The Rules of Sociological Method ()
The relationship between individual and society is not one-sided as these theories indicated. As says Maclver, “Individuality in the sociological sense is that attribute To quote Ginsberg, “Society is the condition of his having any ends at all. Quotations by Georg Simmel, German Sociologist, Born March 1, The deepest problems of modern life derive from the claim of the individual to preserve The first internal relation that is essential to a secret society is the reciprocal. Durkheim did not deny, of course, that such individual manifestations were in and relation of the parts of a society, the size and geographical distribution of its be taken as a claim that sociology and philosophy are of no reciprocal value.
Durkheim's initial request for such an explanation was accompanied by two rather pragmatic observations: But Durkheim's more fundamental motivation was derived from his recognition that, in certain "transition periods" such as that through which he was manifestly livinga fact of extraordinary generality can persist, through force of blind habit, despite its lack of any correspondence with the new conditions of existence.
Having established by observation that a fact is general, therefore, the sociologist must still reconstruct the conditions which determined this general fact and decide whether they still pertain or, on the contrary, have changed; 11 in the first case the fact is "normal," while in the second, its normality is "merely apparent.
The results of the preceding method can be verified by demonstrating that the general character of the phenomenon is related to the general conditions of collective life in the social type under consideration. Nonetheless Durkheim observed, crime exists in all societies of all kinds, and despite centuries of effort at its annihilation, has rather increased with the growth of civilization; thus, "there is no phenomenon which represents more incontrovertibly all the symptoms of normality, since it appears to be closely bound up with the conditions of all collective life.
In Book One of The Division of Labor, Durkheim had shown that "crime" consists of an action which offends strong, well-defined collective feelings. For such actions to cease therefore, those feelings would have to be reinforced in each and every individual to the degree of strength required to counteract the opposite feelings.
But if this occurred, Durkheim added, those weaker states of the conscience collective, whose milder reactions previously acknowledged mere breaches of convention, would also be reinforced, and what was unconventional would thereby become criminal; and the elevation of all collective sentiments to a strength sufficient to stifle all dissentient voices was simply incompatible with the enormous diversity of those environments which condition the commensurate variability of individual consciences.
Since there cannot be a society in which individuals do not diverge to some extent from the conscience collective, it is equally necessary that some of these deviations assume a criminal character.
Durkheim's more scandalous argument, however, was that crime is also useful, in both a direct and an indirect sense. The argument for indirect utility appeared again in The Division of Labor, where Durkheim had shown that the gradual evolution of law and morality itself reflects more fundamental transformations in a society's collective sentiments.
For such sentiments to change, however, they can be only moderately intense, while the only condition under which crime could cease see above must necessarily be one in which collective sentiments had attained an unprecedented intensity. For moral consciousness to evolve at all, therefore, individual creativity must be permitted.
The criminal thus becomes the price we pay for the idealist. More directly, as in the case of Socrates, the criminal and the idealist are sometimes the same, and the crime proves to be the anticipation of that morality still to come.
Rules for the Constitution of Social Types According to the second rule in the previous section, a social fact can be labeled "normal" or "pathological" only in relation to a given social "type" or "species. In particular, he sought a via media between the historians, for whom each society is unique and incomparable, and the philosophers, for whom different societies are only various expressions of the fundamental attributes of "human nature.
As the means to this end, Durkheim again endorsed the method advocated in Bacon's Novum Organum -- namely, to look for decisive or crucial facts which, regardless of their number, have scientific value or interest. Clearly, those facts which explain other facts; and in this sense, Durkheim admitted, explanation and classification are interdependent, and neither can proceed very far in the absence of the other.
But at least we know where to start: Durkheim thus set about classifying social types according to the same principle which had guided that activity in The Division of Labor, and eventually codified it in a rule: We shall begin by classifying societies according to the degree of organization they manifest, taking as a base the perfectly simple society or the single-segment society.
Within these classes different varieties will be distinguished, according to whether a complete coalescence of the initial segments takes place. Indeed, like the vestigial organs of its biological counterpart, a social fact sometimes exists without serving any vital need or desire whatsoever, either because it has never done so, or because its utility has passed while it persists from force of habit. But what was thus denounced as teleological was at least equally disparaged as psychologistic, for Durkheim regarded these as no more than different descriptions of the same methodological blunder.
