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In one of your readings, Joel Charon discusses generalizations and offers a summary of one type of generalizations – a stereotype, describing it as a judgmental, categorical statement that tends to emphasize one characteristic over others despite evidence to the contrary. In his reading on the craft of inquiry, Robert Alford discusses some canonical sociological works and highlights the connections that exist between theory and research, particularly the research question. For this post, pick your 'favorite' stereotype, discuss how a stereotype could be converted into a research question and offer some thoughts on how you would design a sociological study to answer your research question. I’ll give you a not-so-serious example. Let’s say I want to examine a stereotypical statement that asserts that “blonds are dumb.” I would need to craft a research question that would pose an actual answerable question, like “are blond women less intelligent than non-blonds”? I would also need to offer a strategy for how I would go about answering that question. For instance, a researcher could administer a questionnaire to a representative sample of women (with all hair colors) that would ask specific questions that measure intelligence and compare the answers to see if there is any correlation of hair color and scoring high or low on such question. Or, a researcher could obtain SAT scores or grades for women at a local college and correlate it to their hair color to see if there is a relationship. There are multiple ways to design a sociological study to answer a research question and I want you to be as creative as you can in demonstrating how a stereotype can be turned into question that can actually be tested. And while I would like for you to be realistic in proposing a study design (don’t propose genetic testing of blond embryos!), assume you have ample access to populations and generous resources to design observations or experiments.
In one of your readings, Joel Charon discusses generalizations and offers a summary of one type of generalizations – a stereotype, describing it as a judgmental, categorical statement that tends to emphasize one characteristic over others despite evidence to the contrary.