Полнотекстовый поиск:
Где искать:
только в названии
только в тексте
слова в тексте
только заголовок

Рекомендуем ознакомиться

Остальные работы->Реферат
Taken the span of history, there is no more important lesson to be learned.” The history of New York’s Corrections starts with the Fort Amsterdam Era....полностью>>
Остальные работы->Реферат
Gloria has Williams Syndrome, the daughter of Howard M. Lenhoff, the author of the article, was unaware his daughter had William’s syndrome as a child...полностью>>
Остальные работы->Реферат
In the United States and all other industrial nations, sulfur is a critical raw material. It is used in thousands of products and processes. Sulfur is...полностью>>
Остальные работы->Реферат
I believe that the boys’ society was doomed from the beginning. The greatest mistake the boys’ made from the start, is to try to replicate adult socie...полностью>>

Главная > Реферат >Остальные работы

Сохрани ссылку в одной из сетей:

Sociological Theory: Positivistic, Interpretative, and Critical

Comment on the three types of sociological theories, explain and argue, based

on your library or Internet research, which type of theory is the most

appropriate theory for sociology to adopt.

The three general types of sociological theory are positivistic, interpretive

and critical theory.In determining which theory is the most appropriate for

sociology to adopt,a basic understanding of each theory’s strengths and

weaknesses is necessary.In defining each of these theories, it is important to

determine the ontological basis orthe theory’s basis for determining what is

knowable; the epistemological basis or the theory’s relationship between the

knower and the knowable; and, finally, the methodological basis or the theory’s

method for gathering data and obtaining knowledge.



The positivistic theory is based on an ontology ofbeing a realist.The realistic

slant of positivism is also known as determinism.The positivist knows that a

reality is “out there” to be defined and categorized.The hard sciences from the

time of Newton and Decartes have traditionally relied on the positivistic

approach.The positivist hopes to be able to approximate “reality” in a detailed

generalization or theory on how reality operates.The theories of a positivist

generallytake the form of cause and effect laws describing the outside

reality.Robert Merton defined these theorems as “clear verifiable statements of

the relationships between specified variables.”


Positivism relies onan objective epistemology.The observer remains distant and

does not interact with the observation or experiment.Values and any other

factors that might lead to bias are to be carefully removed so that the cold,

monological gaze of science can be used to analyze the data.The positivist is an



The methodology of positivism is experimental and manipulative. The approach is

the same as propounded in most junior high science classes:begin with a

hypothesis on how “reality” works, then gather data and test the data against

the hypothesis.The question propounded initially is tested against empirical

data gathered in the experiment under carefully controlled conditions.



The interpretivist ontology is relativism.The belief, unlike the positivist, is

that knowledge is relative to the observor.Reality is not something that exists

outside the observor, but rather is determined by the experiences, social

background and other factors of the observor.Because of this view sociological

law is not a constant, but a relationship between changing variables.


The epistemology of interpretivism is the subjective.The inquirer in

interpretisim becomes part of an interaction or communication with the subject

of the inquiry.The findings are the result of the interaction between the

inquirer and the subject. Reality becomes a social construction.


The methodology ofinterpretivism can best be described as hermenutic or

dialectic.Hermenutics is the study of how to make interpretive inquiry.Dialectic

is reflective of the dialogue imagined in the subjective approach and the need

to test interpretive theory against human experience. Max Weber described the

methodology as “a science which aims at the interpretative understanding of

social conduct and thus at the explanation of its causes, its course, and its


Through hermenutics, the raw data consists of description.The description is

made through the naturally symbolic use of language.The meaning of the language

is derived in part by the society from which it arises.Interpretive theory is

tested by referring back to human practice within the society.If the interaction

produces the anticipated result then the theory is corroborated and vice versa.



Criticalrealism is the ontology of critical theory.Critical realism believes

that a reality exists “out there” and is not merely relative.However, reality

can never be fully comprehended or understood.Natural laws still control and

drive realityand to the extent possible should be understood.