Indeed, if society is only a system of means set up to achieve certain ends, then these ends must surely be individual, for prior to society only individuals could exist. The origin and development of society would thus be the result of individual minds, and the laws of sociology no more than corollaries of those of psychology. The organization of the family would thus be the consequence of the conjugal and parental emotions; economic institutions, that of the desire for wealth; morality, that of self-interest informed by the principle of utility; and religion, that of those emotions provoked by fear of nature or awe at the charismatic personality, or even the religious "instinct" itself.
At the risk of repetition, Durkheim regarded such "explanations" as inadequate to that which was to be explained -- namely, a group of facts external to the individual which exercises a coercive power over him: The first was that, since the sole elements of which society is composed are individuals, then the explanation of social phenomena must lie in psychological facts.
To this objection Durkheim's habitual response was to revert to the biological analogue -- i. The whole, in other words, is something greater than the sum of its parts. Similarly, the association of individual human beings creates a social reality of a new kind, and it is in the facts of that association rather than the nature of associated elements that the explanation for this new reality is to be found.
Between sociology and psychology, therefore, there exists the same break in continuity as is found between biology and the physical or chemical sciences: But however far back in history we go, Durkheim answered, the fact of association appears to be the most obligatory of all, for it is the origin of all other obligations.
We are born into a family, granted a nationality, and given an education, without our choosing any of them; and it is these associations which in turn determine those more "voluntary" obligations in which we subsequently acquiesce. All societies are born of other societies, Durkheim concluded, and "in the whole course of social evolution there has not been a single time when individuals have really had to consult together to decide whether they would enter into collective life together, and into one sort of collective life rather than another.
The determining cause of a social fact must he sought among the antecedent social facts and not among the states of the individual consciousness. But the arguments which lead to this rule, Durkheim then added, apply equally to the function of a social fact -- while a social fact may have repercussions which serve the individual, this is not the immediate reason for its existence; on the contrary, its function consists in the production of socially useful effects.
Durkheim thus complemented the rule above with a second: The function of a social fact must always be sought in the relationship that it bears to some social end. If the distinctive condition for the emergence of social as opposed to psychological phenomena consists in the fact of association, Durkheim argued, then social phenomena must vary according to how the constituent elements in a society are associated.
Durkheim called this the inner environment of a society, and thus proposed still another rule: The primary origin of social processes of any importance must be sought in the constitution of the inner social environment. But doesn't this "inner environment" itself depend on other social causes, either inherent within the society itself, or involving interaction with other societies?
Durkheim admitted that there are no "first causes" in science, and that a fact is "primary" only in the sense that it is general enough to explain many others.
But the "inner social environment," he insisted, is precisely such a fact. The more specialized environments of particular groups within a society also affect its functions; but these groups are themselves subject to the influence of the general internal association, and are commensurately less important. A similarly reduced significance was granted to the external environment of neighboring societies: The second consequence was particularly objectionable, for Durkheim always insisted that the relationship between past and present states of any society was merely chronological, and could be rendered causal only at the exorbitant cost of postulating, as had Comte and Spencer, a metaphysical "inner tendency" in social evolution.
Moreover, the inner social environment alone can account for the undeniable diversity and complexity of "useful" social facts without recourse to rather arbitrary and ad hoc causal hypotheses; and this again indicates the extent to which the constitution of qualitatively distinct social types is connected to their explanation by a variety of concomitant conditions.
The first two thinkers viewed the individual as "real" and society as artificial, the latter being imposed upon the former in order to secure certain collective advantages. Durkheim's own theory, as we have seen, contains elements of both -- he agreed with Hobbes and Rousseau that constraint is an essential feature of social facts, and with Spencer that society is a part of nature.
- Relationship between Individual and Society (1063 Words)
- Introduction to Sociology/Print version
- Georg Simmel Quotes
But precisely because the constraint of society is the consequence of its natural superiority, there is no need to resort to Hobbes's or Rousseau's "social contract" in order to explain the individual's subservience; and inversely, precisely because this natural superiority derives not from Spencer's individual, but from a social reality sui generis, the constraint it exercises is not merely physical, but also moral and intellectual.
