AQA A2 Sociology- Theory- Sociology and Science

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  • Sociology and Science
    • Positivism
      • Comte advocated scientific methods
      • Reality exists outside the human mind
        • Nature is made up of objective, observable physical facts (atoms) which are external to the human mind
        • Society is an objective, and observabale reality made up of social facts which are independent to the individual like the outside world
      • Durkheim: Real laws are discoverable- scientists discover the laws of physics and sociologists discover the laws of society.
      • Believe reality isn't random but patterned and science must observe, identify, measure and record these patterns to explain them
      • Durkheim's study of suicide: Argued that individual acts like suicide can have social causes. Found that suicide was partly caused by religion as Catholics had lower rates than protestants.
    • Interpretivism
      • Sociology isn't a science as we can only understand society by interpreting meanings and motives of individuals.
      • Reject scientific methods
        • Natural sciences study matter with no conscious.
        • Sociology is the study of people who have a conscious so they can't be studied in the same way as something that hasn't got one.
      • Suicide:
        • Douglass: We must understand meanings not impose our own. Rejects the use of stats as they are socially constructed- Coroners use their interpretation
        • Atkinson: rejects stats. Argues we can only study how the living make sense of death not the reasons of the deceased.
    • Karl Popper
      • Induction
        • Collecting data from observation and measurements. As we start to understand society patterns emerge.
        • Popper rejects this method as it's not a true reflection of how science discovers the truth
      • Falsification
        • Science uses this as a theory can only be scientific iif it can be falsified- which sociology can't = not a science.
    • Khun: Paradigms
      • Paradigm: provides a dominant framework and methods for scientists to work through
      • Features: What nature is like, which aspects are worth studying, which methods to use and what questions to ask and the answers to expect.
      • Only one paradigm can be in operation at one time
        • Sociology can't be a science as they are unscientific and explain society through multiple perspectives.
    • Realism
      • Sayer: science theorise about phenomena which are hard to observe or predict.
      • Open science study things that are hard to see, sense of predict their behaviour.
        • Sociology is the same as they can't predict when or where change will happen.
      • Believe sociology to be a science as they are concerned with structures that are hard to see or sense directly (class)


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