Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of a scientific approach to the study of society.

1607 Words Oct 11th, 2003 7 Pages
Scientific approach can be defined as the involvement of standards and procedures for demonstrating the empirical warrant of its findings, showing the match or fit between its statements and what is happening or has happened in the world. Scientific approaches to understanding the world can be distinguished from other approaches in two fundamental and irrelevant ways, firstly, an approach that claim to be scientific irrespective of whether or not it originates in the field of natural or human science must demonstrably have empirical relevance to the world. Empirical relevance involves showing that any statements, descriptions and explanations used or derived from this approach can be verified or checked out in the world and secondly, an …show more content…
Anthony Giddens contends that, the conception that sociology belongs to the natural sciences, and hence would slavishly try to copy their procedures and objectives, is a mistaken one. He based his objection in part, on the premise that we cannot treat human activities as though they were determined by causes in the say way as natural events are. He also contends that the rigid cause effect approach of the natural sciences cannot be imported into the study of sociology. According to him, institutions are a result of the peculiar ways in which groups in society structure their living. Society or social facts cannot be approached as we do objects or events in the natural world because societies only exist in so far as they are created and re-created in our own action as human beings. In social theory, we cannot treat human activities as though they were determined by causes in the same way as natural events are.

Much social theory including that of Durkheim is pervaded by a tendency to think in terms of physical imagery, a tendency, which can have damaging consequences. Social systems involve patterns of relationships among individuals and groups. Many sociologists picture these patterns as rather like the walls of a building, or the skeleton of a body. This is misleading because it implies too static or unchanging an image of what societies are like, because it does not indicate that the patterning of social systems only exists in so far as