Value-free: The exclusion of any influence from the researcher on the findings of research. This implies that what is left, if values are removed, is fact.
Three distinct forms of question:
Is sociology value free?
Can sociology be value free?
Ought sociology to be value free?
Links to previous/current work:
Positivism; the nature of scientific research
Methods in sociology.
Debates in education; for example, 'equality of opportunity'.
What are you really being asked to do with this topic?
The questions above are easily answered.
Ought? This itself is a question containing a value.
They are not really what needs to be considered. The 'real' problem is the extent to which sociology is/can/ought to be value free.
Three main questions to ask:
How do values get into research?
What are the main sources of our values?
How can values be restrained?
Key concepts to apply:
For how use selection/choice.
For sources use researcher attributes/culture.
For restraint use awareness/criticism.
- Using the 'Imposition Problem'.
- Factors affecting choice: Gender, Ethnicity, Age, for example.
- Controlling values: Bias, Prejudice, points of view.
- Taking Sides: Becker, Feminism, Socialism.
- Impossible but worthwhile?