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Positivism

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Definition: Positivism is a way of thinking developed by Auguste Comte and is based on the assumption that it is possible to observe social life and establish reliable, valid knowledge about how it works. This knowledge can then be used to affect the course of social change and improve the human condition. Positivism also argues that sociology should concern itself only with what can be observed with the senses and that theories of social life should be built in a rigid, linear, and methodical way on a base of verifiable fact. It has had relatively little influence on contemporary sociology, however, because it is argued that it encourages a misleading emphasis on superficial facts without any attention to underlying mechanisms that cannot be observed.

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