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

Should Sociology Be Scientific?

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

Should Sociology Be Scientific? In sociology there are two main contrasting views to how the subject of sociology should be approached and studied, as a science or not. In this essay I will be explaining the arguments of each side of the discussion fully, and aim to show the positive and negative points of either approach to studying sociology. The first argument I will analyse is Positivism. Positivists support the view that sociology should be studied as a science, arguing that society and the activities of the individuals in society as a whole hold main similarities and attributes to the physical or natural world. Positivists believe that social factors are largely involved in determining human behaviour, an example being that positivists think that people wish to seek partners in order to allow them to marry and produce children, letting them fulfil societies expectations of them. Positivists use scientific methodology, which means that their procedures resemble methods of collecting data that are usually seen in practice in natural sciences. Examples of some of these methods are questionnaires, structured interviews or statistics. Using scientific procedures in the Positivists view means that more accurate results will be collected, they hold the view that it is possible to see society in an objective way. An example of this is Durkheim, who believed the social facts of society could be considered in the same way as objects and events of the natural world. ...read more.

Middle

elderly Eskimo's will kill themselves for the sake of their society, where as a someone in a western society may kill themselves because they are depressed. Also, in Durkheim's research into suicide, J.D Douglas criticized him saying that the statistics used weren't valid, as the decision to if the sudden death was a suicide is made by the coroner, who in turn is influenced by the family and friends of the victim. This creates the possibility of there being systematic bias in the decision, having the consequence of not very reliable statistics to base his conclusions on. Another weakness of scientific methodology is it can result in generalisations in the conclusions, where the researcher will split the data collected into different categories, as Durkheim carried out in his study into suicide, which can be too reductionist, missing out important factors in the issue being researched such as the background of the suicides etc. Another method used in sociological research is observation, which positivists believe that the social world can be objectively observed and classified. Observation is not only used by positivists, but is also used by many anti-positivist sociologists who have observed situations in connection with subjects like education and suicide, where Atkinson observed the processes involved in the decisions made by coroners in the coroners courts. One problem with using observation is that it is restrictive in the type of situations it can be used in, such as in the study of the subject of politics, sociologists are prohibited from observing the British Cabinet. ...read more.

Conclusion

An example of this is if a person is fishing, are they doing it because its their hobby, or maybe because they are hungry. One process supported by Weber was verstehen, which is where the sociologist imagines himself or herself as the person or in the position of the person whose being studied. Weber thought that the motives behind an action are just as important as the actions themselves for coming to the truth behind a subject. There third perspective involved in the debate is Post Modernism, which believe in the grand narrative, or that there is no such thing as just having one dominant theory. Post Modernists believe the best results and theories are academic pick and mix's, where conclusions are drawn from many different perspectives and theories to get an all round finding that includes all the different points of view involved. Post Modernists also think that there is no such thing as one objective truth, and that no one method or way of looking at sociology can arrive at true conclusions as in reality, society is always changing as is the norms and values within society. One post modernist who believes that there is no one technique that can find the truth (a belief held by epistemology) is Lyotard, who sees all epistemology as being based on more the researchers opinions instead of being based on objective knowledge. This is known as being a metanarrative. Alison Howard - Sociology ...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.

    A - Adaptation - Relationship bet. sys + its environment. (Economy) I - Integration - adjustment of conflict (Low) L - Latency (Pattern Maintenance) - ensuring communal values are maintained. Crucial role of family, education + Religion N.B. Parsons - an economist tended to say ADAPTATION is most imp there4 sometimes - AGIL Robert Merton - distinguished bet.

  2. The classical and positivist approaches to criminological theory

    will'.2 The sheer simplicity of the classical approach does appear to outweigh the optimistic promises of the positivist. No retrospective legislation, clear written codes and minimal judicial discretion coupled with minimal punishment, to deter future criminals appears much more realistic than the positivist concept.

  1. evaluation of methods

    For this research I am going to ask 20 people from both age groups. For the teenagers I am going to ask people between the ages 13-19 and for adults I am going to ask between the age groups of 30-40.

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

    peaceful chances for profit. Where this is rationally pursued, calculations in terms of money are made, whether by modern bookkeeping or more primitive means. Everything is done in terms of balances of money income and money expenses. Whether the calculations are accurate, or whether the calculation method is traditional or

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

    It was Comte, however, who invented the word sociology, (and other words too such as altruism - the idea of doing something for no immediate reward). For Comte, sociology was the queen of the sciences. But although it was the queen (or king, if you will)

  2. Philosophies of Social Science.

    attachment to a social unit larger than themselves, no meaning or larger purpose. Characteristic of modern societies in which individuals are required to assume personal autonomy. Altruistic The opposite of 'egoistic' suicide - strong solidarity of the social group controls the individual's life.

  1. How successful was Durkheim in using the "Scientific method". In hindsight would you have ...

    of suicide with the incidence of various social factors (this is known as a multivariate analysis). His explanation for variations in suicide rates was different levels of social integration. In some societies people are tied more closely to each other through organisations like the family and religion than in other societies.

  2. Scholarly detachment in scientific research.

    This would leave our work to be read by both those who agreed and disagreed with our method and leave room still for controversy. Maybe sociology would be split up into sociology of knowledge for those who are governed, according to Smith, and sociology of the mind, or to some extent like that where there would be two groups.

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