s the revival and renewal of positivism in theoretical sociology possible?

Smirnov P.I.

Dr. Sci. (Philos.), Prof., Saint-Petersburg State University, Saint-Petersburg, Russia smirnovpi@mail.ru

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Smirnov P.I. s the revival and renewal of positivism in theoretical sociology possible?. Sotsiologicheskie issledovaniya [Sociological Studies]. 2017. No 3. P. 14-23


This article states that old discussion about crisis in sociology reflects dissatisfaction of sociological community regarding the level of this science development. Author’s opinion is that this level can be evaluated in regard to what degree the task (set by a А. Comte) – convergence of social and natural sciences methodology – is solved. This problem has its acceptable solution in empirical sociology. However, the situation in theoretical sociology is very different. The complex of theories, authors’ ideas and their sociologies etc. has no united basis. It cannot give answers to “big questions” (mankind’s global problems). In order to increase the level of theoretical sociology – we need to go back to positivism and use the modeling method shared by all sciences. For building of simple and clear ideal models (ideal types) of social phenomena – we need to meet the following criteria: form a minimal list of intuitively clear ideas (for example, man, multitude, interaction, co-correlation), use one type of interaction between people (natural, emotional, speech-communicative etc.) for forming abstract unions of people (population, community, society etc.), join method of gradually deepening in the essence of intuitively clear idea and method of gradually deepening in phenomenon (for example, studying atom). Building of ideal models of the most important social phenomena will allow finding possible answers to the main problems of humanity and decrease risks during their solution.

positivism; cognition; modeling; ideal type; type of interaction


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