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IGNOU BSOC 112 Solved Assignment 2022-23

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IGNOU BSOC 112 Solved Assignment 2022-23

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Submission Date :

  • 31st March 2033 (if enrolled in the July 2033 Session)
  • 30th Sept, 2033 (if enrolled in the January 2033 session).

Answer the following Descriptive Category Questions in about 500 words each. Each question carries 20 marks in Assignment I.

Answer the following Middle Category Questions in about 250 words each. Each question carries 10 marks in Assignment II.

Answer the following Short Category Questions in about 100 words each. Each question carries 6 marks in Assignment III.

Assignment I


1. What is objectivity? Discuss Weber’s view on objectivity in social science research.

Reflexivity generally refers to the examination of one’s own beliefs, judgments and practices during the research process and how these may have influenced the research. If positionality refers to what we know and believe then reflexivity is about what we do with this knowledge. Reflexivity involves questioning one’s own taken for granted assumptions. Essentially, it involves drawing attention to the researcher as opposed to ‘brushing her or him under the carpet’ and pretending that she or he did not have an impact or influence. It requires openness and an acceptance that the researcher is part of the research (Finlay 1998).

Reflexivity is not the same as being ‘reflective’: all researchers think about and make judgements about their data (for example, ‘do the data suggest a certain conclusion can be drawn?’); reflexivity steps further back and examines the person making the judgements (‘am I the kind of person who will be predisposed to believe that the data suggest this conclusion?’). Reflexivity and positionality are considered differently across research traditions. Positivism, in seeking to mimic the methods of natural science, adopts a third person narrative and creates the myth of value free research. This is not, of course, the same as saying the positivist researchers fail to reflect on data or that they are unreflexive; they may have thought long and hard about their position but have accepted the convention not to talk about it. Within a more interpretive approach discussion of reflexivity may be encouraged, particularly in longer more personal documents such as theses, though there is no agreement on the form that this discussion should take.

Reflexivity opens up dilemmas and challenges. These are more often addressed explicitly in situations in which there is a considerable distance in terms of background knowledge, behaviour and underlying beliefs between researcher and researched but should be a general consideration for all research. Increasingly, personal positions are seen in a wider context, that of social identity, so that, say, establishing rapport in an interview with a person of a different gender, ethnicity, age or sexuality goes deeper than presenting oneself as open minded and non-judgemental; there is something deeper at stake which, no matter what you do, will come to define your interaction. A reflexive examination should go beyond one’s conduct in a research project and consider the positionality of the wider research discipline. This could cover what is taken for granted in how problems are defined, which research questions tend to be included or excluded, whether there a restrictive dominant paradigm or even a liberal orthodoxy or cultural relativism in which ‘anything goes’. As with positionality, discussion of reflexivity has been criticised as narcissistic and selfindulgent and it is important to remember that the reader may be a lot less interested in the researcher than the researcher is. Discussion of reflexivity can, further, lead to a kind of paralysis (Johnson and Duberley 2003) as each judgement becomes nested within layer upon layer of personal and disciplinary frames of reference. A way of addressing these difficulties is to bring discussion of reflexivity back down to the particular issues within the research and the researcher might want to exemplify patterns of interpretation rather than describe each and every reflexive judgement. Reflexivity should be embraced as a virtue, not a vice. Winter (1989) compares research to the detective story in which by solving the crime the detective comes to understand something about him or herself. This metaphor is made in the context of action research, but is surely a broader comment on the humanist nature of reflexive judgement.


2. What is reflexivity? Explain the importance of reflexivity in social science research.

There is a long tradition in the philosophy of social science maintaining that there is a gulf in terms of both goals as well as methods between the natural and the social sciences. This tradition, associated with thinkers such as the neo-Kantians Heinrich Rickert and Wilhelm Windelband, the hermeneuticist Wilhelm Dilthey, the sociologist-economist Max Weber, and the twentieth-century hermeneuticists Hans-Georg Gadamer and Michael Oakeshott, holds that unlike the natural sciences whose aim it is to establish natural laws and which proceed by experimentation and causal analysis, the social sciences seek understanding (“Verstehen”) of social phenomena, the interpretive examination of the meanings individuals attribute to their actions (Rickert 1929/1986; Windelband 1915; Dilthey 2002; Weber 1904b [1949]; Gadamer 1989; Oakeshott 1933). See also the entries onhermeneutics and Max Weber.

