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Is sociology a science?

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Introduction

Critically evaluate the view that sociology is not a scientific discipline. Sociology can be identified as a scientific subject according to positivists as sociology can test theories, establish laws and uncover causal relationships. For Comte and Durkheim, sociology is a positivistic science as it is the analysis of social facts. Positivists believe there is an external reality to the individual and that social facts constraint independent of the individual. Human behaviours are a response to observable social conditions explained in terms of cause-effect relationships. Positivists just like scientists use rigorous methods which are objective and value free. For these reasons positivist sociologists favour quantitative methods and data. ...read more.

Middle

People cannot be studied using controlled observation so therefore sociology is not considered to be a science. Other sociological views would argue that sociology is scientific. From a Marxism point of view, Marx claimed that his theory of development of capitalism was scientific as it was testable to a degree. This supports the rules within determining if a subject is a scientific or not and this is according to the list, empirical, testable, theoretical, objective and cumulative. As Marx's theory was testable it can be said to be scientific, therefore making sociology scientific. Additionally, Kaplan agrees that sociology can be seen to operate reconstructed logics and logics in use, so it is as scientific or as unscientific as the natural sciences. ...read more.

Conclusion

In conclusion, from a realism approach, they believe the argument can go both ways. Realists suggest that Sociology can be considered scientific so long as research is carried out in a systematic way and research data matched to theories. They believe there are limits to what science can explain therefore sociology should go beyond science. They adopt the views of positivists that there are some lessons to be learned from the natural sciences but also strongly believe the interpretations and meanings that people give to society should be examined. Realism therefore attempts to break down the division between preference for qualitative and quantitative data and agree to a balance of both. Overall, sociology can be argued to be scientific depending on the extreme objectivity of the topic being studied. ...read more.

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