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Social Scientific Inqury

  • Date Submitted: 10/28/2014 09:18 AM
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Characteristics of Social Science


One of the livelier academic debates of recent years has concerned   the   "scientific" status of those disciplines gathered under the rubric of the social sciences-typically including sociology, political science, social   psychology,   economics, anthropology,   and sometimes fields such as   geography,   history, communications,   and other composite and specialty fields,   basically   at issue like whether human behavior can be   subjected   to scientific study.

It   is   a firm assumption of social   scientists   now-a-days   that social behaviour can be subjected to scientific study as   legitimately   as   can   atoms,   cells   and   so   forth.   Like physical scientists,   social   scientists seek to discover   regularity   and order. The social scientist looks for regularity in social behavior.   He does this through careful observation and measurement, discovery of relationship, and framing of models and theories.

The Search for Social Regularities Measuring Social Phenomena

The first building block of science is measurement, or systematic observation. There is no fundamental reason why social scientists cannot measure phenomena relevant to their enquiry. The age and sex of people can be measured. Place of birth and marital status can   be   measured   in   a number of   different   ways,   varying   in accuracy and economy.

Aggregate social   behaviour can be   measured   systematically   as well.   The   political scientist can   determine, the   election-day voting   behavior of the entire electorate or of   individual   precincts.   The amount of traffic over a given section of   highway can   be measured at different points of time.   Consumer's behaviour   could be measured. Preference patterns for a product   can also be measured.

Attitudes may be measured, although this is a point of broad disagreement. For example, anti-Semitic prejudice can be measured by determining individual acceptance or rejection...


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