It is that superiority of which religion provided the earliest, symbolic representation, and science the later, more exact explanation. According to Durkheim, we can only compare those cases where both are simultaneously present or absentand ask whether the variations they display in these different circumstances suggest that one depends upon the other.
Where the two phenomena are produced artificially by the observer, we call this method experimentation; and where the artificial production of phenomena is impossible, we compare them as they have been produced naturally, a procedure called indirect experimentation, or the comparative method.
Durkheim was convinced that sociology was limited solely to the latter method, and this led him to reject both Comte's "historical" method, which depended on an acceptance of his tendentious "laws" of social progress, and Mill's suggestion that even "indirect" experimentation is inapplicable to the study of social phenomena. As the first rule for the demonstration of sociological proof, therefore, Durkheim proposed: To the same effect there always corresponds the same cause.
Mill's "Method of Agreement," for example, had stated that, if two instances of a phenomenon share only one circumstance, it is either their cause or their effect; his "Method of Difference," by contrast, suggested that, if an instance in which a phenomenon occurs and one in which it does not differ in only one other circumstance, it is the cause, or the effect, or an indispensable part of the cause, of the phenomenon; and his "Joint Method of Agreement and Difference" consisted in combining the first two, putting together knowledge of what is common to all cases of the phenomenon and what alone differs when it is absent.
To all three, Durkheim objected on the ground that they assume the cases compared either agree or differ on only one point, conditions difficult enough to achieve in physics, chemistry, and biology, but literally impossible in the study of phenomena as complex as those of sociology.
Mill's "Method of Residues" suggested that we subtract from a phenomenon what is known already to be the effect of certain causes, the "residue" being the effect of the remaining antecedents; but here again, Durkheim objected to the assumption that a considerable number of causal laws are already known, and that the effects of all causes but one might thus be eliminated in a science so complex as sociology.
Mill's fifth canon, however, was that of "Concomitant Variation" -- that phenomena which vary together are connected through some fact of causation. And this search for a "mere parallelism in values" through which two phenomena pass survived all of Durkheim's objections to the first four.
For the manner in which a phenomenon develops reveals its internal nature, and where two phenomena develop in the same way, there must thus be some internal connection between the natures thus revealed. Durkheim could thus do quite well without those massive collections of facts assembled by historians, ethnographers, and sociologists pursuing the "Method of Agreement and Differences.
First, when dealing with very general facts e. But a second method -- i. The sociologist could now confront the history of one society with another, to see if the same phenomenon evolves over time in response to the same conditions. But this method is applicable only to phenomena which have arisen during the existence of the societies in question, and thus ignores that part of a society's social organization which is inherited ready-made from earlier societies.
This observation led directly to Durkheim's third method: Consequently, one cannot explain a social fact of any complexity save on condition that one follows its entire development throughout all species. In so far as it ceases to be purely descriptive and attempts to explain social facts, therefore, comparative sociology is not a single branch of sociology, but is coextensive with the discipline itself.
Finally, Durkheim warned against an error characteristic of such extended comparisons -- i. But the new society, Durkheim insisted, is not simply a continuation of the old; thus, the "revival" of religious traditionalism frequently observed at the outset of a society's history, for example, is the product of the special conditions of that early stage rather than evidence of the "transitoriness" of the religious decline found in the latter stages of its predecessor.
To serve as proof, therefore, the comparison of social facts must control for the stage of a society's evolution; and for this purpose, Durkheim concluded, it will be sufficient to consider societies which one is comparing at the same period of their development: First, it is independent of all "doctrines," whether philosophical or practical.
Sociology is thus neither positivist, nor evolutionist, nor spiritualist, nor even naturalist in so far as that term is taken in the doctrinal sense, as implying the reduction of social facts to cosmic forces; neither has it to take sides on metaphysics, nor affirm free will rather than determinism or the reverse.
Concentrating the last, its only condition is that social facts are explicable by natural causes, a condition that Durkheim regarded less as a rational necessity than a legitimate inductive inference.
