Sociology & science

  • Created by: azarif
  • Created on: 03-05-18 10:07
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  • Sociology & Science
    • Interpretivism
      • The subject matter of sociology
        • Purpose of sociology is to understand & interpret unobservable meanings of individual actions
      • Verstehen & qualitative research
        • Verstehen= having an empathetic understanding i.e. researcher puts themselves in the individual's shoes
          • Researcher should be involved & produce subjective (interpret meanings of individual actions) data
        • Examples of qualitative methods: participant observation, unstructured interviews & personal documents
        • Strengths: qualitative methods produce in-depth & detailed data because it gives the researcher a subjective (interpreted) understanding of the actor's meanings behind actions.
      • Interpretivism & suicide
        • Douglas: qualitative data i.e. case studies are preferred because it reveals individual meanings behind actions & the 'real' rate of suicide than the official statistics
          • Criticism: Atkinson argues that the 'real' rate of suicide can't be known even using qualitative methods because the researcher won't be able to understand the meanings of the deceased.
    • Positivism
      • Patterns, laws & inductive reasoning
        • Inductive reasoning= data based on how society works via careful observation of patterns
        • Role of science is to identify patterns in reality via a systematic order
      • Verificationism
        • Refers to observation that confirms the truth (opposite of falsificationism)
      • Objective quantitative research
        • Quantitative data establishes cause-and-effect relationships to understand behaviour e.g. material deprivation is a cause of underachievement
        • Strength: quantitative methods are reliable because it can be repeated to produce accurate results
        • Researcher should be detached & objective, to not influence data
        • Examples: questionnaires, structured interviews, official statistics, laboratory & field experiments
      • Positivism & Suicide
        • Durkheim observed patterns from official statistics based on suicide rates
          • Suicide rates were higher for Protestants than for Catholics
            • Suicide rates weren't caused by motives of individuals but by social forces e.g. integration of individuals & regulation of actions
              • Result: Catholics were less likely to commit suicide because Catholicism was more successful in integrating individuals
        • Comparative method (comparing official statistics on suicide between various societies & the causes)
        • Criticism: official statistics on suicide rates aren't unbiased facts but are socially constructed i.e. via labelling deaths as suicides & ignores individual meanings
        • Criticism: Intepretivists rejects positivist view i.e. external social forces determining individual actions. Instead, individuals have free will & can choose how to behave.
      • Scientific methods are favoured because it produces correlations & objective (unbiased) data

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