Posted at 10.14.2018
Sociology is researched as a interpersonal technology; however its status as a research may be questioned in comparison with how scientists analyze the natural world. To be able to determine whether or not sociology is a true science it is first necessary to make comparisons between your examinations carried out by both natural scientists and sociologists and discuss some of the ideas and perspectives around this issue. During this part the views of sociologists such as Durkheim, Comte and Weber will be investigated and a synopsis of the ideas of positivists, interpretivists and realists will get.
The natural world is accepted as what can be sensed and seen. Researchers examine the natural world using an experimental and factual procedure and analyse the workings of dynamics before getting each bottom line they make, for example, a biologist can research a cell since it is seen under a microscope and experiments have been carried out to show that it exists. Natural scientists study things in the quest for knowledge.
Society differs from the natural world as it is not a thing; rather a grouping of humans and its study investigates activities such as people's behaviour. Behaviour does not take physical form like a cell does therefore it could be argued that it does not exist, however on the other hands it is argued that behavior does can be found as chemicals inside the physical brain and therefore can be analyzed scientifically.
There are extensive different views when it comes to check out the question of whether Sociology should be classed as a Science. It really is thought by many that there are two separate colleges of thought when considering the subject of Sociology. Firstly, there is certainly the idea that Sociology is dependant on fact and results gathered by using evaluation and quantitive data and secondly the recommendation that Sociology is dependant on qualitative data and the need to understand the why, where and how's of population.
Today there are few sociologists that are prepared to label themselves positivists, yet one of the founders of sociology- Auguste Comte, called himself a positivist as he wanted sociologists to develop formal and abstract theory that could be used to remake population.
Positivists believe that Sociology is a knowledge and that we now have many similarities to the techniques of research utilized by scientists, although it should be known a positivist only studies a subject when it could be detected and reported on. Emile Durkheim sometimes appears by many among the greatest positivists to acquire lived thus far. Durkheim believed there is a need for quantitative data and in depth analysis in order to gain a genuine insight into society. Quantitative research in Sociology adapts traditional medical techniques and is applicable them to public research; this is clear in research methods such as surveys and organized questionnaires.
Durkheim comprehended that truth, data and results were an accurate way to analyse society. Durkheim argued that theory should be supported with research and information could only be collected by the analysis of data. He presumed that data accumulated should support ideas and act as evidence. Corresponding to Durkheim (1964: xiv), positivists view things "in the same state of mind as the physicist, chemist or physiologist when he probes into a still unexplored region of the clinical domain". Positivism shares many similarities to the experimental research methods utilized by scientists, most clearly in the attention to details when collecting data. Positivists can only study things that may be measured and witnessed, with the purpose of discovering what causes things to happen. Durkheim's study of suicide, printed in his publication 'Suicide: A Study in Sociology' (1897), found it to be the product of social forces external to the individual and found that a person's behavior is subject to external stimuli and their ideas and emotions are irrelevant. From this finding Durkheim drew the conclusion that behaviour can be objectively discovered and measured, similar to how a natural scientist observes and actions the entire world.
Auguste Comte considered Sociology to be the technology of modern culture. He appeared for an empirical thought process towards sociological issues and stated that sociology should only be concerned with issues where results based on data collation and facts that may be found. This methodical approach to Sociology has been very powerful with regards to the knowledge of the natural world. Comte believed this would be able to forecast the further trends and habits of contemporary society. He argued that positivism has three phases which he known as "regulations of the three stages", which "claims that individual efforts to understand the individual world have exceeded through theological, metaphysical and positive levels" (Giddens, 2006, page 11).
A clear declaration of the interpretivist position was provided by Hughes (1976),
"HUMANS are not things to be studied in the way one studies rats, plant life or stones, but are valuing, meaning-attributing beings to be recognized as things and known as topics. Sociology. . . handles meaningful action, and the understanding, description, research, or whatever, must be produced with consideration of these meanings. . . To impose positivistic interpretation upon the world of social phenomenon is to distort the essential nature of individual lifetime" (Hughes cited in Bilton et al p. 108).
Interpretivism disagrees with positivism and focuses on action theory. Interpretivists or anti- positivists take human being behaviour as worthy of study and see ideas, thought and mind as sociable constructs. They believe that Sociology is "the interpretation of public action" (Haralambos & Holborn p. 815) and that "social action can only just be comprehended by interpreting the meanings and motives which it is based" (Haralambos & Holborn p. 815). Interpretivists also assume that humans cannot fully understand the entire world as our own specific views are taken too much into consideration. Interpretivists claim that humans apply meaning to the earth and for that reason sociology shouldn't attempt to be scientific, as human behaviour is meaningful it cannot be understood just as the natural world can be. To interpretivists, the methods of natural technology have emerged as inappropriate for such inspection.
Gouldner believes that when a sociologist selects a topic to review and choses which tackle they will choose, they make 'domain assumptions'. They are assumptions people make about social life and behavior, a good example of this may be somebody believing that men are logical or irrational. Gouldner thinks that a lot of sociologists commit themselves to a particular domain assumption which will direct the way research is carried out and exactly how conclusions are come to. Area assumptions are also likely to determine whether qualitative or quantitative research methods are utilized.
