Consider creating charts to identify each author’s perspective and to differentiate among them. Textbooks in the humanities (branches of knowledge that investigate human beings, their culture, and their self-expression, such as philosophy, religion, literature, music, and art) provide facts, examples, opinions, and original material, such as stories or essays. You will often be asked to react to your reading by identifying central themes or characters. An illustration shows a page titled ‘The Price System’ from an economics book. FIGURE 6.6 > Social Science Textbook Page When reading a social science textbook, such as the economics book shown here, pay attention to key terms, like those defined in the marginal glossary. This text also has clear headings, which help guide you through the content, and a feature called “Checkpoint,” which summarizes important ideas and includes questions to test your understanding. The text reads, When buyers and sellers exchange money for goods and services, accepting some offers and rejecting others, they are also doing something else: They are communicating their individual desires. Much of this communication is accomplished through the prices of items. If buyers value a particular item sufficiently, they will quickly pay its asking price. If they do not buy it, they are indicating they do not believe the item to be worth its asking price. Prices also give buyers an easy means of comparing goods that can substitute for each other. If the price of margarine falls to half the price of butter, this will suggest to many consumers that margarine is a better deal. Similarly, sellers can determine what goods to sell by comparing their prices. When prices rise for tennis rackets, this tells sporting goods store operators that the public wants more tennis rackets, leading the store operators to order more. Prices, therefore, contain a considerable amount of useful information for both consumers and sellers. For this reason, economists often call out market economy the price system. A list below titled ‘Checkpoint’ reads, Markets: Bullet Markets are institutions that enable buyers and sellers to interact and transact business. Bullet Markets differ in geographical location, products offered, and size. Bullet Prices contain a wealth of information for both buyers and sellers. Bullet Through their purchases, consumers signal their willingness to exchange money for particular products at particular prices. These signals help businesses decide what to produce, and how much of it to produce. Bullet The market economy is also called the price system. Question: What are the important differences between the markets for financial securities such as the New York Stock Exchange and your local farmer’s market? Answers to the Checkpoint questions can be found at the end of this chapter. A text on the right reads, price system A name given to the market economy because prices provide considerable information to both buyers and sellers. Supplementary Material Textbooks have to cover a lot of material in a limited space, and they do not necessarily provide all the things you want to know about a topic. If you find yourself interested in a particular topic or your instructor requires you to complete additional reading, go to primary sources—original research or documents on a topic—or supplementary sources that are often referenced in textbooks, either at the end of the chapters or in the back of the book. These sources can be journal articles, research papers, or essays, and they can be found online or in your library. Reading the original source material will provide you with more details than most textbooks will. Many of these sources were originally written for other instructors or researchers. Therefore, they often refer to concepts that are familiar to other scholars but not necessarily to first-year college students. If you are reading a journal article that describes a theory or research study, one technique for easier understanding is to read from the end to the beginning. That is, first read the article’s conclusion and discussion sections. Then go back to see how the author performed the experiment or formed the ideas. In almost all scholarly journals, articles are introduced by an abstract—a paragraph-length summary of the methods and major findings. Reading the abstract is a quick way to get the main points of a research article before you start reading it. When reading research articles, always ask yourself, “So what?” Was the research important to what we know about the topic or, in your opinion, was it unnecessary?
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Consider creating charts to identify each author’s perspective and to differentiate among them