Theory and Research


This paper will focus on the quantitative correlation study method used
in survey based researches such as the attached article entitled "Horatio Alger
lives". Social research is a collection of methods people use to systematically
combine theories and ideas to produce knowledge. Because of it's complexity,
researchers must be able to carefully select a method or methods that will best
suit their study objectives. Quantitative research method consists of:
experiment, content analysis, existing statistics (correlation), and survey.
The correlation and survey will be the two main methods that will be emphasized.
In a survey research, people are asked questions either through the use of
questionnaires or during an interview. Unlike the experiment approach, the
condition and situation in a survey requires no manipulation. All the subject
have to do is to answer questions. Good quantitative research is determined by
validity and reliability of the research method used (Teevan, 1995:161).
Therefo re, the straight correlation study method used in the survey research of
"Horatio Alger lives" lack components of validity and reliability.

News Article Summary

This article entitled "Horatio Alger lives" is basically a survey
correlation study done on two distinct social classes; sons of wealthy fathers
and sons of lower income fathers. The goal in this research was to determine
which sons of the two distinct social groups mentioned, were to likely make more
money in the future. Therefore, they surveyed 400,000 males age 16 and 19 that
was still living with their fathers. After the eleven year period the same
groups of men were again surveyed, and their incomes was correlated with their
fathers. The research revealed that overall sons of wealthy fathers was more
likely to earn higher salaries than their dads. Based on this fact the
researcher further generalized that sons of wealthy fathers was more than likely
to obtain a higher income than those sons of lower income fathers. Despite the
overall results a small percentage of sons of fathers in the lower income
families made more money than their father.

Class Discussion

The class discussion evolved around two questions. The first question
was; do you agree with the researcher's angle in which he derived a general
assumption that, sons of wealthy fathers will make more money than sons of lower
income fathers? Before allowing anyone to answer I quickly brought up the third
variable which was attitude, in addition to the previous question. This
question had two very interesting but opposing points of views brought to light
by two very different opinionated classmates. One classmate (female) agreed
with the researchers measures and assumptions, arguing on the bases that if your
father had more money than you are more than likely to get a better education
therefore, with this education one will be able to earn more money. She further
added that wealtheir families had higher expectations on their children and as a
result the child were likely to live up to that expectation. On the contrary,
the other classmate (male) disagreed with the researcher's approach and
generalization. His argument was that regardless of how rich one's father may
be it is solely dependent upon the individual's attitude. He further argued
that if that individual had a good attitude (ambitious and motivated) then the
wealth and connection on his/her father's behalf will only enhance his/her
success financially. However, given a hypothetical situation both the classmate
including myself and others agreed that on a general basis, sons of wealthier
fathers will be more likely to secure better jobs than those sons of fathers in
lower income. We further discussed the importance of the third variable which
was attitude and agreed on how important it is to be motivated. The question of
validity was also brought up during discussions because the researcher measured
wealth using only the income of the father. Further discussions of this
suggested that to get a better measure the average of both mother and father's
income should be taken. Finally, there was the last question; in the case of
this article what is the independent and dependent variable? Independent
variable is the cause and the dependent is the outcome resulting from the cause.
The article suggested independent variable was the sons of either rich or poor
dads and the dependent variable was did they make more than their fathers.
Discussions of this topic concluded that the independent variable be the
attitude of the son and the dependent was how much they made.

Sociological Analysis of Article

The research "Horatio Alger lives" uses a inductive reasoning logic.
This means that the researcher begins with a specific result. In this case the
results are based on 400,000 male subject (aged 16-19)