You are not currently logged in. Please create an account or log in to view the full course.

Objectivity in Social Research

6. The Rejection of Objectivity

This is the course trailer. Please create an account or log in to view this lecture.

  • Description
  • Cite

About this Lecture


In this module, we think about arguments which reject the idea of objectivity itself, focusing particularly on: (i) the rejection of objectivism; (ii) the relativist position that we can only know our own subjective perspectives on the world, and that objectivity is impossible; (iii) the argument that researchers should therefore admit that their research is merely an expression of their subjective perspectives; (iv) the rejection of the use of scientific language in social research.


In this course, Professor Martyn Hammersley (The Open University) explores the concept of objectivity within sociology and social research. In the first module, we think about the development of the concept from the early twentieth century and some key questions associated with it. In the second, we examine Max Weber’s notion of value freedom, before looking in the third at the objectivist version of objectivity as the adoption of standardised, replicable research methods. In the fourth and fifth modules, we consider Alvin Gouldner’s critique of value freedom and his idea of objective partisanship, and standpoint epistemology through Sandra Harding’s work on strong objectivity. In the final two modules, we explore arguments that reject objectivity in its entirety, before concluding 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

APA style

Hammersley, M. (2021, August 24). Objectivity in Social Research - The Rejection of Objectivity [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Hammersley, M. "Objectivity in Social Research – The Rejection of Objectivity." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 24 Aug 2021,

Image Credits

Get instant access to over 5,800 lectures