114. Sociology : Facts, Values and Objectivity

What science is not?


Science is not an art. Science calls for thought, though we can do much thinking that is not scientific thinking. The purpose of science is to produce knowledge -not to produce wisdom. It is important to know that knowledge and ideas are not the same, for not all ideas are knowledge. An idea may prove and become knowledge. It may be disproved. Science cannot control all ideas.

Science differs from ethics, though the knowledge that comes from science should be helpful to us in our conduct. Different value systems and ethics are of course, factors which, together with our knowledge, influence our conduct.


Social research-

Research seeks answer to certain questions which have not been answered so far and which depend upon human efforts.

The credit for raising sociology to the level of a scientific study belongs to social research. The history of social research is much more ancient than the discipline called sociology. This is so because the social research has a very wide use and application and is used in many social sciences other than sociology.

I would like to quote ‘ Francis Bacon’ research is a power of suspending judgment with patience, of meditating with pleasures ,of asserting with caution ,of correcting with readiness and arranging thought with scrupulous plan.


Fact, value and objectivity –



Mostly, a fact is taken as something definite or something which happens or which is correct. According to one view, fact is an observation which is based upon experience. In other words, fact is a correct observation. According to the ‘concise ‘ oxford dictionary’, a fact is happening of an incident ,a correct statement ,a matter of experience , the reality of situation ,the conclusion of some observation or actually present phenomenon . Thus, facts are true and they are the real elements of incidents. According to Durkheim, social facts are actually existent; religion, mores, and beliefs.





A study in which the subject matter is centre of attention and prejudice are given no place, is known as objective study. In an objective study, the subject matter is observed and described as it is, with out exaggeration or diminution. Reasoning and intellect are more important than belief and faith in an objective study.



The term ‘Value’ in sociology does not have an economic connotation. Value is an abstract generalized principle of behavior expressed in concrete form in social norms to which the members of a group feel a strong commitment.


Science refers to disinterestedness; scientific inquiry /investigation presents facts as they are; while a scientist has a moral responsibility of giving findings without any biases and prejudices. The basic thing is that science, specifically sociology, has to be value free and research has to be objective and unbiased.


Give your answer about 200 words.

Q.1) Discuss the problems of social investigation.


Q.2) Define Objectivity.


Q.3) “Observation is the most suitable method in social research”. Examine.


Q.4) Explain characteristics of a good Researcher.


Dr. Chaya M.A. Ph.D is available for consultation through the Institute


8 thoughts on “114. Sociology : Facts, Values and Objectivity

  1. 1.
    * Social investigation deals with social phenomenon which is quite different than the natural phenomena. Hence, there are fundamental difference between investigation in social sciences and that of physical or natural sciences.
    * Dynamic nature of social phenomena :- Man is a social animal and the human societies undergo constant change.
    * Problems of Concept :- In social investigation, one has to face number of problems among which of (a) Abstraction (b) Faulty reasoning plays major role in formulating and defining the concepts and law.
    * Difficulty in the use of Experimental Method :- In case of social investigation, its product being a human being cannot be put to laboratory test.
    * Problems in interpreting Relationship between cause and effect :- In Social Investigation, we generally find interdependent relationship between cause and effect.
    * Problem of maintaining Objectivity :- The problem of impartiality is in part a problem of objectivity. It is generally argued that the social investigation is less objective than natural science because social investigation own interest affected by the findings of its studies, hence lending to prejudice and bias.
    * Difficulty in the verification of the inferences :- In social investigation, the events of social sciences are non repetative and the social scientists are ill-equipped with their tools to verify inferences.
    * Problems of inter-disciplinary research :- Social Investigation being, inter-disciplinary one related with, Economics, Political Science and Sociology, we cannot draw water-tight compartments for each other social sciences.

    Conclusion :- Truly, We need to appreciate Sociologists for their impeccable work with all these odds.

  2. “Objectivity – Results do not depend on subjective prejudices but on objective reality.”

    * Objectivity :-

    (a) In terms of methods of research, a basic definition involves the idea that:
    Sociologists deal with facts rather than simple opinions.
    The data collection process is uncolored by personal feelings (that is, sociologists attempt to collect data reliably and systematically.

    (b) In terms of methodology, a basic definition involves the idea that the concept of objectivity becomes a philosophy (or ideology) that argues we can define a reality exists apart from the consciousness of
    individual social actors.

    * The principle of Objectivity and ethical neutrality were the outcome of positivism of the 18th and 19th centuries which influenced sociological thinking during its formative stage.

    * Much of what is taught in course on sociological method are procedures designed to protect investigations from bias in the collection or interpretation of evidence; random sampling, the use of controls, piloting of questionnaires with alternative wordings, an so on are designed to eliminate biases ans ensure objectivity.

    * Objectivity as an attitude on the part of the investigator may be rejected as in appropriate in signalling a morally or politically reprehensible detachment in relation to other human beings, or as unattainable, given the sociologists own attainable social or political engagement.

    However, the concept of objectivity has increasingly been held within the field as problematic. Today man sociologists believe that the discipline is not and cannot hope to be objective.

    1. Sasik,Sequence of points are not correct,start with introduction then explanation and write in connectivity. Matter of answer is ok.

  3. 3.
    “Observation = The opportunity for understanding + The quality and depth of information it provides + Balance of adequate subjectivity with adequate objectivity”

    * Observation :- Is a method to systematically record and interpret behavior. These observations are based on systematical approaches. It provides information that is not reported by the participants themselves, but that is collected directly.

    * Carrying out an observation is advantageous when those studied are not aware of the information to be collected, or if there is an anticipation that incorrect information could be given (consciously or unconsciously).

    * Observation have the advantage, that a higher degree of quantification, controllability and comparableness can be achievable. On the other hand observations in different form (Non-Structured) do not serve to check existing assumptions / hypotheses, but to generate new questions / ideas.

    * Other form (Covert) of Observation helps us to study persons behavior as natural as possible.

    * Conclusion :- Observation provides the attempt to obtain an in-depth understanding of the meanings and definitions of the situation presented by informants, rather than the quantitative measurement of their characteristics or behavior. It also provides balance of adequate subjectivity with adequate objectivity.

    1. sasik,you have explained well ‘what is observation’ but you should explain about the suitability of the method in social research.

  4. 4.

    Following are few characteristics that are notable in my view:

    “Good Researcher Characteristics = Ethical + Unbiased + Curiosity + Healthy Criticism + Honesty + Enjoying organizing and integrating information”

    * Researcher should be convicted conduct research in ethical and Unbiased manner.

    * Researcher should have curiosity and willingness to question assumptions of how society works.

    * Researcher should always doubt the authenticity or validity of their findings even if the data are gathered honestly.

    * Researcher should be honest to collect or gather data or facts in order to arrive at honest results. “Honesty is the best policy of the researcher”. The success or failure of his research lies on his / her hand.

    * Researcher should enjoy organizing and integrating information to find solutions to problems, and consulting with people.

  5. sasik,your answer is to the point ,i would like to change the sequence of the characteristics of good researcher ,curiosity,honesty,unbiased,…….

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