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Flashcards in Theory And Methods-Objectivity And Values Deck (21):

How do different theories respond to the idea that sociology can and should be objective and value free?

-New Right; increases competition, standards and choice.

-Functionalist; value the institutions and their roles that they play in society. Also meritocracy.

-Feminists; value gender equality

-Postmodernism; impossible to be objective. Objectivity is a meta narrative

-Realism; Be honest about your values

-Marxism; value equality and dis-alienated labour

-Interpretivism; value counts


What is value freedom?

Idea that the values can and should be kept out of research. Modern Positivists favour value freedom but others argue that this is neither desirable nor possible since values are necessary to select topics and to interpret findings.

-Desire to appear scientific; science is concerned with facts not value


Strengths of value freedom

-Avoids bias

-Use for secondary data

-identify trends and patterns

-can change convince; looking at data


Weaknesses of value freedom

-Lacks validity; use other methods

-harmful to vulnerable groups; lacks rapport

-need a motivation


What is committed sociology?

Claims that it is impossible not to involve value

Neither possible nor desirable to keep values out of research


Strengths of committed sociology

-Research is guided by values

-useful to express your own cultures values

*still helps to be clear about our values- person reading it can make up their own mind


Weaknesses of committed sociology

-Too demanding because many values are implicit(underlying)
Still worth being explicit

-is possible to keep values out of research eg ONS

-leads to ethnocentrism


Who are the underdogs?

Criminals, mental patients and other powerless groups


Who are the overdogs?

Police, psychiatrist and other powerful groups


What does Becker argue about values?

Values are always present in sociology.

Instead of seeing things from the overdogs perspectives, we should look at it from the underdogs. - Less is known about these groups and we should know their story eg empathising with mental patients can show the hidden rationality that psychiatrists may deem as irrational.

+gives everyone a voice


What does Gouldner claim about values?

Disagrees with Becker; Becker is only concerned with those negatively labelled.

Says that sociologist should take the side of those “fighting back”- political radicals struggling to change society.
Sociology shouldn’t just discuss the viewpoint of the underdogs but actually end their oppression

+sociologists should improve society


What does relativism argue about truth and values?

Different groups and individuals have different views as to what is true, they see the world through their own values

There is no independent way of judging whether any view is truer than any other

no absolute or objective truth, just truths.
What you believe is true IS true for you


What does Weber claim about objectivity and values?

Makes a distinction between value judgements and facts and he argues that we cannot derive the one from the other


Explain Weber’s “values as a guide to research”

How do we choose which facts to study? In Weber’s view we only select them in terms of what we regard as important based on our own set of values

*values enable focus and interest


Explain Weber’s “data collection and hypothesis testing”

Weber says that we need to be objective and unbiased when collecting facts. Once we have these facts we can test a hypothesis but we must keep our values out of the process

*do not want to prejudice research


Explain Weber’s “values in the interpretation of data”

Weber says that our choice of theoretical framework or perspective is influenced by our values

*if you’re using values be explicit so others know


Explain Weber’s “values and the sociologist as a citizen”

He claims that sociologists are humans that must not dodge the moral and political issues raised on their work. They must take responsibility for harm their research may cause


What was Comte and Durkheim’s role?

Their role was to uncover laws to resolve social problems and improve human life

Scientific sociology would reveal the correct society
By discovering the truth about how society worked sociologists would be able to say objectively and what scientific certainty what was best for society

*they say that science can improve lives


Strengths and weaknesses of Comte and Durkheim

-gives us information about society to inform policy

-there has been an improvement

-other areas can give us guidance eg philosophy


Explain Parson’s “AGIL”

Adaptation- the social system meets its member’s material needs through the economic sub system

Goal attainment- society needs to set goals and allocate resources to achieve them

Integration- the different parts of the system must be integrated together to peruse shared goals

Latency- refers to processes to maintain society over time. Sub systems provide maintenance( socialising individuals) and social tension management(letting steam off)


Give examples of Merton’s internal critiques of functionalism

Indispensability- Parsons argues that everything has a function but Merton says this is an assumption eg nuclear family can perform socialisation but so can other family types

Functional unity- Parsons assumes that all parts of society are integrated and one institution has a “knock on” effect to the rest. But some societies have complex institutions and it’s hard to see the link

Universal functionalism- Parson assumes that everything in society performs a positive function however some things may be dysfunctional depending on the group