Is Sociology a Science

1655 Words Apr 29th, 2013 7 Pages
“The study of sociology cannot and should not be seen as scientific”
To what extent do sociological arguments and evidence support this view? (33 marks)
The debate about whether sociology can be represented as a science has existed for many years. Comte; who first used the word sociology argued that sociology should be based on the methodology of the natural sciences. He argues that the application of natural science methodology to the study of society would produce a ‘positive science of society’, showing that behaviour in the social world is governed by laws in the same way as behaviour in the natural world. He saw sociology as the ‘queen of sciences’ and considered it the last and most complex form of sociology to develop.
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Durkheim claims to have discovered a real law, that different levels of integration produce different suicide rates. He claimed to have demonstrated that sociology had its own unique subject matter, social facts, and they can be explained scientifically. Therefore positivists disagree with the statement that the study of sociology cannot and should not be a science.

Michael Phillipson observes the positivist methodology employed by Durkheim and other researches ‘ride roughshod over the very social reality they are trying to comprehend.’ He argues that suicide is a construct of social actors, an aspect of social reality. Official statistics on suicide are therefore not wrong or inaccurate; they are part of the social world. They are interpretations made by official of what is seen to be unnatural death.
Popper is different to positivists as he denies the possibility of creating laws or predictions that are true for all time. He argues much of sociology is unscientific because it consists of theories that can’t be put to the test with the possibility; they can’t be falsified. Popper believes sociology can be scientific as it can produce theories that in principle can be falsified. He argues that no hypothesis can be proven to be true as there is always a possibility of some future exception. However a hypothesis can be easily proven false as just one observation to the contrary of it can disapprove it. Popper argues that the aim of
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