The paper attempts to tackle the question of the epistemological status of sociology. It discusses the rival and competing approaches which have traditionally dealt with this issue. First, the naturalist conception which considers science as one and unified enterprise that obeys to general positivistic principles. The second represented by hermeneutics which assumes a radical methodological distinction between natural and social sciences based on significant differences between their objects. this was best expressed by Rickert, W.Dilthey and M.Weber. In sociology properly speaking, The debate represented a problematic over which two approaches were radically opposed for a long time. The agency versus structure debate started since Weber and Durkheim late in the nineteenth century is still, to some extent, going on. We consider this problematic in the light of new developments in social theory and research. The constructivist approach developed through the works of many sociologists in response to the stalemate resulting from that dichotomy brought many fresh ideas and imagination to social theory. It also brings together sociologists from different traditions and harizons like Norbert Elias, Pierre Bourdieu and Anthony Giddens, but to name a few. We suggest that constructivism provides a real opportunity to overcome the deadlock in which sociology found itself.To this end, the paper spells out some key ideas of this alternative approach.
|Keywords:||Naturalism, Sociology, Constructivism, Agency, Structure|
Professor, Faculty of Arts & Sciences, Department of Social Sciences, Sociology Program, Qatar University, Qatar
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