Assess the view that interpretivist methods are the most appropriate methods for researching society.
In this essay I am going to assess the view that Interpretivists methods are the most appropriate method for researching society by using Interpretivists and positivists debate, ideas such as individual behaviour is influenced by interactions in society, their methods which include unstructured questionnaires, unstructured interviews and participant observation that creates qualitative data and their belief in verstehen which is to understand what goes on in the lives of people from their particular perspective so that there is a better understanding of how things work in society in a bigger picture.
Positivists argue that sociology should use the methods of the natural sciences. They also believe that sociologists should use quantitative methods and aim to identify and measure social structures. They use methods such as questionnaires and surveys, structures interviews, structured non participant observations, secondary data such as official statistics. Interpretivists however argue the opposite. They argue that human beings think and reflect, scientific methods are inappropriate for the study of society. Unlike objects in nature, human beings can change their behaviour if they know they are being observed. So Interpretivists argue that if we want to understand social actions we must look at the interactions between individuals. They use methods such as unstructured interviews, participant observations and use secondary data such as documentaries and diaries.
Take the example of crime. A positivist would argue that researchers can simply measure crime using quantitative methods such as official statistics and identify patterns and correlations. An interpretivist would argue that sociologists need to understand what people mean by crime, how they come to categorize certain actions as ‘criminal’ and then investigate the causes of crime, who comes to be...