Objectivity and Values in sociology

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  • Created by: Megan
  • Created on: 13-05-15 15:39
What do positivists say about values in sociology?
We can produce true scientific knowledge about society and it is desirable to keep values out
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What do interpretivists say about values in sociology?
because sociologists are humans with values, studying other humans with values, it is impossible to keep personal values out of research
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Name 4 positivist sociologists
Durkheim, Marx, Weber and Comte
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What do positivist sociologists see the role of sociology to be?
uncover the truth about the way in which society works and thus solve social problems and improve life. The scientific nature of sociology would enable them to say with scientific certainty what was best for society.
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What was Webers view on values?
A value can be neither proved or disproved by the facts: they belong in different realms. However he still saw values as essential in research
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What are the 4 stages of the research process that Webers views on research can be divided into?
1) Values as a guide to research 2)Data collection and hypothesis testing 3)Values in the interpretation of data 4)values and the sociologist as a citizen
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What is mean't by 'Values as a guide to research'?
What we select to study reflects our values on what we think is important/interesting
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What is mean't by values and 'data collection/hypothesis testing'?
Values should not come into this part of research. e.g. we should not ask leading questions to get the answers we want to hear
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What is meant by 'Values in the interpretation data'?
Values become important again when we come to interpret the data we have collected.The facts need to be set in a theoretical framework so that we can understand their significance and draw conclusions. We must spell out our values - unconscious bias
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What is meant by 'Values and the sociologist as a citizen'?
Sociologists must take moral responsibility for any harm they may cause
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Summarise Weber's views on values
He sees values as relevant to the sociologist in choosing what to research, in interpreting the data collected, and as a citizen in deciding how the findings should be used. But the sociologists values must be kept out of the fact gathering process
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What is committed sociology? Who argues for it?
Marxists, interactionists and feminists have argued for a committed sociology, in which the sociologist spells out the importance of their personal values to their research and openly takes sides by stating the values of particular groups
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What are the two reasons for modern positivists tending to argue that their values were irrelevant to their research?
1)The desire to appear scientific- science is concerned with matters of fact not value 2) The social position of sociology - by the 50's sociologists hired themselves out to other organisations, thus they had to leave their values behind them
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In GOULDNERS view, what is a value free sociology?
Both impossible (because their values are bound to be reflected in their work) and Undesirable (without values to guide them, sociologists are putting their services at the disposal of the highest bidder)
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What question does Interactionist, BECKER pose?
'Whose side are we on'?
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What side does Becker argue traditional sociologists tended to choose?
The side of the powerful e.g. police, psychiatrists etc.
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What side does Becker argue sociologists should choose?
The side of the underdog e.g. criminals, mental patients and powerless groups because their story needs to be told to redress the balance and give them a voice
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What sort of research methods would choosing the side of the underdogs lead to?
Qualitative such as participant obvs, as they reveal the meanings of the outsiders.
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What is there often a link between?
The kinds of methods sociologists prefer and their value stance.
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What does Relativism argue?
That different groups, cultures and individuals have different views about what is true and there is no independent way of judging whether any view is truer than any other. There is no absolute truth- truth is relative!
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What do interpretivists say about values in sociology?

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because sociologists are humans with values, studying other humans with values, it is impossible to keep personal values out of research

Card 3

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Name 4 positivist sociologists

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Card 4

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What do positivist sociologists see the role of sociology to be?

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Card 5

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What was Webers view on values?

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