What is positivism? Describe Giddens’ argument against positivism.

The use of empirical data and scientific procedures is prioritised in positivism, a philosophical and scientific approach to analysing and explaining social processes.

What is positivism

It is predicated on the idea that social phenomena may be researched using techniques like observation, measurement, and experimentation, much like nature phenomena.

Popular sociologist Anthony Giddens has attacked positivism as a limited and insufficient method to comprehending social phenomena. Giddens argues that positivism excessively focuses empirical data and scientific methods while downplaying the influence of social environment and human agency on social activity.

Giddens argues that in addition to external factors like social structures or economic situations, such as individual agency and choices can have an impact on social conduct. 

He argues that because positivism places an undue emphasis on empirical data and disregards the social and historical environment in which action happens, it is unable to adequately capture the complex and dynamic character of human activity.

Additionally, Giddens criticises positivism for boiling down social processes to a collection of quantitative factors that can be counted and scientifically evaluated.

He argues that this method disregards the distinctiveness and complexity of social processes as well as the individualised meanings and feelings that people ascribe to their actions.

Giddens further argues that positivism misses the transformational character of social change as well as the function that social actors play in bringing about change. 

According to him, social change is influenced not just by outside factors but also by the decisions and actions of those who want to see social change.

Giddens underlines the limitations of a solely empirical and scientific approach to comprehending social phenomena in his critique of positivism, which concludes. 

He argues that a broader perspective is necessary, one that takes into account how human agency, the social environment, and subjective experience influence social behaviour.

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