Sociology as a science
science of sociology

Scienceis knowledge but every kind of knowledge is not science. Science is a methodfor the discovery of uniformities in this universe through the process ofobservation and re-observation; the results are organized, systematized, andmade part of the body of knowledge. In this way science is a logical systemthat bases knowledge on direct, systematic observation. Following this methodcreates scientific knowledge, which rests on empirical evidence, that is, information that we can verify with our senses.

Goals of Science

Thegoals of science can be:

• To explain why somethinghappens.

• To make generalizations.Discovery of uniformities/principles/laws.

• Look for patterns in thephenomenon under observation, or recurring characteristics.

• To predict. To specifywhat will happen in the future in the light of current knowledge.

Forthe attainment of the stipulated goals the procedure followed is to collectinformation through sensory experiences. Hence we call it observations andthere is repetition of observations.

Researcherwould like to be positive about his findings. Therefore he would like to be definite, factual, andpositively sure. Hence the researcher would develop clear observational criteria i.e. measuring indicators for adequate explanations. This approach iscalled Positivism. Auguste Comte coined the term ‘positivism’, which means knowledge basedon sensory experience.

Characteristics of Scientific Method

  1. Empirical The focus of attention is that phenomenon which is observable by usingfive senses by the human beings. If one person has observed others can alsomake that observation which implies that it is repeatable as well as testable.
  2. Verifiable Observations made by any one researcher could be open to confirmation orrefutation by other observers. Others could also use their sensory experiencesfor the verification of the previous findings. The replicability of thephenomenon is essential for repeating the observation. In this way theintuitions and revelations are out of this process because these are havingbeen the privileges of special individuals.
  3. Cumulative The knowledge created by this method keeps on growing. The researcherstry to develop linkages between their findings and the findings of previousresearchers. The new findings may support the previous researches, refute them,or may modify but certainly there is an addition to the existing body ofknowledge. The new researchers need not start from scratch, rather they have arich reservoir of knowledge at their disposal and they try to further build onit.
  4. Self-Correcting Possibility of error is always there but the good thing is itsidentification and correction. The research findings are shared with otherprofessionals in seminars, conferences, and by printing these in professionaljournals. The comments are received and errors, if any, are corrected. Even thescientists are not categorical in their statements. They would usually make a statementas is supported by the evidence available at the time. Hence the statement isopen to challenge by the availability of new evidence.
  5. Deterministic Through scientific method the scientists try to explain why thingshappen? There could be number of factors producing a particular effect but theresearchers try to find out the contribution of each factor as well as ofdifferent combinations of the same factors. In this way he tries to identifythe factor or combination of factors that produce the maximum effect. In this

Source: Introduction to Sociology– Virtual University of Pakistan

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