Sociology Being Value Free

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Sociology Being Value Free
There have been many assumptions that sociology is a science because
of the assumption that science is objective or value free. In
sociological research a problem arises when unconscious researchers
bias enter the hypothesis and research topic. Robert Bierstedt stated
that the results of an investigation or inquiry are independent for
external variable such as race, gender, occupation etc. Bierstedt is
quoted saying that ‘if his research is truly objective, it is
independent of any subjective elements that he may have’. Critics
could say that this definition of objective definition may revel
Bierstedt own values of patriarchal bias that he expresses in his own

Both Comte and Durkheim held that sociological research could be
performed objectively if scientific methodologies are applied. Marx
also agreed that social research could be performed objectively if
science methodologies are applied, but held very different views about
society to Comte and Durkheim.

Similar to the Positivists and the Marxists, Max Weber believed that
sociological research should be value free but did not think that
complete value freedom was possible to obtain in sociological
research. However he did believe that once a research topic had been
selected the research could be performed objectively. Weber wanted to
apply natural science method to sociological research, but he claimed
these methods could not be usefully applied unaltered to the social
world. This was due to his claims that people meaning some thing when
they interact with each other, unlike chemicals in a test tube. Weber
also argued that all researcher should not be forced to make value
judgment in relation to their research i.e. they are not required to
state what aspect of society they found desirable or undesirable to
research into.

Weber developed the term verstehen, which he described as attempting
to prevention of imputing meanings and values into research.

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"Sociology Being Value Free." 25 Jun 2018
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Gouldner was a follower of Weber he questioned what researcher are
suppose to express in their research if they are not suppose to show
any values in their research. He claims that if there was no values in
a researchers work, anyone who reader the research would not be safe
guarded against their own unconscious influences of political beliefs
etc. Gouldner claims that these values will shape the researchers
selection of problems and their preference for certain hypothesis and
the rejection of others. Gouldner claims that there is no such thing
as value free sociology, as all sociological research is based on
values a research holds about society. Gouldner wanted to reduce the
chance of biased in sociological research Gouldner claims all research
should be performed rigorously and retested to iron out and reduce the
bias in the research. Gouldner states that all researchers should
state their domain assumptions before they perform their research, to
reduce their own biases.

Becker was a labeller theorist he argued that sociological research
cannot be value free and that sociologist should aspect this fact that
it is impossible to do research, which is uncontaminated by the
researcher own beliefs and political values and sympathises. Becker
claims that no matter what perspective a researcher takes it will also
be bias toward one side of the research e.g. if a researcher was
researching into todays class structure depending on the researcher’s
up bring and own class will depend on where they will perform their
research. Becker claims that researchers will never be neutral and
value free because we are all human and our emotion will always get in
the way.

Gouldner then criticised Becker claim about value freedom in
sociological research he argues that although Becker makes it nowhere
explicit in his value free article whose side he is on. Gouldner
accuses Becker of taking the side of the underdog, although Becker
does not justify his own position. Gouldner claims that this is done
for two reasons. Firstly Becker takes the standpoint of verstehen (own
conception or reality), Gouldner claims Becker would recommend that
all studies should always be conducted from this standing point.
Beckers sentiments are always with the underdog, which Gouldner claims
creates a dilemma when performing research. Secondly Gouldner claims
that Becker will be creating a problem for his self if he sympathises
with the underdog as the social powerful are the people who fund and
allow researchers to the necessary sources. Gouldner claims that the
socially powerful could restrict or denies Becker access to his
sources due to his fondness to support the underdog, which would show
the social powerful in a bad light. Gouldner further accused Becker of
only sympathises with the underdog as he can portray them as victims
due to them being oppressed and passive, unlike the ruling class who
he would not be able to portray them as victims due to them being
powerful and politically active.

Overall sociology cannot be value free as none of the sociological
perspectives are entirely value free as they all include bias from
their founders, i.e. functionalists hold politically conservative
views that assume the existing social institutions serve a useful
purpose, this implies that anything other than slow evolutionary
change is harmful to society. Value free is a concept that was
developed by sociologist. Weber called this verstehen, which he
described as attempting to prevention of imputing meanings and values
in to research. Gouldner took Weber concept of verstehen and argued
that sociological research could not be value free, but instead the
research should be open about their dominant assumptions. Where as
Becker claims that no research will be free of the researchers values
as no matter where the researcher takes their standing point they will
always discriminate against someone. The more biases that enter a
piece of research, the more the knowledge that is reducible to the
values of researchers, where as the more rigorously the research has
been performed a higher value is placed knowledge obtained and higher
praise is placed on the to the researcher.

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