Is Sociology a Science?
ALAN SCOTT (1990)
The main arguments for and against the view that Sociology is a Science:-
'Unity Science Hypothesis'
Claim: All sciences, whether 'natural' or social, share a common method. This claim has a number of aspects:-
1. Science causally explains: i.e. it identifies regular patterns between events ('positivism') OR identifies underlying causal connections between phenomena ('realism').
2. Objectivity: The scientist remains distant from his/her object of study, after all one can't enter into a communication or personal relation with the world of things. Social science should model itself on this subject/object relationship.
3. Value freedom: Science provides knowledge of facts: i.e. of what is not what ought to be. While most science can tell us the most efficient way of achieving our ends, it cannot tell us what those ends should be.
Humanist and Radical view.
Claim: There is a fundamental distinction between the natural and social sciences. The latter cannot, nor should they, aspire to value-free explanation:
1. Social science meaningfully interprets: regular patterns between events tell us nothing unless we can show that they have a meaning fir the social actors. The aim of Sociology is to reveal the meanings which actors attach to their actions.
2. Subjectivity: the relationship between the Sociologist and his/her subject matter is a relationship between subjects who can communicate and do share a common world. Social sciences are necessarily 'ego involving', and the ultimate test of the validity of their claims lies in our ability to convince the wider community.
3. There is no strict distinction between facts and values or means and ends: we cannot shirk ethical responsibility for social scientific research. To try to do so allows the agenda to be set by the powerful and influential on whose side we shall then tacitly be.
TWO TYPES OF CRITICISM:
1. Humanist: The humanist...