Class Notes (1,100,000)
CA (630,000)
U of G (30,000)
SOAN (900)
SOAN 2111 (100)
Lecture

SOAN 2111 Lecture Notes - Critical Theory, Empirical Evidence, General Idea


Department
Sociology and Anthropology
Course Code
SOAN 2111
Professor
Linda Hunter

Page:
of 3
POSITVISM
Friday, September 14, 12
REQUIRES A COMMITMENT TO:
1) DETERMINISM
Cause-effect relations
Encourages social scientist to define cause-effect relationships
Looking for statistical correlations
2) EMPIRICISM
Empirical knowledge about the external world is grounded in what we learn from
our sense perception
Empeirira Greek work for experience
Refers to the attempt at explanation of social phenomena, the search for
regularities, and as much as possible, the search for casual relations that determine
them
Looks at probability not certainty
OBJECTIVITY
Objectivity is a goal never fully achieved
- No biases
- Consistent & reliable because it’s more statistical
SUBJECTIVITY
Subjective views guide the choice of research questions
- More about the self
- There could be biases
- Inconsistent because we might all have different opinions
POSITIVISTIC ANALYSIS LEVELS OF DESCRIPTION
1) ABSTRACT
General idea
2) PARTICULAR CONCEPTS
Identifying variables
Example: The number of hours watching a violent movie and aggressive behavior
3) OPERATIONAL DEFINITION
Measurement
Relating variables
Giving definitions of the variables (Example: What do we mean by violence?
What do we mean by aggressive behavior?)
4) DESCRIPTION OF SENSE IMPRESSIONS
CRITICAL EVALUATION OF POSITIVISM
Particularly by critical theorists
It’s inherently conservative, incapable of challenging the existing system
Critics ask: how can we assume that society has a “natural” order
Critical theorists prefer to focus on human activity
Always questioning
Don’t accept that the law of science is always right
Habermas - all knowledge is based upon human values
LIMITATIONS OF POSITIVISM
1) Human behavior is too complex for prediction
2) Humans respond to their surroundings
3) Social patterns change constantly
4) Being value free can be difficult
CRITICAL EVALUATION OF EMPIRICISM
Especially feminists and environmentalists have attacked “conventional” social
science
Sexist bias women founders p.4
Interest in variables implied forgetting about real human beings
DEFENSE OF EMPICISIM
Some feminists (advocates of sexual equality) were also empiricists
We need to return to the social sciences to search for explanations for causes
and effects in a real social world
Results of empirical research can be profoundly critical of the existing social
arrangements
- Doesn’t have to just be status quo
Social sciences cannot be value-free values will always shape the choice of
what is studied, and how
Still objectivity
- We must try to be objective as possible
EMPRICISM AND EQUALITY RIGHTS
Research provides examples of actual empirical work: hypothesis development,
data collection, and interpretation
INTERPRETIVE THEORY
The study of society that focuses on the meanings people attach to their social
world
Strives for understanding
Interested in how actions and symbols become meaningful
What do the symbols have in common to help us understand each other
Value orientation and social context
Use of symbols
MAJOR PRESUPPOSITIONS OF INTERPRETIVE THEORY
1) Sociological variables are defined by means of human language
2) Human actions become meaningful in terms of social rules
3) Human practice/activity
Weber felt that sociologists had advantages over natural scientists
Ability to understand social phenomena
Verstehen a technique aimed at understanding culture
CRITICAL EVALUATION OF INTERPRETIVE THEORY
1) Mainstream interpretive has given up on scientific technique
Because sociologists are trying to look more at relationships and their actions
We don’t need statistics
2) Tend to downplay or ignore large-scale social structures
PRACTICAL APPLICATION OF INTERPRETIVE THEORY
Technology and cybernetic information
Interpretive theory and communication is it liberating or isolating?
How do we “read” each other?