Interaction is a theory developed by Mead that says the behaviors of individuals is a social process. So people’s behaviors can change based on how they interact with things in society (Reitzes, 1992).
So now that we have a theory we can form a hypothesis. A hypothesis is a question that you can test how things react. For the Tiny Children’s Garden, we are predicting that by building an accessible garden community we think there will be an increase in community involvement in environmental participation. In other words, we think that the community of Washington Park will come in use and learn from the garden if we build it.
The next step in the process is Data Collection. When setting up a research project there are two types of research, Quantitative and Qualitative. Quantitative is data that can be counted or measured. If we were to apply this to the Tiny Children’s Garden we could count how many people come to the garden and measure how participation in the garden increases or decreases. Qualitative is data that is descriptive. If we were to measure the Tiny Children’s Garden qualitatively we would ask people of Washington Park their opinion of the garden being built. Our data would then be recording whether people liked having the garden built or didn’t like it being built.
After we have collected our data we can report our findings. If we decided to measure the data quantitatively our findings would be the number of people who came to the garden. If we decided to measure the data qualitatively then our findings would be the opinions people had on the garden being built.
From our findings, we can determine if our hypothesis was correct. Since our hypothesis was “we think that there will be an increase in community participation in sustainability if we build a garden”. So if our findings from the data showed that there was an increase in people to the garden, or if we found that when we asked people they said they really liked the garden, then our hypothesis would be supported. But if nobody comes to the garden after it is built or when we ask people about the garden they say they don’t like it then our hypothesis would not be supported.
Lastly, we have the revision of the theory. At the beginning of this process, we based our project on the Symbolic Interaction theory. This theory says that people’s behavior will change with how they interact with things in society (Reitzes, 1992). If our hypothesis was not supported that would mean this theory does not work for this project and we would have to look to a new theory.
That is the process of deduction when conducting a research project. Now that you know the process of deduction …
How would you set up a research project?
Do you think our hypothesis will be supported? Do you think people’s participation in sustainability will increase if a garden is built?
What else could we add to this project that could support our hypothesis? What could we add to the garden that could help increase community involvement?
Reitzes, D. C., & Reitzes, D. C. 1992. “Saul D. Alinsky: An Applied Urban Symbolic Interactionist.” Symbolic Interaction, 15(1): 1–24.