Objectivity and Values in Sociology

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  • Created by: em123
  • Created on: 24-05-13 21:00

The importance of value freedom

  1. Sociology's desire to be regarded as a 'science'.
  2. Sociology and social policy; if social research is not regarded as objective and impartial it is unlikely to be taken seriously or have an impact on social policy. (Is this true?)
  3. Problems of value freedom; the 'is/ought' debate. Any statement that Sociology 'ought' to be value free is itself unscientific and value laden - scientists can only make empirical statements about the world, any attempt at normative statements (how things ought to be) is unscientific

Should be Value Free:

Comte and Durkheim clearly regarded Sociology as a science; that it could be and ought to be a science. Central to this notion of Sociology as a science was the concept of value freedom - for example, Durkheim in 'Rules of Sociological Method' argues that facts can and should be separated from values. This idea of the objectivity of sociological knowledge is particularly associated with positivism and is clearly linked with its ontological and epistemological position.

Durkheim study of suicide


Values should be eliminated:

Weber argues that choice of topic must be influenced by values but that values must not influence the methods used particularly advocating the use of 'ideal types' for the comparison of social organisations in a value free fashion. Weber also argues that the sociologist should separate his role as a sociologist from his other roles; that Sociology should not be used as a means of expressing personal preferences and values.



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