Science Of Sociology Essay

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Science of Sociology
There are a number of different definitions of ‘sociology’ and they all have the fundamental idea of “the ways in which society operates”. It can be described more formally as the study of the development, structure and function of human society. Sociology is unlike some other sciences, such as mathematics, where a series of propositions will usually lead to definite conclusions. Sociology is often defined as a social science because it deals with the ways in which human beings interact with each other. It looks at the ways in which people make decisions about other people and why they interact in that way. In society, there is often room for disagreement because of differences and unpredictability in the ideas and behaviour
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In this context, what is meant by the term “science”?
Positive sociology is claimed to be a “scientific” approach. If we make the assumption that crime is related to deprivation, we are making a statement which can either be proved or refused by evidence. Positive sociology itself deals only with what might be called “positive” questions, those that do not rely on value judgements. Some of the early sociologists had very strong views on how society should develop and so whilst they might have used positive sociology they would also have dealt with normative sociology.
Normative sociology deals with value judgements. The statement, “the government should restrict social security payments even if it leads to higher deprivation” is an example of a value judgement because it is built on the basis of individual beliefs and cannot be scientifically tested.
Positive sociology evaluates by looking at whether the hypotheses successfully predicts the results. This has been useful in evaluating empirical evidence, but may have led sociologists to concentrate too much on easily quantifiable areas of sociology. Similarly, “the state should prosecute parents for not sending their children to school even if it means sending them to jail” would be a normative statement. However “prosecuting parents for not sending their children to school is an effective deterrent” would in principle be a positive
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