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University of Guelph
Sociology and Anthropology
SOAN 2111
Linda Hunter

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  Especia
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