Sociological Theory: Positivist, Interpretative, And Critical Essay, Research Paper
Sociological Theory: Positivist, Interpretative, and Critical
Remark 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 follow.
The three general types of sociological theory are positive, interpretative
and critical theory.In finding which theory is the most appropriate for
sociology to follow, a basic apprehension of each theory & # 8217 ; s strengths and
failings is necessary.In specifying each of these theories, it is of import to
find the ontological footing orthe theory & # 8217 ; s footing for finding what is
cognizable ; the epistemic footing or the theory & # 8217 ; s relationship between the
apprehender and the cognizable ; and, eventually, the methodological footing or the theory & # 8217 ; s
method for garnering informations and obtaining cognition.
The positive theory is based on an ontology ofbeing a realist.The realistic
angle of positivism is besides known as determinism.The rationalist knows that a
world is & # 8220 ; out there & # 8221 ; to be defined and categorized.The difficult scientific disciplines from the
clip of Newton and Decartes have traditionally relied on the positive
approach.The rationalist hopes to be able to come close & # 8220 ; world & # 8221 ; in a elaborate
generalisation or theory on how world operates.The theories of a rationalist
generallytake the signifier of cause and consequence Torahs depicting the exterior
reality.Robert Merton defined these theorems as & # 8220 ; clear verifiable statements of
the relationships between specified variables. & # 8221 ;
Positivism relies onan nonsubjective epistemology.The perceiver remains distant and
does non interact with the observation or experiment.Values and any other
factors that might take to prejudices are to be carefully removed so that the cold,
monological regard of scientific discipline can be used to analyse the data.The rationalist is an
The methodological analysis of positivism is experimental and manipulative. The attack is
the same as propounded in most junior high scientific discipline categories: Begin with a
hypothesis on how & # 8220 ; world & # 8221 ; plants, so garner informations and prove the informations against
the hypothesis.The inquiry propounded ab initio is tested against empirical
informations gathered in the experiment under carefully controlled conditions.
The interpretivist ontology is relativism.The belief, unlike the rationalist, is
that cognition is comparative to the observor.Reality is non something that exists
outside the observor, but instead is determined by the experiences, societal
background and other factors of the observor.Because of this position sociological
jurisprudence is non a changeless, but a relationship between altering variables.
The epistemology of interpretivism is the subjective.The enquirer in
interpretisim becomes portion of an interaction or communicating with the topic
of the inquiry.The findings are the consequence of the interaction between the
enquirer and the topic. Reality becomes a societal building.
The methodological analysis ofinterpretivism can outdo be described as hermenutic or
dialectic.Hermenutics is the survey of how to do interpretative inquiry.Dialectic
is brooding of the duologue imagined in the subjective attack and the demand
to prove interpretative theory against human experience. Max Weber described the
methodological analysis as & # 8220 ; a scientific discipline which aims at the interpretive apprehension of
societal behavior and therefore at the account of its causes, its class, and its
effects. & # 8221 ;
Through hermenutics, the natural information consists of description.The description is
made through the of course symbolic usage of language.The significance of the linguistic communication
is derived in portion by the society from which it arises.Interpretive theory is
tested by mentioning back to human pattern within the society.If the interaction
produces the awaited consequence so the theory is corroborated and frailty versa.
Criticalrealism is the ontology of critical theory.Critical pragmatism believes
that a world exists & # 8220 ; out there & # 8221 ; and is non simply relative.However, world
can ne’er be to the full comprehended or understood.Natural Torahs still control and
thrust realityand to the extent possible should be understood.
Critical theory is value oriented.Therefore, the critical theoretician is subjective
to the extent that the enquiries are governed and conducted in the context ofthe
values expounded by the theoretician.
Critical theory has a transformative methodology.The replies provided should be
on how we should live.The position quo is critiqued and attacked.Actions are
criticized because of the consequence they will bring.The transmutation is brought
about by doing social participants more cognizant of the linguistic communication and the universe
in which they live.By beat uping members of society around a common, clear and
& # 8220 ; true & # 8221 ; point, social unfairness and development can be eliminated.
POSITIVISM VERSUS INTERPRETIVISM
The positive attack is first-class for analyzing exterior informations that can
basically be utilized in an nonsubjective fashion.The rationalist is an first-class
doctrine for sing social tendencies andchanges.The monological or scientific
gazeis limited in its perceptual experiences and can outdo be used for finding when and
to what extent groups in the society interact.
The interpretivist, on the other manus, wants to cognize why things are go oning in
a peculiar society.The subjective attack allows communicating with the
cultural background of a society and an apprehension of why things operate.
An illustration of how the two attacks differ can be seen by analyzing
something like the local Mormon baptism rite for 8 twelvemonth old children.The
rationalist would state per centums of kids who participated in comparing to
the clip the parents spent in church.The hypothesis may get down that a higher
per centum ofchildren would take part in the ritual if their parents were more
active in the religion.Data would be gathered and tested against the
hypothesis.The decision would be that the information confirmed the hypothesis and so
the decision could be reached that the more active the parents, the more
probably that the kid would take part in the rite.
The interpretivist would study and analyze why the kids were baptized and
what the baptism meant to the participants.The concluding concept for the
interpretivist would be thatthe baptism signified a spiritual cleaning and a
new beginning and acted as a right of transition for the immature kids.
