Summary Response: Sociology
Sociology can be compared to literature in several ways. From one perspective, it studies the society as a living organism that consists of numerous parts and functions according to its inner rules. Fiction also concentrates on the description of reality.
However, there is a slight difference between these two approaches to study the society. Literature does not always use facts and statistics to describe the issue. Sociology, in a contrary, relies on statistics and precise data in the research process. Sociology is a science first of all, that is why it is impossible to suppose that is can be subjective and emotional. Without factual data, objective and clear information it is impossible to make scientific conclusions. Of course, sociology is not an exact science like mathematics or astronomy, but the usage of a scientific method of research distinguished it from fiction, where facts are mixed with imaginary details. All these things support the idea that sociology as a science should be “value-free”. That means it is impossible for the sociologist to criticize the situation he/she describes and analyses or to give pieces of advice to the participants of the social conflict.
Many sociologists prefer to work like activists in the area of their specialization. Scientists consider it to be an indispensable part of research. Practical side of theoretical knowledge is extremely important in understanding minor details of the subject. Though, despite the evident positive side of applying knowledge to reality, there is one drawback. The sociologist might lose his/her objectivity in the research if he/she faces the discussed problems. That means he/she might not be able to stay out of the described situation and be “value-free”. The advocacy of the scientists might influence the results of their analyses and the desired objectivity of the work might not be achieved.
However, without certain interest in the situation and knowledge about social details the research work will be worthless. For example, an old single man who never worked as a teacher and never saw a living teenager, because he has no children, conducts a sociological research about the peculiarities of criminal teenage behavior in small groups. It is impossible to understand the subject without certain experience in communication with teenagers with criminal behavior. Though, when this sociologist comes to school where such children are studying, he becomes involved in the life of these teenagers. He might understand that not all of them are that bad as it is written in police reports and they are criminals because of life circumstances. Or, for example, this sociologist understands the motives of these teenagers and he/she will not be able to write an objective truth in the research.
Even though the situation with a “value-free” sociological science is quite dubious, it is possible to combine the research and the desire to share the researcher’s attitude to the subject. In this case the sociologist can write a factual work that analyses the social problem objectively. Than this person can write a set of articles, blog-entries or a book to let other people learn about what is going on in the society. As a result, statistics and factual value-free data, mixed with subjective work of art might change the situation to better.