• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Is sociology a science?

Extracts from this document...


Question: "Within the social sciences there is a debate about whether Sociology is a science or not". Evaluate the major positions in this debate. Science may be defined as a set of key components which can be related to a methodological process. It may also be defined broadly as the accumulation of verifiable knowledge or narrowly as the testing of hypotheses by positivistic methodology. Science is made up of four components which are empirical, theoretical, cumulative and objective. The empirical aspect deals with measurable phenomena, the theoretical aspect seeks to uncover casual relationships between phenomena, the cumulative aspect builds up knowledge, moving towards greater understanding of the world and the objective aspect concerns itself with the objective discovery of the truth. Personal attitudes and bias have no place in science. Sociology may be defined as the study of society and the way in which society influences people's behaviour, beliefs and identity. ...read more.


One positivist, Auguste Comte (1798-1857) who is one of the founding fathers of sociology believed that the development of society followed 'invariable laws'. He also believed that "the scientific study of society should be confined to collecting information about phenomena that can be objectively observed and classified."(Haralambos and Holborn, Sociology Themes and Perspectives, 2000) Comte believed that there was a ranking of scientific subjects, with sociology at the top. He also believes that scientific knowledge of society could be gathered together and used to enhance human life. Another positivist Karl Popper also believed that sociology was scientific. He believed that social sciences and sociology could be scientific by following a set of methodological practices. There are also a number of persons who believe that sociology is not a science. These are the physical scientists and the subjectivists' sociologists. The physical scientists base their beliefs on empirical and theoretical grounds. ...read more.


New research would have to be considered, in order for theories to be more accurate and applicable today. Phenomenologists also believe that sociology is not a science. They reject the view that natural science methodology is appropriate to sociology. To phenomenologists, objective observation of the social world is not possible. They believe that it is not possible to collect meaningful statistical data and establish correlations, casual connections and laws. In conclusion the positivists believe that sociology is a science. Marx also believed that his sociology was objective and scientific. They believe that sociologists can use the same procedures and methods as natural scientists do to come up with theories behind human behaviour. The physical scientists and subjectivists' sociologists believe that sociology is not a science. They believe that it is not possible to measure the social world objectively and that it is not possible to find laws of human behaviour. The debate about whether sociology is a science has been existent for quite some time and will continue to exist. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Sociology section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE Sociology essays

  1. A-Level Sociology Theory + Methods Revision.

    Marx specifies distinct stages of epochs 1. ASIATIC "primitive communism" 2. ANCIENT - Slavery "masters + slaves" 3. FEUDAL - "Landlords + surfs" 4. CAPITALISM - Bourgeoisie + Proletariat - Proletariat Revolution - workers at this stage will have attained "CLASS CONSCIOUSNESS" 5.

  2. The cannabis debate

    increased risk of developing schizophrenia, and other forms of psychosis, from cannabis use. Rethink chief executive Cliff Prior said: "There is a strongly-held view that cannabis is risk-free, reflected in the astonishingly high rates of use amongst young people as the street drug of choice. Cannabis is not risk free.

  1. Max Weber: Basic Terms (The Fundamental Concepts of Sociology)

    Objective science must distinguish between value judgements and empirical knowledge, and try to see factual truths. However, value-judgements of the practical interest of the scientist will always be significant in determining the focus of attention of analytical activity (my values direct me in what I think are interesting or

  2. Positivism: "Love, Order, Progress" - Auguste Comte (1795 - 1857) and Emile Durkheim (1858 ...

    It may be that the social sciences have problems, but these are problems of development and not problems in principle because of what sociologists study. What is the scientific method? According to the positivist view it is based on a number of principles that I shall first put to you rather formally and then summarise more informally: 1.

  1. Philosophies of Social Science.

    recognition in critically evaluating the work of others; apply the individualism / holism distinction in addressing a specific social question (see our seminar). The following notes, therefore, are structured in the following sequence: 1) a sketch of the rise in individualism in the West and an initial identification of varieties of individualism.

  2. The Horror and Sci-fi genres: General Theoretical Approaches.

    In such a world, the terminator does not seem too out of place. It can calculate and predict the appropriate forms of behavior and pass for human. In Terminator 2 (1991), these implications are made even more explicit. The humans are often more insensitive and unemotional than the reprogrammed cyborg sent back to protect John Conner.

  1. Organizational Perspectives on Stratification.

    The most distinctive task of sociology is the structural analysis of various forms of differentiation (such as heterogeneity and inequality), their interrelations, the conditions producing them and changes in them, and their implications for social relations. Heterogeneity - or horizontal differentiation - refers to the distribution of a population among groups in terms of a nominal parameter.

  2. Is sociology a science?

    From a functionalist perspective society is a system made up of interrelated parts. For example if a functionalist was asked what is the function of the family then they would say the family socialises new members of society and teaches them the norms and values which are essential for social life.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work