This means that we can no longer dream of explaining them by their "utility" or by conscious "reasoning" on the part of their agents; on the contrary, social facts are externally coercive forces, which can be engendered only by other forces: A social fact cannot be explained except by another social fact, which to Durkheim meant that the "inner social environment" is the primary motive force underlying all social evolution.
Indeed, the sense of this "specific nature of social reality" is so important to the sociologist, Durkheim argued, that a "purely sociological culture," an autonomous scientific discipline, is essential to its cultivation. Critical Remarks As Steven Lukes has observed, 40 The Rules of Sociological Method was simultaneously a treatise on the philosophy of social science, a polemic against the enemies of sociology, and the manifesto of the emergent Durkheim "School"; and it is important to weigh its failures in the light of these multiple, discordant intentions.
Nonetheless, it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that this is Durkheim at his worst, and that he is at his best when, where, to precisely the extent, and even "because" he departed from these programmatic utterances. The concept of the "social fact" itself, for example, must be described as extraordinarily capacious if not downright indiscriminate, incorporating the full range of potentially explanatory social phenomena -- population size and distribution, social norms and rules, collective beliefs and practices, currents of opinion -- from the infrastructural to the superstructural level; and as Durkheim's willingness to focus on the latter rather than the former increased over the course of his career, The Rules --rather awkwardly for so imperious a piece -- appeared to straddle an equivocal, intermediate stage.
The suggestion that social facts are external to any particular individual, for example, raises few objections, though a concern for balanced statement might add as Durkheim increasingly did that they are also internal to particular individuals; but the suggestion that social facts are external to all individuals can be justified only in the limited sense that they have a prior temporal existence, and any extension beyond these limits is subject as Durkheim frequently was to charges of hypostatizing some metaphysical "group mind.
The first of these usages, Lukes has observed, seems more felicitous than the second which is perhaps better described as a "means-end" relationand the last three seem something else altogether -- i. Sociology may not produce many laws, W. Runciman has observed, 46 but it certainly consumes them -- especially those of psychology.
Durkheim's effort to find objective criteria by which "normal" might be distinguished from "pathological" social facts was a rather transparent attempt to grant scientific status to those social and political preferences we have already observed in Book Three of The Division of Labor.
In addition to the logical difficulties of inferring "social health" from the "generality" of a phenomenon, Durkheim himself recognized the practical obstacles to drawing such inferences in "transition periods" like his own; but since economic anarchy, anomie, and rapidly rising suicide rates were all "general" features of "organized" societies, Durkheim's second criterion -- that this generality be related to the general conditions of the social type in question -- could render them "pathological" only by reference to some future, integrated society which Durkheim somehow considered "latent" in the present.
Durkheim, in short, tended to idealize future societies while dismissing present realities, and thus appears to have been oblivious to the sheer historical contingency of all social arrangements.
Even if we accept the argument that the punishment elicited by crime reaffirms that solidarity based on shared beliefs and sentiments, for example, we must still ask a series of more specific questions -- Which beliefs and sentiments? What degree of punishment? For in the absence of specific answers to such questions Durkheim's treatment of these issues is unrelievedly abstractthe claim that crime is functional to social integration could be used to justify any favored set of beliefs and practices, and any type or degree of punishment, simply by arguing that the failure to punish would be followed inevitably by social disintegration.
Durkheim's additional claim -- that crime is functional to social change -- was a simple extension of the view discussed in Chapter 2, that law is the direct reflection of the conscience collective. But, as Tarde was quick to point out, there is no necessary connection between the violation of these laws constituting crimes and the sources of moral and social innovation.
If not, the theory is modified or discarded. The method is commonly taken as the underlying logic of scientific practice. Science is essentially an extremely cautious means of building a supportable, evidenced understanding of our natural and social worlds. The essential elements of a scientific method are iterations and recursions of the following four steps: The systematic, careful collection of measurements, counts or categorical distinctions of relevant quantities or qualities is often the critical difference between pseudo-sciences, such as alchemyand a science, such as chemistry.
Scientific measurements are usually tabulated, graphed, or mapped, and statistical manipulations, such as correlation and regressionperformed on them. The measurements might be made in a controlled setting, such as a laboratory, or made on more or less inaccessible or unmanipulatable objects such as human populations.
