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Is sociology a science? Key perspectives

There are two key perspectives within the 'Is sociology a science?' debate.

The first is the top down approach of Positivism which would say yes to the above question. Positivism believes that it is possible and also desirable to apply the methods of the natural sciences to the study of society to gain true, objective knowledge. Society is a factual reality that exists just like the physical world. To support their view, positivists employ quantitative methods such as experiments, questionnaires and official statistics to allow high objectivity and reliability.

Contrary to this is the approach of Interpretivism which argues that sociology is not a science. For interpretivists the subject matter of sociology is meaningful social action and this can be understood by interpreting the individual's internal meanings rather than the social causes. In order to do this qualitative methods are used such as participant observation, unstructured interviews and personal documents because of their rich, meaningful nature. Therefore these methods tend to be high in validity. 

Alice D. A Level Sociology tutor, A Level Psychology tutor

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