There can be no doubt regarding the respect in which the founders of sociology held science. Auguste Comte, founder of the term sociology, believed that .”.. scientific knowledge about society could be accumulated and used to improve human existence.” (vanKiren et al, 2000, pg 588) Due to the differing subject matter of the social sciences to that of the natural sciences, many sociologist believe that the methods used by natural sciences to conduct research are inappropriate and limited when concerned with human behaviour. However, all sociologists do not share the same opinion or paradigm. In fact there are several schools of thought held by sociologists with regard to the accurate gathering and analysis of data. These views can be widely categorised to include: SS Functionalist, quanta tive or scientific approach SS Humanistic, qualitative or interpretive approach Functionalism is a perspective that regards empirical data and sensory facts as the only valid and reliable data that can be gathered.
Functionalists believe that .”.. sociologists should aim at establishing general laws describing human behaviour from which predictions can be made.” (Spratt, 1997, pg 145) One such influential sociologist is Emile Durkheim. “Durkheim (1982) believed that sociology should be the objective study of ‘social facts’ rather than the study of individuals.” (Jureidini, 1997, pg 27) He defined the term ‘social fact to be… “every way of acting, fixed or not, capable of exercising on the individual an external constraint… while at the same time existing in it’s own right independent of it’s individual manifestations.” (Durkheim, 1966) This definition constitutes the idea that things such as morals, laws, customs, beliefs and fashions exist on their own and can be empirically studied. Functionalists believe that objective observation and measurement of the social world is not possible.
Erving Goffman's contribution into the notion of the social interaction The aim of the present paper is to look through the sociological notions provided by Goffman through his books, especially in relation to the social interaction. It is essential to critically evaluate the contribution which Goffman has made through his dramaturgical theory of social interaction and through the development of ...
Under the banner of functionalism, includes the Marxist theory, compiled be Karl Marx and the various feminist theories and collective ideas. Methodology commonly used by functionalists consists of a hypothesis to be tested and analysed. Clinical testing with two or more variables that are controlled by the researcher does this. Interpretive perspective or humanists, on the other hand, believes the basis of sociology is the interpretation of social actions.
Humanists feel the need for sociologists to explain the meaning behind human behaviours and not just that they occurred. They feel that the subject matter of the social sciences (human behaviour) is too different for the use of the natural sciences (physical entities) research methods. A fundamental sociologist in favour of this perspective is Max Weber, who firmly believes that the focus should be on the individual rather than on collectives. “He emphasised the importance of recognising that human beings have a level of ‘free will’, which allows them to make decisions for themselves.
People do things that are meaningful to them.” (Jureidini, 1997, pg 59) Another prominent sociologist in favour of a humanistic approach is Anthony Giddens. Giddens has stated that .”.. any approach to the social sciences which seeks to express their epistemology and ambitions as directly similar to those of the science of nature is condemned to failure in it’s own terms, and can only result in a limited understanding of human society.” (Giddens, 1993, pg 19) Anthony Giddens suggested that sociology should look at the reasons why people behave how they do and not purely determine behaviour. Perspectives included under the general heading of Interpretive include Phenomenology, a more radical approach to interpretive research methods that disagrees completely with the use of any naturalistic research methods and Symbolic interaction ism, whose followers believe that individuals possess a self-concept…
... social science) and natural science. After this period, the teaching of methodology, textbooks and research ... (Dick McCullough ). Qualitative research “often implies interpretive procedures, relativistic assumptions, and are ... is about understanding reasons for behaviour and lastly there is Constructivism ... form of research is orientated to understanding human nature. Qualitative research tends not ...
which is built up or modified in the process of interaction with other members of society. (van Krieken et al, 2000, pg 595) Interpretive research .”.. attempts to understand the meanings that people bring to their environment and is often descriptive.” (Spratt, 1997, pg 150) Methodology commonly used amongst interpretive research involves field tests, participant observation, personal and detailed interviews to become familiar with the subjects. Comparisons to the natural sciences are inevitable as all disciplines stemmed throughout history from the one discipline of science. However, sociology is a combination of both interpretive and functionalist perspectives and when effectively applied to methodology one is able to make sense of human behaviour. Sociology by definition is .”..
the description and analysis of the social forces that shape human behaviour in contemporary social life” (vanKrieken et al, 2000, pg 5) Sociologists are interested in looking at society as both individuals and groups and their effects on society as a whole. To do this appropriately and in enough detail, a combination of function ist and interpretive methodology must be used. Because all humans enjoy the freedom of choice and the agency to defy rational thought, it becomes extremely difficult to construct laws of human behaviour, as was preferred by the functionalists. Cause and effect might never be the same for all human beings.
II) Sociology is the study of social behavior, which means it describes and explains society, or the rules of the group. Social behavior is any behavior that has been, or is being, conditions to any degree by interaction with others. When you read this definition you begin to understand the complexity of sociology. We deal with sociology every day of our lives, since we are always doing or ...
Thus, the classic experimental mode of science would most likely not be appropriate and is unable to tell us the important information of why a subject responds in a certain manner. “An empirical science cannot tell anyone what he should do – rather what he can do… .” (Weber, 1949).
For research to attempt to be objective, the influence of the researcher should not occur. A range of interpretive and scientific investigation will enable a more thorough and accurate result. Controlled laboratory testing on humans is unethical and highly unnatural.
People being controlled and studied under a microscope are going to behave differently than they would in their natural setting. Alternative methods involving surveys and field participation from the interpretive approach would be more productive. For these reasons humanistic behaviour requires alternative methods to the natural sciences whilst maintaining a scientific attitude to gathering and analysing empirical data. Research should be guided by a theory but should also study all aspects of the subjects available to have a greater understanding of the results they may find. It is therefore appropriate to say that the methods used by those of the natural sciences can be applied to the social sciences. Bibliography 1.
Farganis, J. 2000, Readings in Social Theory, USA, The McGraw-Hill Company. 2. Giddens, A. 1993, New Rules of Sociological Method, Oxford, Blackwell Publishers 3. Jureidini, R.
1997, Sociology Australian Connections, NSW, Allen & Unwin, 4. VanKrieken et al, 2000, Sociology Themes and Perspectives, NSW, Persons Education Australia Sarah McDonald Sociology Essay Anne Seitz 28 th March 2003 Student No. 4669851 Bibliography 1. Farganis, J.
2000, Readings in Social Theory, USA, The McGraw-Hill Company. 2. Giddens, A. 1993, New Rules of Sociological Method, Oxford, Blackwell Publishers 3.
Jureidini, R. 1997, Sociology Australian Connections, NSW, Allen & Unwin, 4. VanKrieken et al, 2000, Sociology Themes and Perspectives, NSW, Persons Education Australia.