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Durkhiem is frequently referred to as a positivist, Webber as the founder of interpretative sociology. Critically compare and evaluate their methodological contributions to sociology.

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Introduction

Contempory Social Theory Student No: 0012286 Durkhiem is frequently referred to as a positivist, Webber as the founder of interpretative sociology. Critically compare and evaluate their methodological contributions to sociology. This essay will be examining the methodological contributions both Durkheim and Weber have provided to sociology. It will briefly observe what Positivists are and how their methodologies influence and affect their research. It will also consider what interpretative sociology is, and why their type of methodology is used when carrying out research. It will analyse both Durkheim's study of Suicide and also Webers study of The Protestant work ethic, and hopefully establish how each methodology was used for each particular piece of research, and why. Emile Durkhiem, in sociology terminology is considered to be a Functionalist, in addition to also being a Positivist, however, strictly speaking, Durkheim was not a Positivist. This is because he did not follow the positivist rule that states that sociological study should be confined to observable or directly measurable phenomena. Functionalists believe that in order for society to function correctly, there need to be shared values to help maintain social order. Society is viewed as a stable, orderly system. This stable system is in equilibrium and reflects societal consensus where the majority of members share a common set of values, beliefs, and social expectations. ...read more.

Middle

But society needed to be in the right mental attitude, and personality. Weber believed that because Protestantism became so widespread, especially after the Reformation, it explained why rational capitalism occurred where it did, and also in the places that it did. Weber however, did not imply that Protestantism and the Reformation caused capitalism, however he did believe that it helped foster an approach to life very useful for the development and expansion of capitalism. What made his work unique was that he stated that scientific approaches are inadequate on their own for collecting, analysing and obtaining data and that there are totally inappropriate in a subject that deals with human behaviour. Some sociologists who advocate the use of interpretative and qualitative approaches suggest that they should be used to supplement 'scientific' quantitative methodology, others suggest that they should replace 'scientific' approaches. Sociologists have adopted varying views on the relationship between sociology and science. It is claimed by positivists that science uses established methods and procedures, and that these methods and procedures can be applied to the social sciences. They believe that social facts can be observed objectively as well as being measured and quantified. The analysis of statistics can reveal correlations, causes and in due course, laws of human behaviour. From this point of view, sociological studies using these methods can be considered scientific. ...read more.

Conclusion

Both Sociologists were viewed highly for their work, however many also disagreed with their methodologies used when carrying out their work. Webber used the interpretative method, in order to try and see past statistics in the hope of grasping a greater understanding of why Protestantism helped rational capitalism to develop in the ways that it did. Durkheim, being a Positivist used statistics in order to determine why suicides occur at the times they do, and to certain people. He believed that it cannot be all to do with personal circumstances, and that society has a part to play in it. He concluded by establishing four different types of suicide, and that most suicides can fall into one of those categories. Although sociologists like J.D. Douglas would question the reliability of the statistics, due to the coroners decision being final, most sociologists would agree that Durkheim's study into suicide was successful, and indeed many have tried to develop and improve on his theory. Overall, this essay has shown that one type of methodology may not always be suitable for the particular research carried out. Both Interpretative sociology and the Positivist approach equally show that they are valid methods for carrying out research, but like everything, nothing is one hundred percent accurate. Therefore, there is always room for flaw, but in the study of Sociology, there is always room for more ways of obtaining and interpreting data. ...read more.

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