Natural and physical sciences have been considered older disciplines than social science. As such, speculations are that methodologies used in social science in many ways either overlap or have been remodeled for the purposes of interpreting social phenomenon. However, the argument has always pertained to determining the extent a social scientific perspective relies on methods drawn from the physical and natural sciences. In the following pages of this document the writer will conduct an evaluation by implicitly formulating a social scientific question; explaining its significance from a social scientific perspective; analyzing three specific research problems which can emerge from this question; providing a complete framework for investigating the phenomenon and incorporating available physical and natural science methodologies into the projected social scientific perspective.
While it is the writer’s broad objective to analyze social phenomenon through scientific modalities, it would be important as a pre-requite that an understanding of what constitutes, ‘thinking in a social scientific way’ be operationalized for the purposes of this discussion. Scientists have described social sciences as the study of society. It embraces the study of law; anthropology; economics; education; geography; history; linguistics; political science; public administration; psychology and sociology (Perry & Perry, 2008).
Social research with the applications of specific methodologies implicit in theoretical assumptions, distinguishes social science from natural and physical sciences. Natural and physical sciences are distinct terminologies utilized in the scientific world to create a distinction between study of society and the study of matter; human conditions and social patterns. Hence, it encompasses the study of astronomy; biology; chemistry; physics; atmospheric science; oceanography and material science (Ledoux, 2002).
Therefore, ‘thinking in a social scientific way’ is adapting a method of understanding the organization; function and development of society based on theoretical assumptions espoused by studies utilizing social science methodologies of interpreting social phenomenon.
Formulating the Social Scientific Question
Any research project begins with a research question and it is most important when conducting social scientific studies that research questions be designed to focus the investigation. Certainly, the question posed must emerge from some underlying concerns which ought to be addressed from the study. As such, there are guidelines towards developing social scientific questions.
They encompass asking questions and answering them before arriving at the substantive question. There are about ten suggested applicable prescreening questions which should be asked before the substantive social scientific one is drafted. They include how well the researcher is acquainted with the field of study to be embarked upon; what important questions have already been researched and the areas which need to be further explored; would the answer to this question influence enhancement towards the body of knowledge now existing on the issue (Perry & Perry, 2008).
Further questions point towards how much research was previously conducted on the phenomenon; is it timely; would it interest funding agencies; is it a service based or community evaluated project and how impacting would the study be in the sciences (Perry & Perry, 2008).
Based on the proceeding evaluation, this researcher has developed the question; ‘what can be done to reduce the 75% prison return rate among African American males?’
Significance of the Social Scientific Question
Michelle Alexander ( 2010) writing in her book ‘The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration of the Age of Colorblindness’ outlines the tragedy of a wide cross section of African American males who spend their lives in the American prisons. Every year large sums of national budget are extended towards building larger and larger prisons to accommodate them. The deepest concern expressed was that this out numbers the amount of black men who were enslaved in 1850. Besides, America leads the world in producing prisoners. Alarmingly, 95 % of those imprisoned are released every year, but 75% return (Alexander, 2010).
Analysis of three specific research problems
Selecting and defining the topic
The research problem selected for analysis is an investigation into the alarming 75% return prison rate of African American men. Combining selection with definition is the recognition of related concepts which validate assumptions and measure key terms arising form the problem. These include African American male and 75% prison return rate.
Precisely, the aim of this study being identified within the definition would be first to establish the relationship between the two variables, African American male and 75% return prison rate, then define the within the context of this study.
Reviewing the literature
Strength of excellent research techniques lies in the ability to review compilation of data retrieved from previous investigations conducted by other scientists in the field. This is done to provide a foundation whereby the researcher can dispute, agree or formulate a new body of knowledge. The issue of African American men 75% returns prison rate will be supported by evidence retrieved through thorough elevation of documents on the topic.
Formulating the hypothesis and developing a research design
A clearly stated hypothesis pertaining to the topic under investigation could read, education relating values favorable to abiding by rules of a civil society can reduce the 75% prison return rate of African American males. Within these boundaries pertaining to a possible resolution a research design could be developed.
A typical research design for this hypothesis is a survey incorporating samples of inmates who have been released and return with a control group soliciting opinion from 25% who did not return. Data obtained could then be assessed utilizing a combination of qualitative and quantitative analysis. An exposition model for interpretation statistics derived from quantitative analysis can be adapted.
Framework for investigating the phenomenon
The framework for conducting such a study could be theoretical or conceptual. In adopting a theoretical framework it would be necessary to relate 75% prison return rate to theories of deviance, labeling or even symbolic interactionism. An eclectic paradigm could be used. In taking the conceptual approach the concepts ‘African American males’ and 75% prison return rates’ could be statistical measured after being operationalized for interpretation based on data retrieved.
Incorporating natural /physical science methodologies into
A social scientific perspective
Natural/ physical methodologies include experiments and case studies of an observational nature. They are all identifiable within the natural science framework.Importantly, they constitute selecting and defining the topic; reviewing literature; formulating the hypothesis and developing the research design.
Selecting and defining the problem
In the same way a topic is selected and defined in the social sciences natural scientists must select research material from subject of interest or relevance towards enriching the body of knowledge within the specific area.
Reviewing the literature
The issue investigated in this presentation overlaps as being directly related to a human condition and can therefore, be researched from a natural science perspective, also. The difference lies in establishing the extent to which the behavior measured can be predicted as private, meaning personal thinking or thinking out loud ( group influence behavior) (Catania, 2002) As such, a literature review must add information for scrutiny leaning more towards interpretation of a human condition nature of the problem instead of a group analysis behavior.
Formulating the hypothesis and developing a research design
Designing hypotheses in natural science requires that the researcher first observes the condition. In social science the researcher states the hypothesis from review of literature or tentative observations; conducts the research, then employs statistical equations to validate or invalidate the null hypothesis.
When natural sciences approaches are adapted hypotheses are formulated after observing a human condition or a social pattern and measuring outcomes (Catania, 2002). Consequently, in designing the hypothetical predictions for preventing 75% return prison rate of African American men this would be done after some experiments were observed and measured. Most often the research design would consists of experiments or case studies for prolonged periods of time with applications of extensive qualitative explanation of data.
Conclusively, a natural scientific research methodology is relevant to this study since it measures an emerging conduct involving both thinking out loud (demonstrated group behavior) and private thinking (derived from personal contemplation). Qualitative and quantitative approaches can be adopted with great benefit in the same way it is used in social science.
Importantly, the extent to which a measured behavior can be predicted as private, meaning personal thinking or thinking out loud (group demonstrated behavior) (Catania, 2002) requires maturity in application of research techniques. It must be noted that sociology researches group behavior whereas natural science is inclined towards individual interpretations of an experience.
Alexander Michelle ( 2010). The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration of the Age of Colorblindness. New York: New Press.
Catania, A.C. (2002). Learning (6th ed). New York: Prentice Hall.
Ledoux, S. F (2002). “Defining Natural Sciences.” Behaviorology Today, 5(1), 34-36.
Perry John, Perry Erna (2008). Contemporary Society: An Introduction to Social Science (12th Edition). New York: Allyn & Bacon.