The measurements often require specialized scientific instruments such as thermometers, spectroscopes, or voltmeters, and the progress of a scientific field is usually intimately tied to their invention and development.
These categorical distinctions generally require specialized coding or sorting protocols that allow differential qualities to be sorted into distinct categories, which may be compared and contrasted over time, and the progress of scientific fields in this vein are generally tied to the accumulation of systematic categories and observations across multiple natural sites. In both cases, scientific progress relies upon ongoing intermingling between measurement and categorical approaches to data analysis.
Measurements demand the use of operational definitions of relevant quantities a. That is, a scientific quantity is described or defined by how it is measured, as opposed to some more vague, inexact or idealized definition. The operational definition of a thing often relies on comparisons with standards: In short, to operationalize a variable means creating an operational definition for a concept someone intends to measure.
Similarly, categorical distinctions rely upon the use of previously observed categorizations. A scientific category is thus described or defined based upon existing information gained from prior observations and patterns in the natural world as opposed to socially constructed "measurements" and "standards" in order to capture potential missing pieces in the logic and definitions of previous studies.
In both cases, however, how this is done is very important as it should be done with enough precision that independent researchers should be able to use your description of your measurement or construction of categories, and repeat either or both. The scientific definition of a term sometimes differs substantially from its natural language usage. For example, sex and gender are often used interchangeably in common discourse, but have distinct meanings in sociology. Scientific quantities are often characterized by their units of measure which can later be described in terms of conventional physical units when communicating the work while scientific categorizations are generally characterized by their shared qualities which can later be described in terms of conventional linguistic patterns of communication.
Measurements and categorizations in scientific work are also usually accompanied by estimates of their uncertainty or disclaimers concerning the scope of initial observations. The uncertainty is often estimated by making repeated measurements of the desired quantity.
Uncertainties may also be calculated by consideration of the uncertainties of the individual underlying quantities that are used. Counts of things, such as the number of people in a nation at a particular time, may also have an uncertainty due to limitations of the method used. Counts may only represent a sample of desired quantities, with an uncertainty that depends upon the sampling method used and the number of samples taken see the central limit theorem. Hypothesis Development[ edit ] A hypothesis includes a suggested explanation of the subject.
In quantitative work, it will generally provide a causal explanation or propose some association between two variables. If the hypothesis is a causal explanation, it will involve at least one dependent variable and one independent variable. In qualitative work, hypotheses generally involve potential assumptions built into existing causal statements, which may be examined in a natural setting.
Variables are measurable phenomena whose values or qualities can change e. A dependent variable is a variable whose values or qualities are presumed to change as a result of the independent variable. In other words, the value or quality of a dependent variable depends on the value of the independent variable.
Of course, this assumes that there is an actual relationship between the two variables. If there is no relationship, then the value or quality of the dependent variable does not depend on the value of the independent variable.
An independent variable is a variable whose value or quality is manipulated by the experimenter or, in the case of non-experimental analysis, changes in the society and is measured or observed systematically. Perhaps an example will help clarify.
Promotion would be the dependent variable. Change in promotion is hypothesized to be dependent on gender. Scientists use whatever they can — their own creativity, ideas from other fields, induction, deduction, systematic guessing, etc. There are no definitive guidelines for the production of new hypotheses.
The history of science is filled with stories of scientists claiming a flash of inspiration, or a hunch, which then motivated them to look for evidence to support, refute, or refine their idea or develop an entirely new framework.
Prediction[ edit ] A useful quantitative hypothesis will enable predictions, by deductive reasoning, that can be experimentally assessed. If results contradict the predictions, then the hypothesis under examination is incorrect or incomplete and requires either revision or abandonment.
If results confirm the predictions, then the hypothesis might be correct but is still subject to further testing.
Predictions refer to experimental designs with a currently unknown outcome. A prediction of an unknown differs from a consequence which can already be known. Testing[ edit ] Once a prediction is made, a method is designed to test or critique it.
The investigator may seek either confirmation or falsification of the hypothesis, and refinement or understanding of the data.
