ChloeSxx
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Hi I was just wondering whether anyone would be able to help me? I am doing the crime and deviance exam in June and the 33 markers are bogging me down There are two past theory questions which are confusing me, (Assess the view that interpretivist methods are the most appropriate methods for researching society) and (Sociology cannot and should not be a science?) Would I answer them in the same way or if not would anybody be able to tell me how to answer them or give me some pointers? Thanks
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mbeale
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Hi J I would personallysay that they shouldn’t be answered in the same way, as they address twodifferent topics, but that you will find aspects cross over into both. I wouldsay the easiest way to revise is to grab whatever text book you use and makeeither a mind map or super short summary of notes for each topic, including keysociologists, key theories, that kind of thing. If there are loads, then chosea selection that are both applicable to a number of scenarios (no pointremembering a bunch of statistics that are only useful in one situation,because the likelihood of that coming up is pretty slim!) and that you willremember. No use in trying to memorise every sociologist and then getting amental block in the exam because your brain is overloaded! And don’t feel badabout cutting out 80%, just chose what is relevant and what you know you canwrite about both analytically and critically.
So, a break down on how to answer the two questions:
Assess the view thatinterpretivist methods are the most appropriate methods for researching society
I’d start off introducing interpretivism and the overallperspective that it has in regards to sociology. Then I would go on to talkabout the methods that it favours (qualitative ones, so observations,unstructured questionnaires, etc.) and why it favours them (gain insight intothe individual, gain a valid picture, etc.) Then go on to why they are mostappropriate methods for researching society specifically, similarly to a 15mark methods question on all qualitative methods. Try to keep coming back tothis point, and also (a little but hypocritically) try to criticise as well,e.g. qualitative methods in general are difficult to perform large scalestudies of because a large number of people, all with the same training, mustperform the research which can be difficult to fund/ take a long/ etc. Thiswill get you marks for evaluation.
Then I would go on to talk about the positivist approach. Again,introduce the perspective (include Durkheim and how in his plight to makesociology a science, employed scientific and therefore quantitative methodsthat produced empirical data in order to make it more scientific and acceptedinto the science community). This is essentially why they favour quantitativemethods, so now relate this to researching society, with the benefits anddrawbacks that the methods might ensue.
In the conclusion, weigh up each perspective briefly, andremember to answer the question.
Sociology cannot andshould not be a science?
Strangely I really like this question, and I was actually reallyhappy when I got it in my mock, because there are basically 5 perspectives toaddress, and they can all be used for criticism of each other which makesanalysis and evaluation pretty easy once you’ve got the hang of it!
So, in a break down, you’ll have the 5 perspectives. Essentiallythey follow as:
Interpretivism: sociology is not a science (because it is thestudy of conscious beings – humans – whereas science is the study ofunconscious objects – rocks and chemicals; these unconscious objects react inpredictable ways that scientists can expect, humans can react in numerous waysin the same situation therefore have to be studied as individuals, sorepresentations and generalisations cannot be made)
Positivism: sociology is a science (Durkheim believed that for sociologyto be accepted as a subject, it would have to be accepted by scientists and toensure this would happen, he used “scientific” methods i.e. quantitative,empirical, data-driven, statistics, etc.)
Popper: sociology could be a science, sometimes science isn’t sciencebecause it’s not scientific (his main idea is falsification – the idea that somethingcan only be described as true is if every which way to falsify it (prove itwrong) is completed i.e. all swans were thought to be white, until black swanswere discovered so the claim was falsified; if a discovery is made it science,it is not often falsified straight away in order to prove it true, e.g. everyonethought the world was flat for centuries, until this was falsified – in thissense, science isn’t scientific; sociology could be scientific, however Popperis critical of Marx’s ideas, since one of his main theories revolves around therevolution in which the proletariat rise up and overthrow capitalism – Popperis critical of this, and says in this respect sociology is not scientific,because this theory cannot be falsified – it could happen in the future at anytime, so cannot be disproved
Kuhn: sociology could (but probably not ever) be a science (his ideais paradigms – the idea that science has a paradigm of widely acceptedknowledge that all scientists learn from and then begin research from thispoint. No two paradigms can compete at the same time, so one will eventuallydominate. In the case that a new paradigm emerges, an “overhaul” in a sensewill occur, where the paradigm shifts, e.g. the discovery that the world wasround, not flat, was “paradigm altering” because it affected the way thatscientists conducted research after this point. Sociology, Kuhn believes, isnot scientific because there is no one complete paradigm – there are Marxists,Functionalists, New Realists, etc. that all believe different things. Evenwithin theories there are huge disparities, e.g. Liberal Feminists, MarxistFeminists, Radical Feminists, etc. Therefore he believes sociology cannot be ascience until it develops one single paradigm
Keat and Urry (Realism): sociology is a science (essentially,they note there are a huge number of similarities between the two, so sociologymust be a science, almost by default (but don’t write that, it’s just how Iexplain it!) So there are two types of ways in which researchers can conductstudies: closed systems (researcher controls variables and can make precise predictions)and open systems (researcher cannot control variables and cannot make precisepredictions). So closed system: in a lab, mixing chemicals, that kind of thing.Open system: e.g. meteorologist cannot predict the weather to 100% accuracybecause the process is too complex to measure. So Realists argue sociologistsbasically study open systems. Then Keat and Urry basically say that scientistsresearch things that are unobservable e.g. black holes, like sociologists studysociety (which you can’t see). Then finally is the Realist idea that bothscience and sociology try to explain causes of events in terms of underlyingstructures and processes.
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mbeale
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I'm sorry the words are a big squished together! I copy and pasted from word and it doesn't seem to like it :') anyway, I hope this helps! If you want any help on any other essays or revision tips or anything then just drop me a message good luck with your essays!
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ChloeSxx
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Thankyou so much for that! Don't worry about the text I can read it all!😁
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