positivists and interpretivists



  • look for objective causes of human behaviour
  • explain human behaviour by looking for social facts external to individual
  • interested in finding patterns between variables – looks for correlation
  • overview of society as a whole and to uncover social trends

the data is...

  • scientific
  • detached
  • value-free
  • objective 
  • QUANTITATIVE eg. surveys, official stats
  • representative
  • reliable

they aim to reduce explanations to a limited number of causes- this makes the data easier to quantify

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  • interested in how individuals explain their own behaviour
  • explain through individuals own subjective view
  • interested in gaining an in depth insight into meanings and motives
  • aim for an empathetic understanding 

their research is...

  • involved
  • interested in feelings and emotions
  • aims for complex understandings

the data is...

  • valid
  • in depth
  • QUALITATIVE eg. unstructured interviews, personal documents, participant observations
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