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Research Methods in the Social Sciences: An A-Z of key concepts

Research Methods in the Social Sciences: An A-Z of key concepts (1st edn)

Jean-Frédéric Morin, Christian Olsson, and Ece Özlem Atikcan
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date: 08 December 2021

p. 307V. Variables

A Matter of Kind and Degreelocked

p. 307V. Variables

A Matter of Kind and Degreelocked

  • Jean-Frédéric Morin,
  • Christian Olsson
  •  and Ece Özlem Atikcan

Abstract

This chapter explores variables, which are measurable representations. As such, they are located at the interface between theoretical constructs and empirical observations. Deductive research identifies variables by operationalizing abstract concepts, while inductive research typically constructs variables from the observation of units. Irrespective of whether the research is deductive and theory-driven or inductive and empirically driven, variables occupy a central position in research methodology. One of the key features of variables is that they vary across units; any variable can have at least two distinct values (also called attributes). The chapter distinguishes dependent and independent variables before introducing other types of variables and presenting different types of values. It also discusses the epistemological assumptions underlying the notion of variables.

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