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Sociological Theories - Essay Example

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1. Explain the differences between a positivist, empirical epistemology and a post-modern epistemology and describe the methodological implications of each approach. Does the endeavor of sociology require an adherence to a positive approach to the study of society?…
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Download file to see previous pages A combination of these two approaches is known as the post modern epistemological approach that relies on the use of qualitative investigation as well as quantitative investigation in order to discover more about social phenomenon. Based on the difference in approaches, all these methods of investigation have direct implications on the methodology of investigation itself. When the positivist approach to sociological investigation is considered, it refers to obtaining quantitative data in order to establish sociological facts. This approach can be used to investigate sociological phenomenon in small groups as well as large samples of the population. The basic contention lies on gathering the data, analyzing it and then presenting it in a manner that can be interpreted. A hypothesis must be available which would either be proved or disproved based on the presented data. In contrast to other modes of sociological investigation, the positivist approach places an overwhelming stress on using quantitative information in order to garner investigation and research. In contrast to the positivist approach there is the empirical epistemological approach to sociological investigation. Epistemology refers to gathering knowledge as well as ascertaining its validity. The empirical approach to epistemology is based on investigation as well but such investigation does not require quantitative data to support it. Instead empirical epistemological approaches require that the investigator rely on his experiences and observations in order to support his ideas. Consequently the empirical epistemological approach relies in large part on qualitative observations rather than quantitative data in order to investigate social phenomenon. The earliest method of investigating social phenomenon has been empirical investigation but its validity remained poor because the researcher’s own biases play a large part in determining the results of the investigation. Thus, the empirical epistemological approach to sociology is little in use today. A combination of the empirical epistemological and the positivist approach is the post modern epistemological approach. The basic contention is that the mere positivist method of looking at things is not sufficient and that many possible ways of looking at the world exist. This approach relies on qualitative investigation and observations as well as gathering, analyzing and interpreting quantitative data to find out more about sociological phenomenon. The post modern epistemological approach emphasizes the use of investigation on local phenomenon rather than broad generalizations as the rapid transformation of social structures makes meaning unstable. Of the methods outlined above, the positivist approach is in dominant use. The reason for its pervasive use is its grounding in methods and principles that can be reaffirmed and provide repeatability through similar methods of investigation. Moreover the bias of the researcher is also eliminated in determining sociological phenomenon as actual ground data is used without any qualitative taints. Sociological investigation must be grounded in quantitative data for it to be more reliable and more reflective of the actual situation so that fitting solutions can be arrived at. 2. It is commonly argued that a problem is sociology is that the discipline lacks a common paradigm that natural sciences have. Do you agree that the discipli ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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