Positivism vs Interpretivism



  • Applies the logic, methods and procedures of natural sciences.
  • Comte - argued the application of science methods would produce a 'positive science of society' and show that society is governed by laws in the same way as the natural world. 
  • Durkheim - 'consider social facts as things' (social facts: social phenomena which exist outside individuals but act upon them in ways that constrain their behaviour. Social facts should be considers as 'things' in the same way objects and events in the natural world are. 
  • Society has a reality external to individuals - individuals can't do what they wish without having social sanctions. 
  • The scientific approach should follow the hypothetico-deductive approach.
  • Human behaviour is a response to observable social conditions and social behaviour is the result of cause and effect relationships. 
  • Direct observation should be used to study society. 
  • Only factors that are directly observable and can be statistically measured form acceptable data. 
  • Research should focus on the search



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