Though a variety of methods are used by both natural and social scientists, laboratory experiments remain one of the most respected methods by which to test hypotheses. Scientists assume an attitude of openness and accountability on the part of those conducting an experiment. Detailed record keeping is essential, to aid in recording and reporting on the experimental results, and providing evidence of the effectiveness and integrity of the procedure.
They will also assist in reproducing the experimental results. This is a diagram of the famous Milgram Experiment which explored obedience and authority in light of the crimes committed by the Nazis in World War II. The experiment's integrity should be ascertained by the introduction of a control or by observation of existing controls in natural settings.
In experiments where controls are observed rather than introduced, researchers take into account potential variables e. On the other hand, in experiments where a control is introduced, two virtually identical experiments are run, in only one of which the factor being tested is varied.
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This serves to further isolate any causal phenomena. For example in testing a drug it is important to carefully test that the supposed effect of the drug is produced only by the drug. Doctors may do this with a double-blind study: Neither the patients nor the doctor know who is getting the real drug, isolating its effects.
This type of experiment is often referred to as a true experiment because of its design.
Introduction to Sociology/Sociological Theory
It is contrasted with alternative forms below. Once an experiment is complete, a researcher determines whether the results or data gathered are what was predicted or assumed in the literature beforehand. If the experiment appears successful - i. An experiment is not an absolute requirement.
In observation based fields of science actual experiments must be designed differently than for the classical laboratory based sciences. Sociologists are more likely to employ quasi-experimental designs where data are collected from people by surveys or interviews, but statistical means are used to create groups that can be compared.
For instance, in examining the effects of gender on promotions, sociologists may control for the effects of social class as this variable will likely influence the relationship.
Unlike a true experiment where these variables are held constant in a laboratory setting, quantitative sociologists use statistical methods to hold constant social class or, better stated, partial out the variance accounted for by social class so they can see the relationship between gender and promotions without the interference of social class. The four components of research described above are integrated into the following steps of the research process. Identify your topic of interest and develop a research question in the form of a cause-and-effect relationship.
Conduct a review of the literature: Access studies that have already been performed by other researchers and published in peer-reviewed journals. You'll find out what is already known about the topic and where more research is needed. Refine your research question in a way that will add new information to the existing research literature, expressing it in the form of a testable research hypothesis. This includes identifying two or more variables and articulating how one variable is thought to influence the other.
Decide on a way to approach data collection that will provide a meaningful test of the research hypothesis. Some designs include data collection at only one point in time, but more complex questions require data gathering over time and with different groups of people.
Select a research method: Once a design has been established, one or more actual data gathering strategies will need to be identified. Each method comes with its own strengths and weaknesses, so sociologists are increasingly incorporating mixed-methods approaches in their research designs to enrich their knowledge of the topic.
Some of the more popular research methods used by sociologists are: Operationalizing means deciding exactly how each variable of interest will be measured. In survey research, this means deciding on the exact wording of the question or questions used to measure each variable, a listing of all possible responses to closed-ended questions, and a decision as to how to compute variables using multiple indicators.
Identify the population and draw a sample: A population is the group a researcher is interested in learning about. Is it all students at one particular University? All residents of the United States? All nonprofit organizations in a particular city? Because it is frequently too expensive to try to collect data from all units in a population, a sample of those units is often selected.
Samples that use principles of random selection, where every unit in the population has an equal chance of being included in the sample, have the best chance of reflecting the views and behaviors of the entire population of focus.
Data collection must be systematic and rigorous so that procedural mistakes do not create artificial results. Powerful statistical packages today make data analysis easier than it has ever been. Still, great care needs to be taken to accurately code the data i. Research results are shared with the larger community through presentations, reports, and publications in peer-reviewed journals. This allows others to consider the findings, the methods used, and any limitations of the study.
Qualitative sociologists generally employ observational and analytic techniques that allow them to contextualize observed patterns in relation to existing hierarchies or assumptions within natural settings.
Thus, while the true experiment is ideally suited for the performance of quantitative science, especially because it is the best quantitative method for deriving causal relationships, other methods of hypothesis testing are commonly employed in the social sciences, and qualitative methods of critique and analysis are utilized to fact check the assumptions and theories created upon the basis of "controlled" rather than natural circumstances.