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Assess the usefulness of Positivist Research

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Assess the usefulness of Positivist Research. Positivism refers to the application of scientific methods and logic in the study of society and the social world. Positivists believe that human behaviour can be studied in order to find Laws of Human Behaviour, which could then be used to predict the behaviour of people within society. Positivist research tends to make use of quantitative methods in order to derive data- data which can then be sorted and stratified in order to identify trends, and from these trends, derive possible meanings. In order to assess the usefulness of Positivist Research, one will need to explore both the advantages and shortcomings of Positivists Methodology, and compare it in relation to other methods such as interpretivist methodology as well as realism and triangulation. Positivist Research can be said to be useful as it has a wide sample size and greater validity with regards to representation and repeatability. This means that information gathered using Positivist research is comparatively more representative of society than information gathered from other research methods, including interpretivist research which lacks a sufficiently large sample size and is generally unrepresentative of society. ...read more.


The fact that Positivist research can be quantified and presented easily means it is more useful than other forms of research such as interpretivist research, which cannot be quantified or used to find or predict social behaviour. On the other hand, positivist research is not useful because it fails to study the underlying causes behind social actions- instead relying of mere assumption with the use of statistical trends observed through the use of quantitative methods. Furthermore, the positivist assumption that all members of a society follow invariable laws or Laws of Social Behaviour is itself flawed and overly deterministic. Laws of Social behaviour can themselves be socially constructed through the process of socialisation within society, and therefore not be a representative view of the actual rules, if any, that govern social actions and human behaviour. Positivist Research can also be value-laden. This is shown through the many different interpretations used worldwide for certain social phenomena such as unemployment. ...read more.


However, Positivist Research fails completely when it comes to trying to explain, find or discover the meanings behind actions taken by humans in a social context. Positivist research also tends to lean on the highly deterministic side, completely ignoring the unique entity of the human being and its ability to consciously analyse a situation and the consequences of every course of action before taking action. In this case it can be said that the best approach towards research would be the Realist view as advocated by Urry and Keat, in which both positivist and interpretivist methods are combined, either together or to verify and check one another- through the methods of structuration as put forward by Giddens or Triangulation. Henceforth it can be said that Positivist research is indeed useful- but is best used in cooperation with other methods to ensure the best possible results. ?? ?? ?? ?? Edwin Loo 12K 17/03/2007 Sociology Essay Page 1 of 2 ...read more.

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