Writer’s Choice

Choose a construct that is of interest to you. Find two measures of that construct in the research literature. Tell us a little about both and then determine, if you were conducting your own study, which one (if either) you would use and why? Remember to link your reasoning to this week’s resources.


Chapter 6
Defining and Measuring Concepts
Measurement, Conceptualization, and Operationalization
In this chapter we’ll discuss measurement, conceptualization, and operationalization. If you’re not quite sure what any of those words mean, or even how to pronounce them, no need to worry. By the end of the chapter, you should be able to wow your friends and family with your newfound knowledge of these three difficult to pronounce, but relatively simple to grasp, terms.

6.1 Measurement
Define measurement.
Describe Kaplan’s three categories of the things that social scientists measure.
Identify the stages at which measurement is important.
Measurement is important. Recognizing that fact, and respecting it, will be of great benefit to you—both in research methods and in other areas of life as well. If, for example, you have ever baked a cake, you know well the importance of measurement. As someone who much prefers rebelling against precise rules over following them, I once learned the hard way that measurement matters. A couple of years ago I attempted to bake my husband a birthday cake without the help of any measuring utensils. I’d baked before, I reasoned, and I had a pretty good sense of the difference between a cup and a tablespoon. How hard could it be? As it turns out, it’s not easy guesstimating precise measures. That cake was the lumpiest, most lopsided cake I’ve ever seen. And it tasted kind of like Play-Doh. Figure 6.1 depicts the monstrosity I created, all because I did not respect the value of measurement.

Figure 6.1

Measurement is important in baking and in research.

Just as measurement is critical to successful baking, it is as important to successfully pulling off a social scientific research project. In sociology, when we use the term measurement we mean the process by which we describe and ascribe meaning to the key facts, concepts, or other phenomena that we are investigating. At its core, measurement is about defining one’s terms in as clear and precise a way as possible. Of course, measurement in social science isn’t quite as simple as using some predetermined or universally agreed-on tool, such as a measuring cup or spoon, but there are some basic tenants on which most social scientists agree when it comes to measurement. We’ll explore those as well as some of the ways that measurement might vary depending on your unique approach to the study of your topic.

What Do Social Scientists Measure?
The question of what social scientists measure can be answered by asking oneself what social scientists study. Think about the topics you’ve learned about in other sociology classes you’ve taken or the topics you’ve considered investigating yourself. Or think about the many examples of research you’ve read about in this text. In Chapter 2 “Linking Methods With Theory” we learned about Melissa Milkie and Catharine Warner’s study (2011)Milkie, M. A.,

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