Interpretativism and Positivism

A brief description of Interpretativism and Positivism 

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  • Falls under the social actions theory.
  • Favours qualitative data.
  • Looks at the 'individual'. For example, if a person failed their exams Interpretivists would look at the individual and reason why they personally failed. 
  • Looks at the meanings and motifs of the individual.
  • Uses interviews and personal documents.
  • High in validity.
  • Uses micro research.
  • High in value laden.
  • The research can build a rapport with the person that they are studying.


  • Kuhn
  • Weber (idea of verstehen)
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  • Falls under the social systems theory.
  • They favour quantitative data.
  • Use methods such as official statistics. 
  • The look the the 'whole picture'. For example, if an individual failed their exams, positivists would look at the whole of society to see why they failed.
  • Use macro research. 
  • High in reliability. 
  • Generalisable .
  • Representative.
  • Objective. 
  • Views sociology as a science.


  • Durkheim
  • Popper
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