The Theory Of Science And Social Science Essay

The Theory Of Science And Social Science Essay

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Science requires ways of producing, analysing and data in order to test theories. Without a systematic way of producing knowledge, the findings of a study can be dismissed. One of the most debated concerns is whether or not social science should use methods similar to those employed by hard sciences - thus, leading to the emergence of two perspectives within sociology; scientific positivism, and humanistic interpretivism (Haralambos et. al, 2003). Despite, the divisions and the difficulties concerning bias, recent sociologists employ methods from both approaches in order to design the most effective research project and draw the most valid and reliable conclusions possible.

Positivism in sociology is an approach to study society advocating techniques similar to those used when observing the natural sciences (Browne, 2013). Positivist researchers use empirical scientific methods, and are grounded in the rational proof/disproof of scientific assertions and "assume a knowable, objective reality" (Babbie 2010). Sociologists like Durkheim stated that the aim should be to study the external social forces, that mould the ideas and actions of people, he named this notion 'social fact ', and believed these forces could be operationalised, and measured in numerical/statistical form (Browne, 2013; Schmaus. 1994). In 1986 he employed a positivist approach to conduct research, in his famous study 'le suicide ' - in which wanted to establish the social causes of suicide, using statistical data (Browne, 2013). Although it is important to note that he is not a positivist. (Haralambos et. al. 2003) Auguste Comte, 1830, held that the mental states; emotions, motives and meanings, exist only in a person 's consciousness, therefore, cannot be scie...


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...used discussions and interviews to clarify the concepts included in their questionnaires (Aldridge et al. 2001). The 'complementarity ' approach employs a variety of methods in order for different aspects of an investigation to be supported, for instance, surveys could be used to collect statistical data, while an unstructured interview is used to identify meanings and motives behind the statistical patterns (Haralambos, 2003).

Due to the limitations of practicality, ethics, bias, and the abstract concepts that come with studying humans, validity and reliability cannot be achieved perfectly, all social science researchers must allow their study to be open to criticism from others, as well as being self-critical. They must skilfully select appropriate methods to compliment, facilitate and cross-check their findings in order to produce the most accurate conclusions.

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