Refashioning these concepts, I use them to assess the changes in, and issues relevant to, racial meaning created by demographic shifts. Over the past several decades, there has been increasing diversity among so-called racial groups. Our collective understanding of who Blacks, Hispanics, and Asians are has undergone a fundamental revision as new groups entered the country. The liberalization of immigration laws beginning inpolitical instability in various areas of the world, and labor migration set in motion by global economic restructuring all contributed to an influx of new groups—Laotians, Guatemalans, Haitians, and Sudanese, among others.
Research involving human subjects must follow certain ethical standards to make sure the subjects are not harmed. Such harm can be quite severe in medical research unless certain precautions are taken. For example, in the U. The men had syphilis, for which no cure then existed, and were studied to determine its effects.
After scientists found a decade later that penicillin could cure this disease, the government scientists decided not to give penicillin to the Tuskegee men because doing so would end their research.
As a result, several of the men died from their disease, and some of their wives and children came down with it. The study did not end until the early s, when the press finally disclosed the experiment.
Several observers likened it to experiments conducted by Nazi scientists. If the subjects had been white and middle class, they said, the government would have ended the study once it learned that penicillin could cure syphilis Jones, In a study that began in of syphilis among African American men in Tuskegee, Alabama, government physicians decided not to give penicillin to the men after it was found that this drug would cure syphilis.
Wikimedia Commons — public domain. Fortunately, sociological research does not have this potential for causing death or serious illness, but it still can cause other kinds of harm and thus must follow ethical standards. The federal government has an extensive set of standards for research on human subjects, and the major sociology professional society, the American Sociological Association, has a code of ethics for sociological research.
One of the most important ethical guidelines in sociological and other human-subject research concerns privacy and confidentiality. When they do research, sociologists should protect the privacy and confidentiality of their subjects. When a survey is used, the data must be coded prepared for computer analysis anonymously, and in no way should it be possible for any answers to be connected with the respondent who gave them.
In field research, anonymity must also be maintained, and aliases fake names should normally be used when the researcher reports what she or he has been observing. Some sociologists consider the privacy and confidentiality of subjects so important that they have risked imprisonment when they have refused to violate confidentiality.
In one example, a graduate student named Mario Brajuha had been doing participant observation as a restaurant waiter on Long Island, New York, when the restaurant burned down. When the police suspected arson, they asked Brajuha to turn over his field notes.
When Brajuha refused, he was threatened with imprisonment. Meanwhile, two suspects in the case also demanded his field notes for their legal defense, but again Brajuha refused. In another case, a graduate student named Rik Scarce refused to turn over his field notes on radical environmentalists after one of the groups he was studying vandalized a university laboratory.
Scarce was jailed for contempt of court when he refused to tell a grand jury what he had learned about the group and spent several months behind bars Monaghan, A third example aroused much discussion among sociologists when it came to light.
Laud Humphreys studied male homosexual sex that took place in public bathrooms. He did so by acting as the lookout in several encounters where two men had sex; the men did not know Humphreys was a researcher. He also wrote down their license plates and obtained their addresses and a year later disguised himself and interviewed the men at their homes.
The requirement of informed consent becomes an ethical issue when prisoners are studied, because prisoners may feel pressured to participate in the study.
Another ethical issue concerns consent. Before a researcher can begin obtaining data, the subjects of the research must normally sign an informed consent form. This form summarizes the aims of the study and the possible risks of being a subject.
If researchers want to study minors under age 18they normally must obtain a signature from a parent or legal guardian. Otherwise, they may feel pressured to participate in the project without really wanting to do so.
Informed consent becomes a particular problem when a researcher wants to include certain populations in a study. Perhaps the clearest example of such a problem is when a study involves prisoners.
When prisoners are asked to be interviewed or to fill out a questionnaire, they certainly can refuse to do so, but they may feel pressured to participate.Congress and the Politics of Problem Solving This is the most dysfunctional political environment that I have ever seen.
But then you have to juxtapose that with [this Congress being] one of, at least, the three most productive Congresses since Making sense of all that can make your head burst. The changing meaning of race.
Changing racial attitudes. This collection of papers, compiled and edited by distinguished leaders in the behavioral and social sciences, represents the most current literature in the field. Volume 1 covers demographic trends, immigration, racial attitudes, and the geography of . GK: Mental health is a major, major issue, and it’s only getting worse.
I’ve seen statistics that up to 70 percent of inmates have mental health issues. Potential ethical issues in sociological research are normally not as serious as those in medical research, but sociologists must still take care to proceed in an ethical manner in their research.
The guideline that informed consent must be obtained from potential research subjects is a special issue for vulnerable populations such as prisoners. Four issues of concern exist in the contemporary American dilemma of cult activity.
These issues follow as recruiting techniques, unorthodox practices, and the causes for joining. The techniques used by cult leaders in order to recruit new members can be both manipulative and destructive. To assume that a grand unified philosophical theory can address all these issues adequately may be a form of reductionistic thinking.
Some of the easier problems (in my mind) involve the more individual issues. One application of these issues is as a way to assess the effectiveness of a philosophical system or theory of consciousness-raising.