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. 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. Sociology can be considered a science as it involve systematic methods of empirical research, analysis of data and the assessment of theories. In addition,it asks questions which can be quantified. because in sociology you scientifically study the behaviors of people in social groups. Sociologists utilize the "the scientific method, of research, hypothesis,induction, deduction, testing, and making conclusions. 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. Sociology also possesses characteristics that allow it to be identified as a science. These characteristics are also found in all branches of science. Theses characteristic are features which are used to identify a scientific research from mere speculation or common sense. Some characteristics of a science are empirical, theroretical, cumulative, objective and value-free. Empirical- this is knowledge based on solid evidence that has been obtain from objective and systematic research and not speculation. Theoretical- this is used to formulate theories, which are model that attempt to explain various social phenomenon. For example from Durkheim’s research on suicide, the four types of suicide found. Cumulative- builds upon efforts of predecessors. For example: Auguste Comte (1798-1857) first developed idea sociology and advocated the use of positivism in studying social science. Herbert Spencer (1820-1903) also followed Comte’s example. Emile Durkheim (1858-1917) later stated that society is made up of interrelated and independent parts, which he termed organic analogy. Talcott Parsons (1902- 1979) built on Durkheim’s work on organic analogy and founded the functional prerequisites of society. Robert Merton (1910-2003) refined Parsons’ theory and found the latent and manifest functions in society. Objective- the researcher is disengaged or unattached emotionally when conducting the research, thus the information obtained is unbiased, that is the values and preferences the researcher is not reflected in it. And finally, it should be value free- the researcher should discover and report the truth of the social issue and not offer moral opinion on social life.
Various specific positions of sociologists on the notion
Notwithstanding the general view that the notion of sociology as a scientific discipline, specific positions vary depending on how the relationship between science and sociology is viewed by DISCUSS THE NOTION sociologists. What follows is a brief excursion into the positions of various theorists and groups of sociologists on the role of science in sociology drawing mainly from Haralambos & Holborn’s (2004) delineation of the two broad traditions within sociology: sociologists who advocated use of scientific and usually quantitative methods and sociologist who supported the use of more humanistic and qualitative method.
Positivists: Yes, sociology is a scientific discipline.
Positivism and their adherents – positivists –advocate the adoption of the methods of the natural sciences in sociology in particular the utilization of quantitative methods. The essential rationale behind the positivist’s scientific approach is that the established and mainly inductive methods and procedures of science can be applied to the social sciences, ultimately to discover laws of human behavior. These laws of human behavior can be discovered in...
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