Ugrás a tartalomhoz


Renáta Németh, Dávid Simon


2. fejezet - Lecture 2

2. fejezet - Lecture 2


  • Role of statistics in social research (continued)

  • Basic concepts in social statistics

    • Variables

    • Levels of measurement

    • Continuous/discrete variables

    • Unit of analysis

    • Dependent/independent variables

    • Does empirical relationship imply causation? (continued)

    • Sample and population: descriptive statistics and statistical inference

  • Frequency distributions

    • Comparing groups: row, column, cell percentages

  • The ISSP

Role of statistics in social research

The research process:


An example to identify the above steps in a particular research:

Trust is a key concept in economic sociology

Mari Sako: Prices, quality and trust (1992). The author examines how British and Japanese companies in the electronics industry manage their relationships with buyers and suppliers.

She identifies two distinct types:

  • ACR (arms-length contractual relation: formal, based on contracts) in Britain,

  • OCR (obligational contractual relation: more informal, based on commitment) in Japan

Theory (based on background knowledge)

  • Contracts: ACR: detailed clauses, OCR: oral communication,

  • Procedure: ACR: bids › price › contract, OCR: order before price,

  • Communication: ACR: narrow, minimal, OCR: multiple, frequent

Research question:

How do the Hungarian companies manage their relationships?


The type depends on the company’s size, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) show more OCR-features

Data collection:

  • Separately among SMEs and large enterprises (according to the hypothesis)

  • Interviews with the management (according to the theory)

  • Questions according to the theory and the hypothesis

Data analysis:

Frequency of occurrence of the features identified by the theory, taking into account size of the companies (according to the hypothesis)

Testing the hypothesis:

Are OCR-features significantly more frequent among SMEs?

Are ACR-features significantly more frequent among large enterprises?


The results..

  1. ... may confirm the hypothesis

  2. ... may deny the hypothesis

  3. ... may further specify the theory (e.g.: companies with mixed OCR-ACR features: OCR in communication, ACR in contracts)

Further research, new hypotheses…

Research evaluation

Did the research follow the steps of the general research process?

Some possible errors:

  • no theory

  • no hypothesis

  • the method of data collection is inadequate for the particular hypothesis

  • the conclusion is not based on the results (ignores inconvenient data)

Basic concepts in social statistics


A variable is a property of objects that takes on two or more values.

For example, intercompany relations in the latter example can be of type ACR or OCR, so the variable Type of relation has two values.

A variable is well-defined if

  • its categories are exhaustive (every object can be classified) and

  • mutually exclusive (every object can be classified into only one category).

In research practice, these assumptions are sometimes violated. See the (fictive) question below of a research on adults:

What is your current employment situation?

  1. Working now

  2. Looking for work, unemployed

  3. Student

  4. Maternity or sick leave

  5. Permanently disabled

  6. I don’t want to answer

Are the categories mutually exclusive?

NO: a person can be classified into both the 3rd and the 4th category.

Are the categories exhaustive?

NO: Pensioners can not be classified.