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Using Material From The Items And Elsewhere, Briefly Explain Why Some Sociologists Claim That The Study Of Sociology Cannot Be Scientific.

716 words - 3 pages

Using material from the items and elsewhere, briefly explain why some sociologists claim that the study of sociology cannot be scientific.Sociology is often referred to as a social science. Whether or not it can be seen as a scientific discipline is one of the major debates within the subject. The founding fathers of the subject in the 19th century were however in no doubt. By following the rules and logics of the scientific method sociology could discover the laws underlying the development of human society. And in this respect it was a science just like the natural sciences of physics and chemistry which seek to discover the laws underlying the behavior of matter.Positivists claim natural science methods can be applied to sociology. They believe that social facts can be objectively measured and quantified. Correlations can be discovered through statistics, causes can be identified and lead to defining laws of human behaviour. Therefore sociology could be considered as a science.Auguste Comte who was a positivist argued that sociology should be based on the methodology of the natural sciences. This would result in a 'positive science of society' which would reveal the 'invariable laws' which governed the evolution of human society. Comte insisted that only directly observable facts were acceptable as evidence in his science of society. Anything that couldn't be directly measured such as subjective meanings and purposes was ruled out. The facts of society must be objectively measured and quantified. It would then be possible to identify cause and affect relationships and discover the laws underlying social evolution. He argued that society could be a science of society engaged in discovering the social laws governing human behaviours.However interactionists criticized social facts and say official statistics are constructed by humans who bring their own interpretations and meaning systems when bringing together so called social fact. If this hard evidence is produced by humans who use their own experiences and feelings in the process, then the starting point for analysis has to be that process. To ignore this is to provide false explanations. Interactionists like Atkinson believe the social facts Durkheim had in his study of suicide were...

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