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I.
Random sample – Random sampling is a method of acquiring respondents that makes sure the population is accounted for. Unlike its counter-part biased sampling, random sampling assures the group of respondents to be diversified and without the bias possessed by the researcher. This can be done using methods like the fishbowl method wherein all possible candidates are written on lots and randomly selected (this can be possible for researches will relatively small populations).
Qualitative versus quantitative methods – quantitative methods rely mainly on hard data, meaning it banks its findings on figures (like percentages and averages). This had been a brainchild of the desire of structural-functionalists aiming to make the Social Sciences hard sciences. Qualitative methods on the other hand do not mainly rely on quantitative/numeric data but more on narratives and experiences. This method is a deviation from traditional methodology and has more elbow room for subjective interpretation and is suited for understanding phenomena that cannot be converted to figures (i.e. homosexuality’s degree cannot be measured o quantified).
Ethnographic (or participant) observation – Ethnography is a general approach which involves a combination of interviews and participant observation. The main idea of ethnographic research is to study people’s dealings in their natural condition.  The point is to get inside the workings of the culture, the labels used in conducting their lives and to develop a subtle grasp of the subject’s worldview and how they generally act the way they do.  There is a stress on the researcher being involved in the everyday world of those who are being studied as the researcher him/herself gains experiential knowledge, thus being more capable of giving an accurate account.  Working with unstructured data (i.e. stories or narratives) is a common thing with this approach and in addition, there is a tendency to study only a small numbers of cases.
Content analysis – is a method that uncovers hidden trends and phenomena by first taking what is written or said as it is and second, reading between the lines. This is important in political studies as many, if not all, means of the political machinery are articulated or written into laws and it is up to individuals like political scientists to look for flaws and if possible to correct the shortcomings of such laws.
Media bias – this refers to the practice of some media outlets that tends to be selective of the content they broadcast as well as putting out in the open their partiality on a certain issue (whereas the media should be non-partisan). This can be seen in the workings of Fox News in which it openly and directly criticizes the Democratic Party while at the same time, it praises the Republican Party to the high heavens.
Civic engagement – refers to the means citizens of a state actively pursue goals through the auspices of civic society such as lobbying and on a broader scale rallying. As such, it serves as the ultimate check-and-balance mechanism for the government as interests of the people who have given it mandate are collectively articulated and debated upon.
II.
The story centers on the passage of the Universal Healthcare bill and it has been the focus of partisan divide both in the senate and congress as well as in civic society. The Democratic Party, who as a collective had pushed for the passage of the bill, work on the ethos of providing quality healthcare to Americans that really need it as millions of Americans remain to be uninsured? Their opponents, the Republicans on the other hand, greatly oppose the bill as it would cost the government more money in an era of recession and great deficit. Basically, it is not only a battle of necessity but a battle of political wills as interests of some individuals (i.e. owners of insurance firms) come out in the open in congressional discussions.

            This particular piece of news is important to know mainly because it manifests the partisan politics that plagues the United States and hampers the passage of laws that are necessary ensure a good life for the citizens they vowed to serve. Using realism as the theoretical basis, we can see that both parties are actuated by their own agenda and this prolongs the processes that enable the government to function the way its people would want it to. This results into a disjoint of interests between the civic body and the government and this is unhealthy for any democracy. Through realism, politics in news can be seen as acts pushed by the interests of the politician and that necessitates checks and balances such as the media (and to some extent the academe) to expose these so it may be corrected.

III.

Ross, Michael. 2008. Oil, Islam, and Women, American Political Science Review 102, no.1 (February), http://www.sscnet.ucla.edu/polisci/faculty/ross/Oil%
            20Islam%20and%20Women%20-%20apsr%20final.pdf (Accessed April 29, 2010)

1.         Provide the full citation for the article at the top of the page.
2.         Write in your own words the research question for this article.
            Do high levels of oil production provide a better explanation on the gender discrimination experienced by women in the Middle East vis-à-vis that which had been provided by the tenets of Islam?
3.         What is the dependent variable?
            There are actually two: One is Female Labor Force Participation and Female Political Influence.
4.         What is the theoretical significance of this research question? In other words, how does this study contribute to scholarly debates?
            The theoretical significance of this research question can be seen in further providing inquiries about the interaction of males and females in the Middle East. Gender studies have taken more focus in recent decades thanks mainly to movements that aim to deconstruct myths and stereotypes that have set limitations on women. The common consensus about the matter in the academe is an explanation supplied for by the tenets of Islam, it being inherently patriarchal which in turn limits the social mobility of women. What the inquiry does is that it opens venues for alternative explanations for the perpetuation of patriarchy in the said societies and the more perspectives and explanations there are, the better there is understanding of the dynamics involved within the context which is the end desired by scholarly pursuits.
5.         What is the primary hypothesis being put forward or tested by the author?
            A rise in the value of oil production will reduce female participation in the labor force.
6.         Describe two rival explanations that are considered by the author as well as the evidence that is used to evaluate the rivals.
            One rival explanation is that sometimes oil-rich governments utilize tariffs and subsidies to protect their tradable sectors where women operate. However, oil-rich governments usually protect heavy industry, not light industry. Moreover, in an event that “an oil-rich government did protect light industries, once domestic firms received protection they would no longer have to compete with overseas firms—–reducing their incentive to seek out low-wage labor, and hence, female workers”. Another rival explanation he considered is the contribution of immigrant labor in going against his model. He then explains that even if we allow for female immigration, the prevailing female wage would drop because women citizens still withdraw from the labor market.
7.         What cases are being compared?
            Since the study had been limited to understanding the dynamic in the context of the middle east, the cases that were compared are countries that have a high level of oil production and countries that have low levels (or even none) of oil production in the Middle East, all of them having Islam as the major faith.
8.         What research methods are used, and what types of evidence are collected?
            The researcher uses regression analysis in determining the trend of women political influence in key areas such as number of seats in legislature, etc. He also uses a comparative analysis in looking for similarities and differences across countries. In essence, he used quantitative methods and he gathered figures as evidence.
9.         What is the author’s argument?
            The author’s argument is quite simple: in these sorts of countries, the work force is segregated in the sense that even if both men and women are qualified for a certain job, women are still excluded because of stereotypes concerning their capacity for heavy work. He further establishes that the social mobility of women are contingent in their capacity to impose their will and this can only be made accessible to them if they have the means to earn money. Since the work is segregated the way that it is, when the production of oil is high, women are left with “light jobs” while men are left with “heavy jobs”, one of them extracting oil. In the event that this happens, the effects of the “Dutch sickness” set in and the work available to women suddenly become non-tradable which furthers their low social status. It is through this that women continue to be subjugated under the dominion of men.
10.        What is your evaluation of the author’s argument? Are you convinced? Why or why not?
            Overall, I think the author found adequate evidence in explaining his thesis and he in fact saw trends in a cross-country analysis showing varying degrees of gender equality in relation to the respective countries’ oil production levels. However, I remain to be not convinced as the premises he used still bank on cultural aspects, especially that of Islamic values, which makes his argument flaccid. His primary premise centers on segregation based on stereotypes and if we look at it deeper, these stereotypes are actually still anchored on Islamic tenets (i.e. women do housework and men earn the money). Therefore, it does not provide an alternative explanation but rather it just supplements the explanation provided for by Islam.

 

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