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Sociology   >   Objectivity in Social Research

What is Objectivity?

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Objectivity 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 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.

What is Objectivity?

In this lecture, we think about the concept of objectivity as it developed in the social sciences during the twentieth century, focusing in particular on: (i) the idea of objectivity in the early twentieth century as a commitment to documenting the world as it really is, not how people think it should be; (ii) the emergence of criticisms of this notion of objectivity in the 1960s; (iii) some central questions associated with objectivity in sociology; (iv) some key perspectives on what objectivity means and its role in social research.

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Hammersley, M. (2021, August 24). Objectivity in Social Research - What is Objectivity? [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Hammersley, M. "Objectivity in Social Research – What is Objectivity?." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 24 Aug 2021,

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Prof. Martyn Hammersley

Prof. Martyn Hammersley

Open University