When finding your way through and carrying out research, research workers must be selective, for example when writing a questionnaire, some questions will be chosen and some overlooked. These options are influenced by the ideas that your researcher detects credible. After the data has been accumulated the results have to be interpreted as they don't always speak for themselves. Interpretivists have argued that we now have many sociologists who impose their personal views on the cultural world and therefore may distort and misrepresent the reality that is being sought.
To inerpretivists, the study of human behaviour is too complicated to research with numbers as well as for quantitative analysis to be produced and for that reason reject scientific thinking and methods. Instead they imagine qualitative methods, which require a degree of subjective thought, are crucial when trying to understand world. Qualitative data, often gathered by techniques such as participant observation, entails an in-depth account or the transcript of an interview, in which a person or group's frame of mind towards a certain subject is noted. Interpretivists see this kind of data more essential as it is more likely to present a truer picture of people's experiences. A good example of this system is Goffman's study of the St Elizabeth State Mental Clinic (1968). He spent over one year at a healthcare facility, becoming involved with the everyday activities of the personnel and patients, this allowed him to slowly but surely build a full picture of the conversation between the personnel and patients.
Another problem that develops for interpretivists is the fact knowledge which is gained from studying the natural world has many diverse uses for example creating devices and medical restoration whereas the data of society does not show in physical form. For instance, you are unable to make a microwave out of knowledge and nor can you make a modern culture. Sociology allows us to understand why people respond in certain ways yet showing the validity of the knowledge is difficult. When an thing is built by making use of natural knowledge, and it works, then your science behind the thing is believed to be true, therefore as sociologists cannot produce a physical entity with the knowledge the truth of their knowledge can't be proven.
Sociologists believe that a researcher should concern themselves with individual cultural norms, worth and techniques that are looked at from a subjective point of view. Weber described sociology as "a knowledge which endeavors the interpretive knowledge of social action in order to thereby arrive at a casual explanation of its course and results" (1964 p. 88). Weber assumed that an explanation of social action could only get once a person had an understanding of the motives and meanings behind human being dynamics. Weber's anti-positivism set up an alternative solution to sociological positivism. Utmost Weber was a creator of the "Verstehen" method, which simply means understanding or interpretation. This method involves an unconnected person imagining themselves being in the situation of the individual they want to understand and whose behaviour they would like to describe.
Although there are two broad traditions that form the research carried out by sociologists, nowadays there are many bridges joining the two as it is recognized that all are valuable when checking out society. Realists admit that we now have differences between research and sociology although this process does indeed stress the similarities between cultural technology and natural technology. Realists such as Andrew Sayer dispute that there surely is nothing to disqualify sociology from being a science and believe that positivist's views about the nature of research are wrong. Sayer (1992) remarks that there are variations between "closed and wide open systems as things of study" (Haralambos & Holborn p860). An example of a 'shut down system' could be a scientific laboratory experiment, where conditions can be set and are seriously controlled. A couple of a large volume of scientific experiments that happen outside of controlled environments and these are classed as 'available systems'. Sayers debate would be that the behaviour of humans cannot be forecasted with any reliability as it requires place in wide open areas and that there is no chance of controlling every one of the variables that influence human behaviour. Realists do not totally overrule the fact that sociology can be called a communal science and they may dispute that sociology could be based on the same ideas as natural science.
Ray Pawson (1989) defined the view of 'two sociologies' as a 'methodological myth'. Therefore he will not consider two types of sociology can be found. He is convinced instead that we now have a range of views and assumptions.
As this paper has shown, Sociology can be viewed from both a methodical and non technological perspective. From the research completed I think that they manner in which you interpret knowledge effects the conclusion of which you will occur. Sociologists such as Durkheim, one of the founders of Sociology, analyzed the subject as a technology, which shows sociologists can study society in the same techniques scientists analyze the natural world; it is therefore irrelevant that other sociologists have chosen to study this subject matter as something apart from science.
If all sociologists chose to study society as a research then that would leave no person to qualitatively analyse population, therefore if it is important for some that sociology is accepted as a technology, then it must be separated into two; sociology that can be scientifically tested and whatever cannot.
Through the study carried out whilst exploring the study of the technology of the natural world and sociology, the study of society, lots of contradictions have appeared. Personally I believe Sociology should be known as a 'public science' as there seem to be problems that arise from sociology being classed as an all natural science.
As in natural knowledge, a sociologist's opinions are formed predicated on data and facts accumulated, it is not enough to just provide the idea of something that is only an opinion. In order to be taken really sociologists must show their conclusions with the assistance of data and observation. All humans have thoughts; therefore sociologists didn't find proof to back up their cases then anyone could be called a sociologist.
On the other hand, as mentioned before, controlled scientific tests cannot be carried out on society and although lots of the areas that are studied in sociology, such as individuals behaviour, are useful when trying to understand society, there are many different view points on each subject and therefore no one conclusion is drawn from every test completed. Humans are inherently subjective and for that reason just the accumulation of people's subjectivities and its own superiority over subjectivity in methodical methodologies is doubtful. In other words, value judgements are unavoidable in sociology and for that reason we can never have a totally objective science of sociology.