Critically Discuss the Contribution of Positivism to the Study of Society

2272 Words Jul 13th, 2010 10 Pages
Critically discuss the contribution of positivism to the study of society

The positivist research method in the social sciences become more influential by August Comte, who tended to build a methodology based on facts rather than speculation. For Comte, the social sciences should concentrate on scientific laws rather than contemplation (Marcuse, 1941, p. 345). This theoretical perspective continues to be the present method of conducting research. This essay argues that positivism has accelerated the development of social science and sociology. The first part of this essay will analyse the historical background of positivism and then examine its contributions to social science research,which include creating methods of social research
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In principle, as long as the predictions and assumptions have been verified as valid, it would be considered to be the truth. If the hypothesis is rejected, researchers often choose to change the previous assumptions, or propose a new one, and the steps remain the same. This process can be self-correcting, and researchers usually narrow the scope of search for the correct hypothesis by examining incorrect one (Borg & Gall, 1996). Generally, the knowledge that generated through a rigorous empirical validation is considered to be an objective and accurate description of entity, and is widely recognized as the truth. Obviously, there are a number of advantages in terms of positivism. First and fore most strength of a positivistic approach is that it helps social sciences gaining the ability to compare the perfection of rigorous experiments, precise assumptions, definite laws and thus prediction of behaviour with natural sciences(Benton & Craib, 2001, pp. 13-27). The implement of positivist research methods make social scientists get a more accurate forecasting result, and therefore more close to a complete description of social phenomena meanwhile away from the prejudice, superstition, and other non-scientific concepts (Marsh & Smith, 2001). In other words, positivism claims that only those things which meet its stringent standards of investigation can be considered as valid, in order to restore the essence

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