Critical theory is value oriented.Therefore, the critical theorist is subjective

to the extent that the inquiries are governed and conducted in the context ofthe

values expounded by the theorist.


Critical theory has a transformative methodology.The answers provided should be

on how we should live.The status quo is critiqued and attacked.Actions are

criticized because of the result they will bring.The transformation is brought

about by making societal participants more aware of the language and the world

in which they live.By rallying members of society around a common, clear and

“true” point, societal injustice and exploitation can be eliminated.


The positivistic approach is excellent for examining exterior data that can

essentially be utilized in an objective fashion.The positivist is an excellent

philosophy for viewing societal trends andchanges.The monological or scientific

gazeis limited in its perceptions and can best be used for determining when and

to what extent groups in the society interact.

The interpretivist, on the other hand, wants to know why things are happening in

a particular society.The subjective approach allows communication with the

cultural background of a society and an understanding of why things operate.

An illustration of how the two approaches differ can be seen by examining

something like the local Mormon baptism ritual for 8 year old children.The

positivist would tell percentages of children who participated in comparison to

the time the parents spent in church.The hypothesis may begin that a higher

percentage ofchildren would participate in the ritual if their parents were more

active in the religion.Data would be gathered and tested against the

hypothesis.The conclusion would be that the data confirmed the hypothesis and so

the conclusion could be reached that the more active the parents , the more

likely that the child would participate in the ritual.

The interpretivist would survey and examine why the children were baptized and

what the baptism meant to the participants.The final construct for the

interpretivist would be thatthe baptism signified a religious cleansing and a

new beginning and acted as a right of passage for the young children.

Both conclusions are correct, the results are vastly different.The positivist

looks at the exterior of society, while the interpretivist looks at the

interior.It is the difference between examining the electrical synapses in the

brain and knowing what someone is thinking.Both inquiries have there value, but

in the end, they are looking at different aspects of the same subject.The

positivist examines the exterior, while the interpretivist examines the interior.

Critics of interpretivism and positivists attack interpretive theory for being

subjective and therfore being unreliable.This is not an accurate critique. Just

as there can be poor positivistic theories, there can be poor interpretive

theories. Likewise, there can be good positivistic and interpretive theories.

An analogy to literary critique is the best illustration.Literary critique is

always interpretive.A positivistic critique ofHamlet would amount to nothing

more than a catalog of the number of times each word is used, the amount of ink

and the number of pages in the story.It would tell us nothing about the power

and strength of the play. Interpretive approaches of Hamlet can be either good

or bad. An interpretation that it is a play about “being happy” would be a bad

interpretation, while a critique on revenge would be more accurate.The common

experience of people who have seen or read the play helps determine the quality

of an interpretation.While it is subjective, a reasonable determination can be

made as to its value.

Positivism also has some inherent difficulties in maintaing the objectivist view

when doing sociological research.Unlike physical science which can measure

equations like Force equals Mass times Acceleration, human institutions are

replete with human subjectivity.Positivistic science is a tool which only works

for external examinations. Biesta and Miedema describe the problem in this way:

The point here is, that the scientific study of human subjectivity

has aims that differ radically from the aims of physical science.

Physical science aims at control of a (human) subject over a (non-

human) object.The relationship between the two can be characterized

as an external relationship, firstly because the object is controlled

by the subject, and secondly becasue the knoweldge acquired by the

subject in order to explain the behavings of the object does not

influence the behavings of the object.

While effective for the external analysis,positivism is lacking in explaining

social behavior.

Probably, the biggest problem in utilizing positivism in a sociological setting

is the difficulty with language.Language, by its very nature, defies

establishing empirical truth. Positivism relies on empirical facts derived from

observation, yet “[t]here is no absolute way to isolate the analytic, necessary

truths from the merely empirical.”

Because of the inherent problems positivism has been modified in the

postpositivism movement.The ontology is that of the critical realist.The

objectivity is modified to recognize that it can only be approximated. The

methodology is a modified experimental which tries to conduct the research in

more natural settings with more qualitative components.This postpositivism

remains an ideal methodology for examining external components of the society.


