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2. Max Weber and Value Freedom
About this Lecture
In this lecture, we think about Max Weber’s notion of objectivity, known as the principle of value freedom, focusing in particular on: (i) Weber’s argument that objectivity means producing scientific facts about society only, not moral evaluations; (ii) his ideas about political values and biases as something to be resisted in research; (iii) his argument that sociology has no authority to make evaluations; (iv) Weber’s views on the proper role of sociology in politics as a producer of facts which inform policy and opinion, rather than evaluations.
In this course, Professor Martyn Hammersley (The Open University) explores the concept of objectivity within sociology and social research. In the first lecture, we think about the development of the concept from the early twentieth century and some key questions associated with it. In the second lecture, we examine Max Weber’s notion of value freedom. In the third lecture, we look at the objectivist version of objectivity as the adoption of standardised, replicable research methods. Next, we consider Alvin Gouldner’s critique of value freedom and his idea of objective partisanship. In the fifth lecture, we review standpoint epistemology through Sandra Harding’s work on strong objectivity. In the sixth lecture, we explore arguments that reject objectivity in its entirety. In the seventh and final lecture, we conclude with a summary of key debates.
Professor Martyn Hammersley is Emeritus Professor of Educational and Social Research at the Open University. His work focuses on issues in sociological research methods, particularly relating to objectivity and bias. His recent publications include The Concept of Culture: A History and Reappraisal (2019), The Radicalism of Ethnomethodology: An Assessment of Sources and Principles (2018) and The Limits of Social Science: Causal Explanation and Value Relevance (2014).
Cite this Lecture
Hammersley, M. (2021, August 24). Objectivity in Social Research - Max Weber and Value Freedom [Video]. MASSOLIT. https://www.massolit.io/courses/objectivity-in-social-research/max-weber-and-value-freedom
Hammersley, M. "Objectivity in Social Research – Max Weber and Value Freedom." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 24 Aug 2021, https://www.massolit.io/courses/objectivity-in-social-research/max-weber-and-value-freedom