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Sociology Testpaper

Higher in the band, the answer may also begin to explore the anti-positivist arguments, albeit still in a largely descriptive manner. (13–18) A sound account of the positivist perspective, together with some reference to the antipositivist position, would merit the lower part of the band. To go higher, the treatment of the anti-positivist perspective would need to be more developed. The assessment at this level is likely to rely on the juxtaposition of the two main perspectives. Explicit evaluation of the view expressed in the question is likely to be confined to a few simple observations only.

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Reward candidates who note the possible contradictions between the high ideals of scientific methods and the way that scientists actually carry out their work. However, this type of material should not dominate the answer. (19–25) Answers will be based on a detailed and accurate account of the positivist perspective, with a well-informed and sustained assessment that focuses directly on the issue of whether or not the methods favoured by positivists provide a satisfactory way of understanding the factors that shape human behaviour.

At the top of the band, a limited attempt will be made to explain why it might be difficult for sociologists to achieve value freedom in their research. (13–18) The proposition in the question will be explained and this may be supported by references to perspectives and/or thinkers who have supported the idea of a value-free sociology. To reach the top half of the band, there must also be an attempt to assess whether an objective, value-neutral sociology is possible. This may be in terms of a defence or critique of one or more of the main perspectives, e. g. positivist, interpretivist, feminist, postmodernist.

However, for this band the assessment need be no more than quite basic. (19–25) As for the previous band, except that the assessment will be more developed and better informed. A good assessment of the part that values may play in sociological research is likely to trigger this band. Similarly, an answer that discusses the difficulties in achieving objectivity/value freedom in relation to different research methods could make this level if done very well. Note that references to the problems of achieving value freedom in the natural sciences may be worthy of credit, but should not dominate the answer.

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