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Degree: Sociology (Bachelors) - Exeter University
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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.see more
Social action theories and interactionism can be defined as micro level, 'bottom up' approaches that focus on the actions and interactions of the individual. Importantly these theories are voluntaristic, therefore seeing indidvuals as having free will and choice; in other words our actions and ideas are not determined by society. Rather than being 'passive puppets' we are 'free agents', creating and shaping society through our choices, meanings and actions.
There are a number of threads within social action theory including symbolic interactionism, labelling theory, Goffman's dramaturgical model, phenomenology and ethnomethodology.see more
There has been a growing trend that moves away from the separated conjugal roles of the within the family towards the symmetrical family, which basically means more similar roles exist. These include women now going out to work, men helping with the housework and childcare and couples spending more leisure time together. Young and Willmott support support this view of moving towards joint conjugal roles from their research.
The symmetrical family has become a more popular family dynamic for many reasons including:
- geographical mobility
- changes in women's position
- new technology and labour saving devices
- higher standards of living.see more