Understood this way, social science lacks objectivity in more than one sense. One of the more important debates concerning objectivity in the social sciences concerns the role value judgments play and, importantly, whether value-laden research entails claims about the desirability of actions. Max Weber held that the social sciences are necessarily value laden. However, they can achieve some degree of objectivity by keeping out the social researcher’s views about whether agents’ goals are commendable. In a similar vein, contemporary economics can be said to be value laden because it predicts and explains social phenomena on the basis of agents’ preferences. Nevertheless, economists are adamant that economists are not in the business of telling people what they ought to value. Modern economics is thus said to be objective in the Weberian sense of “absence of researchers’ values”.

In his widely cited essay “‘Objectivity’ in Social Science and Social Policy” (Weber 1904a [1949]), Weber argued that the idea of an aperspectival social science was meaningless:

There is no absolutely objective scientific analysis of […] “social phenomena” independent of special and “one-sided” viewpoints according to which expressly or tacitly, consciously or unconsciously they are selected, analyzed and organized for expository purposes. (p. 72)

All knowledge of cultural reality, as may be seen, is always knowledge from particular points of view. (p. 81)

The reason for this is twofold. First, social reality is too complex to admit of full description and explanation. So we have to select. But, perhaps in contraposition to the natural sciences, we cannot just select those aspects of the phenomena that fall under universal natural laws and treat everything else as “unintegrated residues” (p. 73). This is because, second, in the social sciences we want to understand social phenomena in their individuality, that is, in their unique configurations that have significance for us.

Values solve a selection problem. They tell us what research questions we ought to address because they inform us about the cultural importance of social phenomena:

Only a small portion of existing concrete reality is colored by our value-conditioned interest and it alone is significant to us. It is significant because it reveals relationships which are important to use due to their connection with our values. (p. 76)

It is important to note that Weber did not think that social and natural science were different in kind, as Dilthey and others did. Social science too examines the causes of phenomena of interest, and natural science too often seeks to explain natural phenomena in their individual constellations. The role of causal laws is different in the two fields, however. Whereas establishing a causal law is often an end in itself in the natural sciences, in the social sciences laws play an attenuated and accompanying role as mere means to explain cultural phenomena in their uniqueness.

Nevertheless, for Weber social science remained objective in at least two ways. First, once research questions of interest have been settled, answers about the causes of culturally significant phenomena do not depend on the idiosyncrasies of an individual researcher:

But it obviously does not follow from this that research in the cultural sciences can only have results which are “subjective” in the sense that they are valid for one person and not for others. […] For scientific truth is precisely what is valid for all who seek the truth. (Weber 1904a [1949]: 84, emphasis original)

The claims of social science can therefore be objective in our third sense. Moreover, by determining that a given phenomenon is “culturally significant” a researcher reflects on whether or not a practice is “meaningful” or “important”, and not whether or not it is commendable: “Prostitution is a cultural phenomenon just as much as religion or money” (p. 81). An important implication of this view came to the fore in the so-called “Werturteilsstreit” (quarrel concerning value judgments) of the early 1900’s. In this debate, Weber maintained against the “socialists of the lectern” around Gustav Schmoller the position that social scientists qua scientists should not be directly involved in policy debates because it was not the aim of science to examine the appropriateness of ends. Given a policy goal, a social scientist could make recommendations about effective strategies to reach the goal; but social science was to be value-free in the sense of not taking a stance on the desirability of the goals themselves. This leads us to our conception of objectivity as freedom from values.


Assignment II


3. Explain the ethnological method of research.
4. Discuss Durkheim’s contribution to the use of the historical method.
5. What were the criticisms against the earlyattemptsto do research on women?


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Assignment III


6. What are the main arguments of standpoint theorists?
7. What is ethnomethodology?
8. What is a descriptive research design?
9. What are the objectives of quantitative research?
10. In what way do ICTs influence social science research?


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IGNOU BSOC 112 Solved Assignment 2022-23 Download Free  Before attempting the assignment, please read the following instructions carefully.

  1. Read the detailed instructions about the assignment given in the Handbook and Programme Guide.
  2. Write your enrolment number, name, full address and date on the top right corner of the first page of your response sheet(s).
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