In this post I consider a ‘top band’ answer (both are provided by the AQA here) which achieved 10/10.
NB – If you would like to attempt this question BEFORE looking at the full mark response below, then you can review the topic first by clicking here >>> ‘Is sociology a science?‘.
The Question (no item!)
‘Outline and explain two arguments against the view that sociology is a science’ (10)
The Mark Scheme:
Note: there are no marks for evaluation on the 10 mark no item questions (there are for the ‘analyse with the item’ 10 mark questions!)
Highlighted to show the different stages of development
Interpretivism is the view that sociology is not a science. Interpretivists argue that, because humans think and reflect, scientific methods are inappropriate as they do not allow us to truly understand and dig beneath the surface of behaviours and actions. Unlike objects, which can be analysed using scientific methods, Interpretivists argue that human beings change their behaviour if they know they are being observed, called the Hawthorne Effect, therefore if we want to understand social action, we have to delve into meanings using qualitative, unscientific methods. Interpretivists are subjective, meaning science is not appropriate for sociology in their opinion as it gives objective results and data. Interpretivists argue that the purpose of sociology is to understand human behaviour, no quantify it using scientific methods, therefore it cannot possibly be a science.
Kuhn stated that science is paradigmatic, meaning there is a fixed set of rules and principles which science uses. It is like a set of norms and values and is accepted by all scientists. Therefore, according to Kuhn, sociology is pre-paradigmatic and hasn’t reached the stage where there is a general paradigm shared by most social scientists. This is seen by the fact that sociology has a range of views and theoretical perspectives and there is no agreed set of norms and values. Feminists will always disagree with functionalists. Sociological perspectives may also have internal disagreements such as Merton’s criticism of other functionalists. Those who criticise Kuhn, however, would question whether science itself has a paradigm. Many sciences exist with different sets of paradigms such as psychology
Examiner Commentary: (10/10 marks)
If you’re freaked out by the above response, don’t be: if this wasn’t written by an examiner, it’s written by an outstanding candidate.
Students typically find this topic one of the most difficult, and most answers will come NO WHERE NEAR this standard.
Technically, I don’t think the last sentence should get any marks, because it is not focused on the actual question.
Student responses with examiner
AS AND A-LEVEL
7191 AND 7192
Reproduced here for educational purposes!