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Dictionary

POSITIVISM

Malcolm Williams

One of two methodological approaches recognized by many textbooks on social research, the other being: interpretivism. Positivism is said to be the methodological underpinning of survey research and experimental approaches, though in describing it thus there is a conflation between scientific approaches to social research in general and the particular position of positivism. There have been several versions of positivism, and though all favour a scientific approach to investigation they are not synonymous with science and indeed in the natural sciences positivism disappeared as an important methodological position many decades ago (Philips, 1987). Nevertheless, it was via the positivist movement that social science became science and was the form in which scientific method entered the study of the social world. There are three main forms of positivism that have been historically important to social science, though arguably none is present to any great extent today. (1) Comtean . The term ...

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