Assess the View That Sociology Can Be Considered a Science.

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Assess the view that sociology can be considered a science. (33 marks) The idea that sociology is a science is mainly associated with the founding fathers of sociology – Comte, Durkheim and Marx. They believed that sociology was the science of society. Supporters of this idea are known as positivists. However, not all agree that sociology is a science. The scientific philosophers Popper and Kuhn are sceptical of sociology’s scientific status. Moreover, interpretivist sociologists believe that whether sociology is a science or not is an irrelevant debate. They argue that validity is the key to understanding society and social problems and that positivists waste too much time and effort weighing up the scientific merits of sociological research. Positivists believe that sociology should base its logic and methods on the natural sciences such as chemistry, biology and physics. They argue that just as there are natural laws governing the behaviour of chemicals, elements, gravity, animals etc so there are social laws governing the behaviour of people. They suggest that these laws originate in the social structure of societies, i.e. the way they are organised. Generally people are the puppets of society and the social forces that underpin it. Both functionalists and Marxists take a positivist approach to explain social behaviour. Functionalists like Durkheim saw behaviour as the product of value consensus and social integration, e.g. suicide which most people see as the most individualistic human behaviour is seen by Durkheim as the product of levels of social integration and moral regulation in societies. He argues that suicide is caused by factors beyond the control of individuals. Functionalists therefore believe that human behaviour is patterned and predictable because most of us conform to social norms, values and social laws. Marxists too are positivists
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