08 Sociology & Science 02 (Interpretivism and Kuhn)



hello and welcome to this video on sociology and science interpretivism and cume in terms of the issues with studying society as a scientific subject we have here the problem of prediction in the Natural Sciences such as physics or chemistry lab experiments can take place to isolate causes and scientists can make accurate predictions based on the data they gather however human beings act differently and behavior cannot always be predicted so unlike working with say a chemical whereby if we heat it or we water it down we would expect the same thing to happen again and again irrelevant of where that experiment takes place when it comes to humans humans are unique creatures who respond very differently in often very similar circumstances so we can't always engage in prediction next we have the issue of artificiality sociology wants to study society in its normal state not in an artificial lab setting so whereas in the lab we can control all the variables in society or in a field study we cannot do that and so therefore there was always the issue that the moment you take a human into a lab it becomes an artificial experiment and an artificial study and your findings will be artificial too furthermore there are ethical issues to consider that is issues of right or wrong human beings may object to being studied in lab conditions or treated like a scientific experiment human beings have thoughts and feelings and they may not wish to be treated like some sort of chemical some sort of animal for that matter furthermore we have to consider the Hawthorne effect humans often act differently when they know they are being observed and natural objects do not do this a rock is a rock no matter who is looking at it but a human may behave differently if they know they're being watched next we have to consider the issue of validity so how true to reality something is people may not give information which gives a true reflection of the matter in hands scientific research is likely to be reliable over valid anyway so reality is someone could decide to lie or they could give you information which they believe to be true but actually isn't true and so in that guard we can never be absolutely sure when we study humans that our data is valid further criticisms of the idea that sociology can or should want to be a science is that sociology is so very different from the sub J matter of the Natural Sciences unlike objects people reflect and act on the basis of meaning so we create our own meanings we share meanings we do not simply respond to stimuli we have an interpretive phase to pull up on some social action theory sociologists also part of the social world they are studying and analyzing so in that sense they will have their own values and they cannot simply leave these at the door when they're doing their research and it may color their findings not all sociologists believe that humans are passive subjects of external forces which positivist tend to assume interpretive is take a very different view to human action than positivist they tend to say that we are again interpreting the world around us and we are labeling things and responding to the labels we create next some sociologists argue that the role of sociology is to explore the meanings that people construct rather than look for an external set of explanations so that is taken a micro approach zooming in finding out what does something mean for an individual how do they label things or what meanings do they attach their behaviors rather than saying well let's try and come up with a single set of explanations for all humans everywhere some sociologists argue that by attempting to study society in a scientific way it limits sociologists ability to study their chosen topic because it could well be that they only can see funding because certain types of study and that means they're not actually following their personal interested desires it may well be they're just doing what they can afford to do or they can get funding for and so therefore there may be whole realms of society that not being studied because people will be limited in this way so what we're seeing here is essentially the beginning of an opposing argument in the view of positivists they are contesting the view that sociology should be a science and this is going to be the basis of the interpretivist perspective so many sociologists argue that the subject matter of sociology is fundamentally different from the Natural Sciences and propose that we may have an idealized view of science in fact that actually science isn't special or perfect or particularly useful in certain regards in fact we should approach our sociology in a very different way so interpretivist would argue that people engage in meaningful interactions that all society is is the sum of all actions and interactions and we should be seeking to find out what the meanings are that people attach to their actions and interactions here interpretivist would argue that we should seek to try and gain what is known as the stayin this is the German word so Max Weber used it it was a term which he coined to suggest that the role of sociology is to understand partly by seeing through the eyes of those who are being studied so really what we're talking about here is empathy so not sympathy not feeling sorry for someone but empathy trying to understand what it feels like to be someone there's a very famous Native American saying which is you should not judge a person until you've walked a couple of miles or two moons in their moccasins that is walk in their shoes that you can only really understand what it means to be someone when you've lived their life and that's essentially what but staying is and what papers getting here it's open to subjective explanations of behavior different researchers