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Chapter

SOC 1100 Chapter Notes -Antipositivism, Abusive Power And Control


Department
Sociology
Course Code
SOC 1100
Professor
Linda Gerber

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Just like the sociological behaviour in our society is studied based on its theories,
religion can also be studied from either a scientific or interpretive orientation. The
structural-functional theory relates well to this topic, as both look at the scientific
perspective, whereas the symbolic-interaction approach relates well to interpretive
sociology, as both involve society being created form interaction.
“Scientific sociology is the study based on systematic observation of social
behaviour” (p. 28). This orientation involves researchers gathering quantitative and
empirical data. Using this orientation to understand religion focuses more on controlling
behaviour. Religion gives people a sense of unity, as religious services involve people of
the same belief coming together to a place of worship. In the article “Religion in Canada:
Decline or Renaissance?” Reginald Bibby discusses that in a 50-year time span,
attendance to religious services has dropped a significant amount. However, although
attendance has been dropped, it does not confirm that people have just stopped believing
in their certain belief. It just goes to show, that as science has progressed, so have many
other applications, resulting in people not having to attend church.
For example, in the article, “Check the Media: Religion is Hot!” it discusses that
technology allows live religious programming to be displayed on television. There are
many variables in religion that make it difficult to scientifically observe. For instance, the
fact that the amount of people going to church has decreased can be correlated to the fact
that technology allows for live programming. Whereas interpretive sociology doesn’t
focus on the systematic style, and instead looks at how people build reality by attaching
meanings to behaviour. For instance, when studying sociology from the interpretive
orientation, researchers tend to look for qualitative traits in religion rather than
quantitative traits. A quantitative trait might be how many people have stopped attending
church, but a qualitative trait might be why people have stopped.
“Interpretive sociology is the study of society that focuses on the meanings people
attach to their social world” (p. 32). This orientation involves researchers gathering
qualitative data and would also involve the researcher being involved in the study being
conducted. This study tends to be more informative, as society cannot only be studied
from a scientific perspective. Since society is made up of the interaction of many people,
the study of this society would involve participation, in order to truly understand the
society. Also, this approach doesn’t require looking at many variables, which makes this
concept much better when trying to understand the topic of religion. Scientific sociology
look at what people do to support their belief, whereas interpretive sociology looks at the
meaning and behaviour people have towards their belief. Since religion involves a more
natural setting, the interpretive sociology orientation is more suited when understanding
religious.
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