THE UNIVERSTY OF ZAMBIA
SCHOOL OF HUMANITIES AND
EMMANUEL WINA MUSHALA
MR. MATAA MWIYA
MONDAY 14 – 13 HOURS.
FRIDAY 16TH SEPTEMBER, 2011.
WITH EXAMPLES, CRITICALLY DISCUSS THE PROBLEMS FACED BY SOCIOLOGY AS A SCIENCE AND INDICATE HOW SUCH PROBLEMS CAN BE REDUCED OR ALLEVIATED.
This essay is aimed at critically discussing the problems faced by sociology as a science and indicating how such problems can be reduced or alleviated. In order to answer the question at hand, the definitions of sociology, science and alleviate will be provided. Then the essay will then turn its attention to the difficulties faced by sociology, there after ways of alleviating the problems will follow and the conclusion will sum up the discussion. Sociology is the scientific study of human social relations or group life. (Encarta Microsoft Student, 2009). Northrope (1955), defined sociology as a science that studies human societies and social behaviour. According to Giddens (2006), sociology can be defined as the systematic study of human societies, giving special emphasis to modern, industrialized systems. From the above citations, it can be observed that sociology studies human behaviour in society.
According to Giddens (2006:78), Science is the use of systematic methods of empirical investigation, the analysis of data, theoretical thinking and logical assessment of arguments to develop a body of knowledge about a particular subject matter. Encarta dictionary, (2009) defines science as a systematically organized body of knowledge about a particular subject. It is also defined as an activity that is the object of careful study or that is carried out according to a developed method. According to Gopal, (2003), a science is a body of knowledge about natural world and method of discovering knowledge and social institution organized around. To alleviate according to Encarta dictionary, (2009) is to make something such as pain or hardship more bearable or less severe.
Problems faced by sociology as a science come in different forms and include the following: According to Giddens (2006:78), People who are aware that their activities are being scrutinized frequently will not behave in the same way as they normally do. They may consciously or unconsciously portray themselves in a way that differs from their usual attitudes. They may even try to ‘assist’ the researcher by giving the responses they believe the researcher wants.
When it comes to research, sociology depends on humans and it might prove impossible to contact some of those to whom questionnaires are to be sent or those whom the researcher wishes to interview. (Ibid:80). A business firm or government agency may be unwilling to let the researcher carry out the work planned. Difficulties such as these could potentially bias the result of the study and give the researcher a false interpretation. For example, if the researcher is studying how business corporations have complied with equal opportunities programmes for women, then companies that have not complied might not want to be studied. The results could be biased as a result (Op. cit) Bias can enter the research process in many ways. For example, if a piece of research is based on surveys of a participant’s views, it may be easy for the researcher to push the discussion in a particular way for example, by asking leading questions that follow the researcher’s particular prejudices. Alternatively, the interviewee may evade a question that for various reasons he doesn’t want to answer. The use of questionnaires with fixed wording can help reduce interview bias, but will not eliminate it. (Cohen, 1968). Another problem faced by sociologists in research according to Giddens, (2006:80) is the non-response bias. Theis...
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