‘Sociology cannot and should not be a science’ To what extent do sociological arguments and evidence support this view? (33 marks) – Essay Plan
· Science is displaced by rational scientific explanations based on empirical evidence derived from observation and experimentation, logical thought and reasoning.
· Positivist and interpretivism are the two main theoretical arguments with regard to this issue. Positivism is based on the idea that sociology should be based upon the guidelines of the natural sciences. Whereas the theory of interpretivism would bring about the argument that the knowledge is based on people’s interpretations.
· The methods of the natural sciences are applicable to the study of people within society, and that it will help solve social problems and achieve progress by applying these methods in the same manner as a scientific theory or experiment.
· Reality is a separate thing existing outside of the mind, so society can be studied objectively as factual reality.
· A positivist sociologist would use scientific methods such as observations to study the patterns of society, in order to discover the laws that determine how society works. These cause and effect laws can then be used to predict future events and guide social policies made as a result of these predictions and past events.
· Durkheim studied suicide official statistics to investigate what causes a person to commit suicide. He believed that if he could show that there were social patterns and causes applicable to suicide; he would be able to prove sociology as having a scientific guideline.
· Interpretivists would challenge the positivist view as believe that the work of natural sciences cannot be applied to sociology as the studies of people is different; the natural sciences deal with matters that have no consciousness, therefore its behaviour and any effects on it is an automatic reaction to external forces.
· Interpretivists focus on meanings and people have their own internal reactions given to certain situations.
· Douglas rejected Durkheim’s view that suicide is a social fact. He believed that it depends on the internal meanings that would lead to the eventual result of a person committing suicide because it is something that can never be found out as it is impossible to define an exact reason why a person would choose to end their life.
· Atkinson also supports Douglas by following the ethnomethodogist view of interpretivism and looking at the differences between how coroners define suicide. He…