All sociologists want to learn about the social world, often times w/ the intention of making positive changes to society.Three ways to do sociological researchScientificInterpretiveCritical Sociology
Scientific Sociology“Positivist” Sociology”ScienceA logical system that bases knowledge on direct, systematic observationScientific SociologyThe study of society based on systematic observation of social behavior
Scientific SociologyEmpirical EvidenceInformation we can verify with our sensesConcepts, variables, correlation, cause and effect, statistics, reliability. *This type of approach takes a great deal of time/ effort/research within the confines of this semester’s length may be only partially possible.
Thoughts on ObjectivityObjectivity (personal neutrality)To allow the facts to speak for themselves and not be influenced by the researcher’s personal values and biases (domestic abuse/white supremacist) Value-relevant researchTopics the researcher cares aboutValue-free research (value neutrality)Dedication to finding truth as it is rather than as we think it should be (drug laws/food sociology)
Interpretive SociologyHumans engage in meaningful actionInterpretive sociologyThe study of sociology that focuses on the meanings people attach to their social world.Max Weber was instrumental in developing interpretive sociologyWe learn more by interacting w/ people, and attempting to understandthis fluid and ever-changing world of perception.
Interpretive SociologyQuantitative data: numerical measurements of sociological behavior/outward behavior. * What kind of things could we measure/study w/ this approach?vs.Qualitative data: researchers accounts of how people understand their surroundings/world/society * What kind of things could we measure/study w/ this approach?
Weber’s Concept of VerstehenGerman word for “understanding”Interpretive sociologist’s jobObserve whatpeople doSharein their world of meaningAppreciate whythey act as they doSubjective thoughts and feelings, though difficult to measure, are the focus of interpretive sociologist’s attention.How can we cultivate as much “verstehen” as possible?
Interpretive SociologyInterpretive sociology differs from scientific or empirical sociology in these ways:Scientific sociology focuses on action (what people do, dirtect ob)Interpretive sociology focuses on meaning (understanding of their actions/surroundings)Scientific sociology sees an objective reality (exists “out there”)Interpretive sociology sees reality as subjective (created by people in their everyday lives, changing)Scientific sociology favors quantitative dataInterpretive sociology favors qualitative dataScientific orientation is well-suited for research in a laboratoryInterpretive orientation is better suited in a natural setting
Critical SociologyThe study of society that focuses on the need for social change….MarxCritical sociologists ask moral and political questions:“How does society work and should it exist in its present form?”