may interpret the same event in different ways that's what sociology is not lighting like an actual science there is no one way there could be multiple views on things so the purpose of sociology would therefore be to uncover meanings postmodernists come up this with different angles we've got our positivist perspective we've had our interpretivist perspective and impotent modernists decided to chime in they reject natural science in its entirety saying it's just somebody's big story or meta-narratives that it's just one person's view of the truth there is no absolute version of the truth that is just a person who has a power and therefore would say this is true but does not necessarily mean we have to adhere to it sciences explanations are no more valid therefore than any other explanation be it religious political or otherwise then therefore there'd be no need for sociology to emulate it science often claims the monopoly of truth that is that it has the complete understanding of what truth is that it knows what absolute truth is or only it can discover it and actually we could argue this is a form of domination this is a form of those in power those scientists who have been given authority deciding what is true and what is not and so actually we have people who are marginalized those who don't have a voice and their truth is not being heard this then brings us onto the work of Thomas kin he rejected the view of science as a continuous process of hypothesis testing and Theory forming in the way that hats Karl Popper had posited most scientific inquiry he claimed takes place within the confines of a paradigm and this is a body of knowledge methods and theories which scientists hold to be true so all scientists today are working within the same paradigm it's like an umbrella under which there's all these ways of acting and behaving and seeing in the world and all scientists buy into it inquiry does not step outside the boundaries set down by the paradigm so fundamental theory does not change it is not challenged instead in many ways what people are doing is that they're engaging in puzzle solving so science consists of puzzle solving with the puzzles and the ways of solving them being limited to that which is within the boundaries of the paradigm so you only ask questions that the paradigm can answer you only use methods that the paradigm considers legitimate and you only come to conclusions which the paradigm will prop up you don't think outside the paradigm or think outside the box this would potentially because of the dangerous and may lead you to being ousted from the paradigm being perhaps exiled from the scientific community struggling to find a job laughed at ridiculed and so on Coon calls this normal science it is different to Pappas view now the work of scientist is not wholly objective because existing theories are not constantly open to challenge instead scientists are simply seeking to prop up the paradigm to maintain it to keep the status quo from time to time however something occurs within normal science that the paradigm cannot explain it may be the case that this anomalies of this unexpected finding challenges the whole paradigm so an individual hasn't done it themselves purposefully or even the group of individuals may not have purposely done this but some data starts to come up and the paradigm doesn't have the answer and so this could lead to what is known as a scientific revolution and what comes about as a result is the destruction of the old paradigm and the creation and establishment of a new paradigm the scientific community however is likely to resist any change that challenges their authority so generally scientists are quite small see conservative they want to maintain status quo to maintain the paradigm as it is because it's good for them it keeps them in a job and they know where they fit they know where their places in society and generally they have quite a lot of power if kids account of these large scales paradigm attic shifts are accurate then the objectivity claimed of scientific inquiry is completely undermined for what is objectively true in today's paradigm may become objectively untrue in tomorrow's so actually truth can never be truly absolute or be truly objective it's just true for now in the current paradigm and if we have a paradigm shift where all the stuff that we believed in yesterday may now no longer be true which is very problematic and completely undermine science entirely if we were to seek to apply these ideas to sociology the existence of different perspectives so whether we're talking functions and Marxism feminism and so on as well as introspective debate so even within feminism we have contemporary feminism such as third wave feminism black feminism postmodern feminism and then we have kind of more traditional forms of feminism would that be liberal for most or radical feminism and methodological differences so thinking about here positivist interprets indicate that sociology does not operate within a paradigm there is no single paradigm under which all sociologists operate because we're all so different therefore there is no such thing as normal science for the sociologists some discussion has taken place as to whether sociology is post paradigm attic having moved out of the paradigm established by functionalism before the 1960s or whether it is stuck in a state of being pre paradigm attic so is it the case that there was a paradigm functionalism and now we've left it or is it the case that we've never had a paradigm on one day we'll move into it moreover should we strive to achieve paradigm attic status is that desirable or is there more valuing retaining a variety of perspectives and methods this is a debate for which there is no clear-cut answer that's it thank you very much

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