Alternative Theories of Methodology Are Far More Useful for Gaining an Understanding of Society Today Than Those Used by Positivists and Interpretivists

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Alternative theories of methodology are far more useful for gaining an understanding of society today than those used by positivists and interpretivists. To what extent do sociological arguments support this view of social research (33 Marks?)

Positivism is a philosophy of science and a theory of methodology which suggests that social behaviour should be researched according to the principles of natural science, whereas interpretivism is an alternative to the positivist scientific tradition, interpretivists argue society cannot be studied in the same way as objects in natural interactions. However alternative theories of methodologies e.g.: Realism, Feminism, social constructionism and methodological cosmopolitanism are said to be better useful ways for gaining an understanding of society today then positivists and interpretivists. Positivism is a philosophy of science and a theory of methodology which suggests that social behaviour should be researched according to the principles of natural science. For example Comte a positivists who first used the word ‘sociology’, argued that sociology should be based on the methodology of the natural sciences. As this would result in positive science society and would reveal invariable laws and could use the research to control and improve society. Positivists assumptions on the subject matter is that people are the subjects of social forces beyond their control, for example Durkheim (1874) tried to establish sociology as a distinct discipline with his famous study Le Suicide (using a positivists approach). Durkheim believed that Comte had not successfully established sociology as a scientific discipline as that sociology could be objective as the natural science so long as we study social facts as ‘things’, this approach involves the detailed inquiry into ‘things; just like objects in the natural science. This impacts…...

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