Both decisions are right, the consequences are immensely different.The rationalist
expressions at the outside of society, while the interpretivist expressions at the
interior.It is the difference between analyzing the electrical synapses in the
encephalon and cognizing what person is thinking.Both enquiries have there value, but
in the terminal, they are looking at different facets of the same subject.The
rationalist examines the exterior, while the interpretivist examines the inside.
Critics of interpretivism and rationalists attack interpretative theory for being
subjective and therfore being unreliable.This is non an accurate review. Just
as there can be hapless positive theories, there can be hapless interpretative
theories. Likewise, there can be good positive and interpretative theories.
An analogy to literary review is the best illustration.Literary review is
ever interpretive.A positive review ofHamlet would amount to nil
more than a catalog of the figure of times each word is used, the sum of ink
and the figure of pages in the story.It would state us nil about the power
and strength of the drama. Interpretative attacks of Hamlet can be either good
or bad. An reading that it is a drama about & # 8220 ; being happy & # 8221 ; would be a bad
reading, while a review on retaliation would be more accurate.The common
experience of people who have seen or read the drama helps find the quality
of an interpretation.While it is subjective, a sensible finding can be
made as to its value.
Positivism besides has some built-in troubles in maintaing the objectivist position
when making sociological research.Unlike physical scientific discipline which can mensurate
equations like Force peers Mass times Acceleration, human establishments are
replete with human subjectivity.Positivistic scientific discipline is a tool which merely works
for external scrutinies. Biesta and Miedema describe the job in this manner:
The point here is, that the scientific survey of human subjectiveness
has purposes that differ radically from the purposes of physical scientific discipline.
Physical scientific discipline purposes at control of a ( human ) topic over a ( non-
homo ) object.The relationship between the two can be characterized
as an external relationship, foremost because the object is controlled
by the topic, and secondly becasue the knoweldge acquired by the
topic in order to explicate the behavings of the object does non
influence the behavings of the object.
While effectual for the external analysis, positivism is missing in explicating
Probably, the biggest job in using positivism in a sociological scene
is the trouble with language.Language, by its really nature, defies
set uping empirical truth. Positivism relies on empirical facts derived from
observation, yet & # 8220 ; [ t ] here is no absolute manner to insulate the analytic, necessary
truths from the simply empirical. & # 8221 ;
Because of the built-in jobs positivism has been modified in the
postpositivism movement.The ontology is that of the critical realist.The
objectiveness is modified to acknowledge that it can merely be approximated. The
methodological analysis is a modified experimental which tries to carry on the research in
more natural scenes with more qualitative components.This postpositivism
remains an ideal methodological analysis for analyzing external constituents of the society.
POSITIVISTIC AND INTERPRETIVE VERSUS CRITICAL THEORY
The nonsubjective demands of positivism are straight counter to subjective
critical theory.Critical theory attacks sociology as a agency to ease
social change.A rationalist would instead detect from behind a thick glass and
base removed from the observation.
The declared intent of critical theory is to transform society into a better
world. Positivism simply wants to specify world, non redefine.Positivism will
be reductionsitic, while critical theory will be given to be holistic.The two
theories could non be further apart. The ends and aims are
antithetical.Balaban summarizes the struggle as follows:
Positivism and Critical Theory offer us a positive history of a
fetishistic society. The first accepts it ( evaluates it positively ) ;
the 2nd culls it ( evaluates it negatively ) .Positivism congratulationss
society, Critical Theory blames society.Meanwhile the human scientific disciplines
expect a true critical account of society.
Similarly, interpretative theory and critical theory differ.Interpretive theory is
looking at the interior to understand why.Critical theory is seeking to alter the
society.The difference is between seeking to understand and seeking 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 & # 8212 ; capturing the lived
experiences of participants & # 8212 ; so critical theory can by
characterized by its critical consciousness & # 8212 ; consistently
look intoing the mode in which that lived experience may be
distorted by false consciousness and political orientation. . . . If the
constructivist [ interpretivist ] methodological analysiss are preoccupied
with the Restoration of the significance of human experience, so
critical scientific discipline methodological analysiss are preoccupied with decrease
of semblances in the human experience.
All three methodological attacks involve precautions to modulate objectiveness.
This is non the same as objectivism.Each has its ain & # 8220 ; norms for continuing with
a peculiar signifier of enquiry in a rational manner. & # 8221 ; However, because of the
orientation of each theory, the terminal consequences will change.
Based upon these difference, critical theory does non look to be a theory that
should be adopted by sociologists.It belongs more in the kingdom of political relations and
legislation.Critical theory in that context could take advantage of scientific
enquiry by both positive and interpretative sociologists to do
findings about societal change.If so critical theoretician are to be
involved in sociological survey, full revelation of biass and aims
would be needed for any enquiry to be good and trusty.
Postpositivism remains the best attack for detecting the outsides of
society.Coupled with the interpretivist & # 8217 ; s position of the interior civilization, the two
theories working manus in manus would be most good for the sociologist in
analyzing society.Utilizing a double attack would be the most comprehensive and
give the scientific enquiry both deepness and span in measuring our societies and
making a functional organic structure of sociological research.