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For this activity, I would like you to review the Does Epidemiologic Theory Exist? reading and answer the following questions:
1) In a couple of different places in the reading, Krieger mentions that one of the core assumptions of science (and the creation of theory) is that there is a commonly shared biophysical world. This refers to the idea that there is a real, physical world outside of us and that we all participate in it together. This is in contrast to the idea that there is no “real” world outside of us and everything we experience is just a figment of our imaginations. Krieger notes that while it is commonly accepted that there is a shared reality we all participate in together, “this assumption does not presume this referent reality is commonly perceived or understood by all individuals” (23). In other words, just because we all participate in a shared reality does not mean that we all perceive it the same. She gives three examples: color-blindness, interpretations of what it means when the sun sets, and how people define race. Please come up with another specific example of how people may interpret reality in different ways.
2) Krieger also states that “scientific observation is not a passive phenomenon: what we ‘see’ and apprehend depends on the ideas we have about [what] we expect—and do not expect—to ‘see’ (24). This is a very important point and helps to explain why a lot of scientific research and theory creation perpetuates racism, sexism, and other forms of oppression. Please explain what this means in your own words and come up with a specific example of how this could perpetuate racism, sexism, or another form of oppression in scientific research. 3)On page 31, Krieger writes about the “mandate of epidemiology,” noting it is not one that is necessarily shared with other social sciences (like sociology). This mandate suggests that the purpose of epidemiology “is to create knowledge relevant to improving population health and preventing unnecessary suffering, including eliminating health inequities.”
Please reflect on this statement and explain how it applies to sociological research. There isn’t a correct answer to this question. I am just asking you to explain how you understand the purpose of sociological research or, rather, what you think the purpose ought to be. 4)Based on what you learned from this reading, please explain what the role of theory is in scientific research.