Comparison Of The Three Major Sociological Theories

1817 words - 7 pages

SOCIOLOGY 303CLASSICAL THEORYComment on the three types of sociological theories, explain and argue, based onyour library or Internet research, which type of theory is the most appropriatetheory for sociology to adopt.The three general types of sociological theory are positivistic, interpretive andcritical theory. In determining which theory is the most appropriate for sociology toadopt, a basic understanding of each theory's strengths and weaknesses is necessary. Indefining each of these theories, it is important to determine the ontological basis or thetheory's basis for determining what is knowable; the epistemological basis or the theory'srelationship between the knower and the knowable; and, finally, the methodological basisor the theory's method for gathering data and obtaining knowledge.A. POSITIVISTIC1. Ontology.The positivistic theory is based on an ontology of being a realist. The realisticslant of positivism is also known as determinism. The positivist knows that a reality is'out there' to be defined and categorized. The hard sciences from the time of Newtonand Decartes have traditionally relied on the positivistic approach. The positivist hopes tobe able to approximate 'reality' in a detailed generalization or theory on how realityoperates. The theories of a positivist generally take the form of cause and effect lawsdescribing the outside reality. Robert Merton defined these theorems as 'clear verifiablestatements of the relationships between specified variables.'2. Epistemology.Positivism relies on an objective epistemology. The observer remains distant anddoes not interact with the observation or experiment. Values and any other factors thatmight lead to bias are to be carefully removed so that the cold, monological gaze ofscience can be used to analyze the data. The positivist is an objectivist.3. Methodology.The methodology of positivism is experimental and manipulative. The approach isthe same as propounded in most junior high science classes: begin with a hypothesis onhow 'reality' works, then gather data and test the data against the hypothesis. Thequestion propounded initially is tested against empirical data gathered in the experimentunder carefully controlled conditions.B. INTERPRETIVE1. Ontology.The interpretivist ontology is relativism. The belief, unlike the positivist, is thatknowledge is relative to the observor. Reality is not something that exists outside theobservor, but rather is determined by the experiences, social background and other factorsof the observor. Because of this view sociological law is not a constant, but a relationshipbetween changing variables.2. Epistemology.The epistemology of interpretivism is the subjective. The inquirer in interpretisimbecomes part of an interaction or communication with the subject of the inquiry. Thefindings are the result of the interaction between the inquirer and the subject. Realitybecomes a social construction.3. Methodology.The methodology of interpretivism can best be...

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