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Is Sociology a Science?

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Is Sociology a Science? Does sociology embody the critical characteristics to justify its classification as a science and is such a classification acceptable? Since the beginning of the study of sociology in the 19th century, this has been a fundamental conflict within the field of sociology. Opinion is generally divided into two camps; those who believe that Sociology should be considered as equal in stature to the Natural Sciences and those who disagree. Sociology, according to Ackroyd and Hughes is the "... social science that is concerned with the explanation of human behavior." A Science, according to the Oxford dictionary is a branch of knowledge conducted on objective principles involving the systemized observation of and experiment with phenomenon. (This definition is usually accorded exclusively to the natural sciences, for example Physics) The main proponents of this argument are the positivists. Many of the founding fathers of Sociology subscribed to this school of thought. They believed that social facts could be observed objectively, measured and quantified in the way matter is quantified in terms of temperature, volume and pressure. In Chemistry, proven theories make it possible to predict the behavior of elements. ...read more.


empirical and statistical methods and objective analysis, Durkheim introduced the concept that the suicide rate is a product of social forces, external to the individual. Many interpretists rejoined, highlighting several shortcomings of his study and in general of the positivists approach. Taylor in his book" Beyond Durkheim: Sociology and Suicide" argued that many of Durkheim's concepts are not testable; he claims that Durkheim conjectures invisible forces shape behavior; in so doing ignoring the first rule of positivism that social study should be confined to that which can be observed. Atkinson also attacked Durkheim's use of statistics charging that they are open to interpretation and thus value judgments are invited. Essential to positivist argument was Karl Marx. He was convinced that understanding was the focal point of Sociology, thus he wanted to develop a science of society that would be able to deliberately change and improve the nature of their social order. To this end, he sought laws to understand society. Considered the antithesis of the positivist approach, interactionists for example C. Wright Mills are vociferous not only in their denunciation of it but also in their belief in alternatives. ...read more.


who support the positivist stand yet do not automatically disregard interpretive sociology because they believe "the study of unobservable meaning and motives to be perfectly compatible with a scientific subject." In conclusion, sociology is divided into two extreme perspectives, that is, positivism and interpretism. Though not entirely incompatible they both offer different arguments for the pursuit of study in sociology, due to large amounts of evidence that they have accumulated. A new view is however emerging that "there can be no single correct approach." This is the view being taken by many of today's sociologists. Over the years it has been proven that it is unrealistic to attempt to pigeonhole Sociology. A more modified definition of sociology is thus warranted; one which stresses the importance of seeking an understanding of human behavior while at the same time highlighting the need for techniques and methods that are above reproach while at the same time objective. Karina Johnson 1In Durkheim's famous work on suicide, he collected official statistics on suicide for a number of European countries and showed that the rates were stable over a period of time. He also collected statistics relating to a number of other variables and by statistical operations. ?? ?? ?? ?? ...read more.

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