Definition of Positivism
(noun) The doctrine that society is ordered and can be empirically understood and measured; that empirical knowledge gained through science is the best method to understand the world and all metaphysical explanations should be dismissed.
Etymology of Positivism
- Coined by Auguste Comte (1798–1857) who also coined the term sociology (originally called social physics).
International Phonetic Alphabet
- American English – /ˈpɑzədəˌvɪz(ə)m/
- British English – /ˈpɒzᵻtᵻvɪz(ə)m/
- Positivism was an attempt by Comte to study society scientifically.
- Positivists use the hypthetico-deductive method and this stands in contrast to constructionism.
- The basic assumption of positivism is that science can provide a framework through empirical observation to understand society. Postmodernism challenges this basic assumption of positivism.
- Positivism is the opposite of antipositivism.
- A type of reductionism.
- Also called logical positivism.
- A (noun) positivist eschews metaphysical explanations to create a (adjective) positivistic or (adjective) positivistical conclusions (adverb) positivistically.
- “Postmodernists are deeply distrustful of science and the principle of objectivity, arguing that scientific knowledge is as much a product of socially determined interests and biases of investigators as it is of facts, which themselves are products of social processes. In addition, postmodernists point out that scientific knowledge has failed to solve social problems or prevent war and genocide” (Hughes and Kroehler 2008:17).
- Word origin of “positivism” – Online Etymology Dictionary: etymonline.com
- Steinmetz, George. 2005. The Politics of Method in the Human Sciences: Positivism and Its Epistemological Others. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.
Hughes, Michael, and Carolyn J. Kroehler. 2008. Sociology: The Core. 8th ed. Boston: McGraw-Hill.
Agger, Ben. 2004. The Virtual Self: A Contemporary Sociology. Malden, MA: Blackwell.
The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language. 5th ed. 2011. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
Andersen, Margaret L., and Howard Francis Taylor. 2011. Sociology: The Essentials. 6th ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.
Bilton, Tony, Kevin Bonnett, Pip Jones, David Skinner, Michelle Stanworth, and Andrew Webster. 1996. Introductory Sociology. 3rd ed. London: Macmillan.
Bruce, Steve, and Steven Yearley. 2006. The SAGE Dictionary of Sociology. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.
Carrabine, Eamonn, Pam Cox, Maggy Lee, Ken Plummer, and Nigel South. 2009. Criminology: A Sociological Introduction. 2nd ed. London: Routledge.
Collins English Dictionary: Complete and Unabridged. 6th ed. 2003. Glasgow, Scotland: Collins.
Delaney, Tim, and Tim Madigan. 2015. The Sociology of Sports: An Introduction. 2nd ed. Jefferson, NC: McFarland.
Ferrante, Joan. 2011a. Seeing Sociology: An Introduction. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.
Ferrante, Joan. 2011b. Sociology: A Global Perspective. 7th ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.
Ferris, Kerry, and Jill Stein. 2010. The Real World: An Introduction to Sociology. 2nd ed. New York: Norton.
Griffiths, Heather, Nathan Keirns, Eric Strayer, Susan Cody-Rydzewski, Gail Scaramuzzo, Tommy Sadler, Sally Vyain, Jeff Bry, Faye Jones. 2016. Introduction to Sociology 2e. Houston, TX: OpenStax.
Henslin, James M. 2012. Sociology: A Down-to-Earth Approach. 10th ed. Boston: Allyn & Bacon.
Jary, David, and Julia Jary. 2000. Collins Dictionary of Sociology. 3rd ed. Glasgow, Scotland: HarperCollins.
Kendall, Diana. 2011. Sociology in Our Times. 8th ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.
Macionis, John. 2012. Sociology. 14th ed. Boston: Pearson.
Macionis, John, and Kenneth Plummer. 2012. Sociology: A Global Introduction. 4th ed. Harlow, England: Pearson Education.
Macmillan. (N.d.) Macmillan Dictionary. (https://www.macmillandictionary.com/).
Marsh, Ian, and Mike Keating, eds. 2006. Sociology: Making Sense of Society. 3rd ed. Harlow, England: Pearson Education.
Merriam-Webster. (N.d.) Merriam-Webster Dictionary. (http://www.merriam-webster.com/).
O’Leary, Zina. 2007. The Social Science Jargon Buster: The Key Terms You Need to Know. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.
Oxford University Press. (N.d.) Oxford Dictionaries. (https://www.oxforddictionaries.com/).
Ravelli, Bruce, and Michelle Webber. 2016. Exploring Sociology: A Canadian Perspective. 3rd ed. Toronto: Pearson.
Scott, John, and Gordon Marshall. 2005. A Dictionary of Sociology. New York: Oxford University Press.
Shepard, Jon M. 2010. Sociology. 11th ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.
Shepard, Jon M., and Robert W. Greene. 2003. Sociology and You. New York: Glencoe.
Stewart, Paul, and Johan Zaaiman, eds. 2015. Sociology: A Concise South African Introduction. Cape Town: Juta.
Stolley, Kathy S. 2005. The Basics of Sociology. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.
Thompson, William E., and Joseph V. Hickey. 2012. Society in Focus: An Introduction to Sociology. 7th ed. Boston: Allyn & Bacon.
Thorpe, Christopher, Chris Yuill, Mitchell Hobbs, Sarah Tomley, and Marcus Weeks. 2015. The Sociology Book: Big Ideas Simply Explained. London: Dorling Kindersley.
Turner, Bryan S., ed. 2006. The Cambridge Dictionary of Sociology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Wikipedia contributors. (N.d.) Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation. (https://en.wikipedia.org/).
Wikipedia contributors. (N.d.) Wiktionary, The Free Dictionary. Wikimedia Foundation. (http://en.wiktionary.org).
ASA – American Sociological Association (5th edition)
Bell, Kenton, ed. 2013. “positivism.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Retrieved December 8, 2019 (https://sociologydictionary.org/positivism/).
APA – American Psychological Association (6th edition)
positivism. (2013). In K. Bell (Ed.), Open education sociology dictionary. Retrieved from https://sociologydictionary.org/positivism/
Chicago/Turabian: Author-Date – Chicago Manual of Style (16th edition)
Bell, Kenton, ed. 2013. “positivism.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Accessed December 8, 2019. https://sociologydictionary.org/positivism/.
MLA – Modern Language Association (7th edition)
“positivism.” Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Ed. Kenton Bell. 2013. Web. 8 Dec. 2019. <https://sociologydictionary.org/positivism/>.