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Compare and Contrast Research Paper/ textbook – 1. Prus, Robert. (1996). Symbolic Interaction and Ethnographic Research: Intersubjectivity and the Study of Human Lived Experience. New York: SUNY Press.
textbook – 1. Prus, Robert. (1996). Symbolic Interaction and Ethnographic Research: Intersubjectivity and the Study of Human Lived Experience. New York: SUNY Press.
Compare and Contrast Research Paper – Assignment Instructions
SOCI 3060 (2015-2016) – Dr. Arthur McLuhan
The purpose of this assignment is for students to comprehend the history and claims of the
positivist-interpretivist debate in the social sciences, and to develop the ability to identify,
compare, and analyze examples of positivist and interpretivist research in social psychology.
In this paper, you will engage and assess the positivist-interpretivist debate in the social sciences
by comparing and contrasting examples of research from each tradition.
Develop an introduction for your paper (approx. 1 pg.). In your introduction, outline for the
reader what the paper is about and indicate the various sections of the analysis to come. TIP:
Develop your introduction last—you don’t know what you’re introducing until you’ve written
the rest of your paper.
Develop a discussion of the positivist-interpretivist debate in your paper (approx. 2 pp.).
Read and become familiar with the positivist-interpretivist debate Prus discusses in the course
text and we have discussed in class. In general terms, Prus’s entire text considers aspects of the
debate, but you will find Chapter 1 (entire chapter) and Chapter 7 (pp. 203-216) especially
useful. Some questions to consider in writing this section include: What is the positivistinterpretivist
debate? How does each approach understand/conceptualize social reality? What are
the practices and premises that each camp uses in the study of group life? What are the
advantages and limitations of each approach?
Select one example of a positivist social psychological study and one example of an
interpretivist social psychological study from a scholarly journal, and then overview each
article for the reader (approx. 1 pg.). Ideally these articles will consider the same general topic
(e.g., gender, education, deviance). TIP: A useful source for positivist (and sometimes
interpretivist) studies is the journal Social Psychology Quarterly. And a useful source for
interpretivist studies is the journal Symbolic Interaction. Whichever articles you choose, they
should be available online through your library account. Some questions to consider in writing
this section include: What are the research questions/problems each article considers? What
theoretical perspective and methodological orientation does each use? What are the key findings
of each study?
Compare and contrast the studies in terms of their assumptions, methods, and findings
(approx. 2-4 pp.). Be as detailed and precise as possible. Indicate and discuss the
positivist/interpretivist elements of each article. The course text will be useful in identifying
these elements and their connections.
Discuss and assess the advantages and disadvantages of each approach in understanding
the particular social phenomenon under investigation in each article (approx 2-4 pp.).
Again, the course text suggests themes to think about, but you can also discuss possibilities with
your TA.
Develop a conclusion (approx. 1pg.). Highlight what you’ve learned in doing the assignment.
Indicate the elements that proved to be the most challenging.
The paper should be approximately 10 pages long, double-spaced and with 1 inch margins. Use
Times New Roman 12 point font and number your pages. The paper should also have a proper
title page, including your name, student number, and TA.
At the end of your paper, include references or work cited.
Pay particular attention to your writing style, spelling, and grammar since these will be taken
into consideration in the marking.
The analysis will be marked according to the following criteria: Does the analysis demonstrate a
full and accurate understanding of the positivist-interpretivist debate in the social sciences? Do
the articles represent instances of positivist and interpretivist research? Are the articles well
summarized, compared, contrasted, and assessed according the instructions? Does the analysis
incorporate references to relevant the lectures and readings? Are the connections relevant, wellestablished,
and well-argued? Have all of the instructions regarding presentation been observed?
Exceptional reports will receive between 90 and 100%. Above average reports will receive
between 80 and 89%. Satisfactory or fully competent papers will receive between 70 and 79%.
Less than satisfactory or marginal reports will receive between 50 and 69%. Unacceptable papers
will receive a failing grade.

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