In recent years, some persons have expressed sentiments that the study of sociology has no real scientific ground. This paper serves to examine the fundamental assumptions, as well as the possibility of Sociology being a science, but more specifically a social science. It begins by producing some definitions of the key terms, within the context of sociology, to which the student will make reference. The terms include science, social science and sociology. The paper then proceeds to compare sociology to the natural sciences, by establishing and assessing the characteristics which sociology has in common with the natural sciences.
What predictions can sociologists make about how people behave, and to what extent are these tested through blind studies? Are there any models in sociology, that make it possible to make predictions like the other sciences? Jake Gordon (2002) said in an internet article, “Sociologists study society as a 'social science' however, the status of sociology as a science is easily questionable when compared to how acknowledged scientists study the natural world.” Science, as defined by Giddens (2001), is “the use of systematic methods of investigation, theoretical thinking and the logical assessment of arguments, to develop a body of knowledge about a particular subject matter.” A key element of what constitutes a science is the ability to provide rational, plausible explanations. Sociology observes one of the most subjective factors we can think of, that is, human action and makes predictions, from which persons are able to generate explanations for human social behaviour. Sociology is outlined as the social science which studies human behaviour and interaction in groups. A social science being any or all of the branches of study that “involves an examination of human relationships in an attempt to objectively understand the social world” (Unknown). Gordon continues, “In order to determine whether or not sociology can be accepted as a true science it is useful to make comparisons between the studies performed by both sociologists and natural scientists on their subjects of society and the natural world respectively. At its most fundamental level, the philosophy behind knowledge, reality and being must also be scrutinized as the knowledge which is so eagerly pursued by scientists is only relevant under certain philosophical conditions.” Many of the leaders of sociology are convinced that it is possible to create a science of society based on the same principles and methods as the natural scientists. The attempt to apply natural science philosophies to sociology is called positivism. Positivists, such as Auguste Comte and Karl Popper believe that much of the same techniques and processes used by the natural scientists can be applied to the social sciences, namely sociology. They are of the opinion that social facts and the behaviour of humans, like the behaviour of matter can be objectively observed, expressed as a quantity and measured. These measurements are vital to be able to explain human behaviour. Research has noted that the positivists also believe that based on objective measurements, observations of behaviour will allow statements of effect and cause to be made. Then theories may be formulated to explain the observed behaviour. Therefore, with all this being said it is possible for sociology to be deemed a science. There are four basic features which sociology has in common with the natural sciences and which help to characterize it as a science itself. Sociology can be considered a science because it is empirical, theoretical, cumulative and objective. PRESENTATION OF FINDINGS
To begin with, sociology is a science to the extent that it gathers empirical information according to a rational process and develops hypotheses based on that data. According to Wikipedia, “the word empirical denotes information acquired by means of observation or experimentation.” Empirical...
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