The objective requirements of positivism are directly antagonistic to subjective

critical theory.Critical theory approaches sociology as a means to facilitate

societal change.A positivist would rather observe from behind a thick glass and

stand removed from the observation.

The stated purpose of critical theory is to transform society into a better

reality. Positivism merely wants to define reality, not redefine.Positivism will

be reductionsitic, while critical theory will tend to be holistic.The two

theories could not be farther apart. The goals and objectives are

antithetical.Balaban summarizes the conflict as follows:

Positivism and Critical Theory offer us a positivistic account of a

fetishistic society. The first accepts it (evaluates it positively);

the second rejects it (evaluates it negatively).Positivism praises

society, Critical Theory blames society.Meanwhile the human sciences

await a true critical explanation of society.

Likewise, interpretive theory and critical theory differ.Interpretive theory is

looking at the inside to understand why.Critical theory is trying to change the

society.The difference is between trying to understand and trying to

change.Thomas R. Schwandt described the difference betweeen the two theories as


If constructivism [interpretivism]can be characterized by its

concern with a hermeneutic consciousness — capturing the lived

experiences of participants — then critical theory can by

characterized by its critical consciousness — systematically

investigating the manner in which that lived experience may be

distorted by false consciousness and ideology. . . . If the

constructivist [interpretivist] methodologies are preoccupied

with the restoration of the meaning of human experience, then

critical science methodologies are preoccupied with reduction

of illusions in the human experience.


All three methodological approaches involve safeguards to regulate objectivity.

This is not the same as objectivism.Each has its own “norms for proceeding with

a particular form of inquiry in a rational manner.”However, because of the

orientation of each theory, the end results will vary.

Based upon these difference, critical theory does not seem to be a theory that

should be adopted by sociologists.It belongs more in the realm of politics and

legislation.Critical theory in that context could take advantage of scientific

inquiry by both positivistic and interpretive sociologists to make

determinations about social change.If indeed critical theorist are to be

involved in sociological study, full disclosure of prejudices and objectives

would be needed for any inquiry to be beneficial and trustworthy.

Postpositivism remains the best approach for observing the exteriors of

society.Coupled with the interpretivist’s view of the interior culture, the two

theories working hand in hand would be most beneficial for the sociologist in

examining society.Utilizing a dual approach would be the most comprehensive and

give the scientific inquiry both depth and span in evaluating our societies and

creating a useable body of sociological research.

Загрузить файл

Похожие страницы:

  1. What Is Sociology Essay Research Paper A

    Реферат >> Остальные работы
    ... general types of sociological theory are positivistic, interpretive and critical theory. In determining which ... data and obtaining knowledge. A. POSITIVISTIC 1. Ontology. The positivistic theory is based on an ...
  2. Sociological Methodology Essay Research Paper In

    Реферат >> Остальные работы
    ... a through understanding of sociological methods and???????? to look ... of a matter. Anti-positivists use qualitative methods of research ... services supports Goffman?s theory that women?s hands ... knowledge and understanding. Theories from other sociologists give ...
  3. Social Research Essay Research Paper AISHA GITTENSHIPPOLYTETaking

    Реферат >> Остальные работы
    ... to understand the production of sociological knowledge one must first examine ... very different from the positivist theory. Positivists assume it is possible to ... routinely male-biased in malestream sociology, all they are doing is ...
  4. Karl Marx Essay Research Paper Essay on

    Реферат >> Остальные работы
    ... questions of economics and sociology on a footing of ... most important contribution to sociological theory was his general mode of ... These sources of Durkheim’s sociological reflections, never remote from ... idol of sociology as did the positivists schooled by ...
  5. The Main Difficulties Of Using The Interactionist

    Реферат >> Остальные работы
    ... of conventioal sociology was intended as a radical departure from positivistic notions inherent ... along with a stigmatised label”. Labelling theory is assuming, therefore, that the ... involved the combination of Marxist theory with the most useful aspects ...

Хочу больше похожих работ...

Generated in 0.0026631355285645