Comparative Method in Sociological Research Essay

2330 Words Dec 26th, 2008 10 Pages
The Phrase “comparative method” refers to the method of comparing different societies or groups within the same society to show whether and why they are similar or different in certain respects. Both Montesquieu and Auguste Comte, often regarded as the founders of sociology, used or recommended ‘comparison’ to establish and explain both differences and similarities between societies. The comparative method was for long considered the method par excellence of sociology.
According to Andre Beteille, comparative method is used distinctly by two sets of scholars. Firstly, the ‘enthusiasts’ those who make cross board analysis. These include Edward Tylor, Herbert Spencer, Emile Durkheim and Radcliff Brown . Secondly the ‘skeptics’- those who
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However, he spoke of change in terms of mechanical and organic solidarity, but it is not a historic transformation. He also gave the concept of dichotomized opposites, i.e the universe is divided into two extreme categories- sacred and profane, but this has been criticized because there’s no middle ground too.

Radcliff Brown and Bronislaw Malinowski, both inspired by Durkheims work, assert that we must study a society or a culture as a whole if we are to understand its major institutions and explain why its members behave as they do. According to Radcliff Brown, the first tast of the comparative method is to look for “parallels” that is similar social features appearing in different societies in the present or in the past. He asserts that sociological theory must be based on continually tested by systematic comparison: E.g. some tribes in the interior of New South Wales have division of population into two parts which are named after the eaglehawk and the crow (Kilpara and Makwara) There is a rule by which a man should only take a wife from the division other than his own, and the children will belong to the same division as their mothers. The system is described in technical terms as one of totemically represented exogamous matrilineal moieties.
Radcliff Brown used the comparative method through the procedure of replication analysis and diachronic analysis. Replication analysis is the re-study of society. It reveals certain new features whereas

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