Critically Evaluate Three Philosophical Approaches to the Understanding of the Social World Commenting on the Implications That Arise for the Conduct of Social Research.

3706 Words Dec 5th, 2005 15 Pages

The whole point of conducting research is to investigate, explore and aid in the development of theory about how the social world works. Social researchers use different tools to investigate their research, these tools are not value free and they imply a certain understanding of the world.

I will be critically evaluating these research tools in this essay because there is a range of considerations to take into account when choosing a research tool.

Epistemology – is the branch of philosophy that deals with the nature of knowledge. It talks about variety of knowledge.

Ontology – is the branch of philosophy that deals with the nature of being. What it means to be and live in the world because there is a difference
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Middle Range Theories are very abstract theories that are very hard to research because their so broad, but they feed into theories of a more limited domain.

An example is the self-fulfilling prophecy, which is telling children from a very young age that they will be and can be successful. If you are told something enough, you become that thing. This theory has been tested empirically in the U.S. It's from the middle range theories that we do most of our research.


When the positivist epistemological position is transferred into the social sciences we call that approach behaviourism.

If you study this way you'll see people as passive and without the ability to reflect on their own life.

Persuasion is a typical behaviourist model. An idea is broadcast through the media so ideas are implanted in us. The theory is a typical mechanistic behaviourist theory that sees people as not having the capacity to think for themselves. This theory is a very out dated one that wouldn't really be thought as much today.

However, using experiments for conducting communications research on human behaviour and social life is still very common today, using the basic principle of cause and effect.

An example of a causality experiment is Paulou's Dog. He did an experiment with a dog that involved conditioning. The dog was conditioned to

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