Workshop and discussion exercises

Practice with these exercises to prepare for your seminars and wider research.

  1. What, in your view, are the major features of a science?
  2. Explain the arguments for:
    (a) treating social sciences as analogous to natural sciences;
    (b) rejecting the notion of the methodological unity of natural and social sciences.
  3. What do you understand by the terms value freedom and objectivity? What arguments are there for and against upholding them as standards by which social research should be judged?
  4. How do participatory and action research projects fit into this?
  5. Are emotions best kept out of social science?
  6. Below is an astrological prediction. Use it to compare your own experience of last week with that of another person. Whose experience fits the prediction best? What conclusion can you reach about whether this prediction is falsifiable?

An astrological prediction
The harder you push on Monday, the harder everyone pushes back against you. Relax – you can handle this one, but it may take longer than you expect to see any tangible results. Take a breather midweek if you're experiencing a creative block; focus on another assignment or get some of the dull work out of the way. Your everyday routine may be thrown into disarray by unanticipated events on Friday or Saturday, but as long as you stay flexible and open to change, it shouldn't be more than a temporary bump. You may be tempted to criticise someone's personal decisions on Sunday; but do you really know where they're coming from? Try to see things from their point of view.

7. Martyn Hammersley discusses the relationship between methods and methodology here: 

Discuss Hammersley’s ideas: how easy is it to practice research that is informed by philosophical considerations?