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Max Weber on objectivity and value neutrality in sociological research

Max Weber put forward two-tiered approach to value free social science. According to him, end purpose and   its selection in the research may be affected by the values but once it is decided, the process of research itself should not be contaminated by the values of the researcher. In comparing different social systems like religious, political or social systems, it is difficult to choose one over the other without taking a value or end into consideration. Till this level, values are tolerable, as the choice would necessarily be dictated by the analyst’s values. Weber contends that nature cannot just hand us over facts, unfiltered by prior ideas. Our set of concepts clearly shapes    the way we see the world. On the other hand, Weber believed that once a value end, purpose or perspective had been established, then a social scientist could conduct a value free.  Hence according to Weber, it is difficult to discover the complete truth in social research but this should not be an excuse to shun objectivity completely and it should be maintained in the social research process as far as possible. For Weber formulations of Ideal Types exemplifies the extent of use of objectivity in research. Ideal Types are not perfect models but typical heuristic devices. Though the construction of Ideal Types may be affected by personal values of the researcher, but their careful and objective construction also ensures that they are usable for other researches as well.

 

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