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Flashcards in Theory - Sociology As A Science Deck (25):

What perspective sees sociology as a science?



What do positivists think about sociology being a science?

People are predictable, sociology should uncover trends, the researcher should be able to test a hypothesis in a systematic and controlled way, discover cause and effect.


Positivism - the period of enlightenment (18th century).

Period of discovery, development of of knowledge and understand of the world, people trusted science to explain how the world works through facts.


Positivism - early sociology and science.

Durkheim and Marx wanted sociology to be as successful as science, believed scientific methods could identify human behaviour patterns, help social problems.


Positivism - induction reasoning and verificationism.

Induction reasoning - accumulating data to identify patterns to support a hypothesis, gather data to interpret meanings and then conclude.
Verificationism - confirm and idea, prove something true, verify it.


Positivism - Durkheim’s suicide study.

Aimed to use objective research methods to study suicide rate stats to show personal acts have social causes. Concluded suicide rates are higher in areas with high social integration (and are lower in catholic communities).


Which perspective does not see sociology as a science?



What do interpretivists think about sociology not being a science.

People have free will and consciousness, seek to find individual internal meanings rather than external causes, methods that don’t allow detachment.


Interpretivism - subject mater of sociology.

Sociology is not a science, humans perform meaningful social actions, sociology job is to uncover the meaning of the actions.


Interpretivism - natural vs sociology.

Natural science studies large inanimate matter with no free will or consciousness.
Sociology studies people who have their own free will and can make choices about their actions and behaviour of their own accord


Interpretivism - sociologist Mead.

Mead argues people interpret the meaning of stimuli and choose how to respond, humans are autonomous beings who construct their own world through the meaning they give to it, not puppets of social cues.


Interpretivism - Douglas’ suicide study.

Individual differences are determines by their own free will, rejects idea to use quantitative data, stats are socially constructed and easily wrongly interpreted, suicide stats only show how the living define the deaths of others rather than why somebody ended their own life.


What do post modernists believe about sociology and science?

It depends on how science is defined in the first place.
Rejects science because is it a “meta narrative” so it is not any more valid than another view, science has created a risk society by creating world wide problems (global warming), claims monopoly of the truth and can be used to justify immoral actions.


Post modernist - Popper.

Claims systems such as religion politics and culture all believe they have true knowledge, natural science is superior, rejects verificationism (attaining evidence to prove something right).


Popper - fallacy of induction

Induction builds up evidence to verify a theory, so the fallacy of induction suggests collecting evidence contains errors due to judgements of individuals. Can never prove a theory right, only assume.


Popper - truth.

No such thing as absolute truth. All knowledge is temporary and can be refuted at any time.


Popper - falsification.

A scientific statement is one to be tested to be proved wrong, a good theory would stand attempts to disprove it and should make bold claims to be generalised.


Post modernist - Kuhn.

Believes in paradigms, scientists accept paradigms through socialisation, it defines what their science is. Advantage to following paradigms is to accumulate knowledge and understanding.


Kuhn - normal science.

Most of the time the paradigm isn’t questioned and scientists do puzzle solving within the paradigm.


Kuhn - anomalies.

Scientists find contradicting evidence, if too many are fund then faith in paradigm declines and it is questioned.


Kuhn - crisis.

Science enters a period of crisis and sciences must begin to create rival paradigms.


Kuhn - scientific revolutions.

One paradigm will win over questioning and becomes newly accepted by the scientific community allowing normal science to return with a new principle. “Paradigm shifts” similar to religious conversions because decision to choose new one is based on emotion and rationality.


Post modernist - realism (Keat and Urry)

Similarities between sociology and certain kinds of natural science in terms of degrees of control from the researcher but other than that do not believe sociology can be a science. Reject positivists view that science is concerned with observable phenomena. Reject interpretivists view that sociology and science are different.


Realism - closed systems

The researcher can control and measure all the variables and can make precise predictions.


Realism - open systems

The researcher cannot control and measure all the variables and cannot make precise predictions. Used when research processes are too complex to make exact conclusions.