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A2 Sociological Theory: Postmodernism Feminism & Scientific Sociology
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A2 Sociological Theory: Postmodernism Feminism & Scientific Sociology


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  • 1. Lesson 3: A2 Sociological Theory Covering: Postmodernism, Feminism and Scientific Sociology
  • 2. Postmodernist & Scientific Sociology
    • Postmodernists argue against the notion of a scientific sociology.
    • Why?
      • They think of the natural sciences as simply a meta-narrative.
      • Say science is just one ‘big story’ & its account of the world is no more valid than any other.
      • So, Postmodernist don’t see a reason why we should adopt science as a model for sociology.
      • There are as many ‘truths’ as there are points of view, making a scientific approach dangerous as it claims a ‘ monopoly of truth’ excluding other points of view.
  • 3. Sci-Sology & False Claims
    • So, a scientific sociology not only makes false claims about having the ‘truth’; it also forms a domination.
    • Soviet Union, Marxist Example:
      • Marxism is a theory which claims to have discovered scientifically , the truth about the ideal society.
      • Marxism was used as a tool to justify coercion & oppression.
  • 4. Post-Structuralist Feminists
    • Argue the quest for a single, scientific feminist theory is an attempt at domination as it would covertly exclude many groups of women.
    • Some feminists argue that quantitative scientific methods favoured by positivists are also oppressive & cannot capture the reality of women’s experiences.
  • 5. A ‘Terrible Model’
    • Some writers argue science is terrible model for sociology to follow as:
      • In practice, science has not always led to the progress that positivists believed it would.
      • Ulrick Becks’ ‘Risk Society’ (not Giddens) Example :
        • Risk society… as in hazards and insecurities induced & introduced by modernisation itself.
        • Scientifically created dangers such as nuclear weapons & global warming have undermined the idea that science inevitably brings benefits to humankind.
  • 6. Thus it is argued….
    • That if science bring such negative consequences, it would be wrong for sociology to adopt it as a model.
  • 7. What is Science?
    • We all know by now that Interpretivists reject the positivist view that sociology is a science…
      • But they do tend to agree with positivists that the natural sciences are actually as the positivists describe them.
      • Remember positivists see natural science as inductive reasoning or verificationism applied to the study of observable patterns.
  • 8. Not Always in Agreement?
    • Not everyone accepts positivists’ version of the natural sciences.
    • Scores of sociologists, philosophers & historians have painted their own version of science….
      • There are three which we will examine
      • Will consider implications for whether sociology can or should be a science.