(from Goode, 1994-2008
chapter 3. See
A Methodological approach
to understanding phenomenon based on:
- Scientific Method
- Objectivity (vs. ideology/politics)
- See also, wikipedia on positivism
- Deviance is real
- Deviants possess certain
- Understanding these traits
gives us an understanding of the "causes" of deviance
- Are characterized by Essentialism
- Seek understanding of Cause
and Effect (forces, determinism)
- Have "objective"
explanation as their goal
Theory of Action-Reaction
- Action is rational and non-problematic
- Deviants deviate and are
labeled as such. Enforcement is directed at maintaining Order.
- Norms: protect the group,
They are enacted for the common good.
- Deviance/deviants harm society.
- Social control is rational,
and directed towards restoring societal integration
- Central question
for positivist approaches: Why do they do it? Discover
cause; control individual (group); restore order.
- Positivist approaches tend
to ignore the subjective experience of the deviant and the meaning the behavior
has for the actor.
- They blindly accepts the
"wrongness" of deviance (ideology supports the status quo)
- Issue of relativity and constructionism
and definition of the situation is glossed over
- Problem of determinism--final/absolute
- The question of objectivity
is not addressed, but assumed
1. Positivism Ignores
Subjective Experience, or the meaning to the participants
- By only studying the objective
features of an act; meaning is ignored. For the Constructionist, meaning
is the heart of the social process.
- Two actions that are superficially
and mechanically similar may mean very different things to the participants
as opposed to the individuals who react to the participants and what they
are doing. i.e. homosexuality. So, what something is, is entirely dependent
on how it is interpreted by the relevant audience, including the actor.
- "Meaning is not inherent in
the act; it must be constructed". Thus, an act "is" nothing until it is
categorized, conceptualized and interpreted.
- It is this subjective process
that locates the act as a specific instance of a general type of behavior.
2. Positivists should be skeptical toward Determinism
- Causality, or to say that one
factor caused or causes another, cannot be determined with any real degree
3. Positivists are overly naive toward objectivity
- True objectivity is impossible.
- Every observer is to a degree
contaminated by personal, political and ideological sympathies. We cannot
avoid taking sides. So, pursuing and reporting the facts is always
enmeshed in ideological and political choices.
Owner: Robert O. Keel email@example.com
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