Objectivity and Values

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Objectivity and Values

  • all members of society have beliefs
  • it is perhaps impossible to study sociology objectively

Positivist -

  • produce true scientific knowledge
  • this is desirable and achieveable

Interpretivist -

  • impossible to keep values out of research
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Values in Sociology - Interactionist - Weber

Values as a guide to research - what we select to study reflects our values, this is what we see as important

Data collection and hypothesis testing - values should not come into this part of the research nor into analysis

Values in the interpretation of data - the facts need to be in a set theoretical framework, we choose this and therefore this is our bias

Values and the sociologist as a citizen - must take responsibility for the harm they may cause

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Committed Sociology

sociologists should spell out their values

they should openly take sides

it is neither desirable or possible to keep values out of research

Gouldner - we need to express values or our services are at the bidding of the highest bidder

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Becker and choosing Sides

by not choosing a side we choose the side of the most powerful

most sociologists do this, i.e favouring police over criminals

it would be more compassionate to take the sides of the underdogs

however, we should not confine ourselves to only studying the underdogs , we should just be committed to ending their oppression

Objectivity and Relativism

relativism - each group has different views and so there is no way of judging absolute truth - post modernist

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