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From Theory to Empirical Research


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From Theory to Empirical Research
  • The ‘typical’ structure of quantitative research 57
  • From theory to hypotheses 59
  • From concepts to variables 64
  • Units of analysis 66
  • Variables 68
  • Nominal, ordinal and interval variables 70
  • Concepts, indicators and indexes 75
  • Total error 78
  • A final note: reliability and validity 81

The central topic of this chapter is operationalization – that is, the transformation of theoretical hypotheses into empirical research operations. The meaning of ‘theory’, ‘hypothesis’ and ‘concept’ are clarified. Then the notion of variable – a key theme in empirical social research – is introduced, and the various types of variable are described. Finally, the chapter addresses the general issue of errors which inevitably occur along the road from theory to empirical research.


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