Objectivity in Social Research: A Critical Analysis

Main Article Content

Dr Mukesh Kumar Khatwani
Dr Farida Yasmin Panhwar†


This literature review paper discusses the term ‘Objectivity’ in qualitative research, its importance in social research, and various issues related to establishing objectivity in social research. The paper aims to improve the skills of the novice social researchers and readers. Since more than five decades, the use of qualitative research has been increased in academically developed countries (i.e. USA, UK, Germany, France etc.), and the use of qualitative research in institutions of developing countries has also been witnessed in recent past. Qualitative research explores several areas related to human behaviours and socio-cultural settings/environments. As human behaviours and nature of human interactions are ever changing, hence, the question of objective research arises and makes social research more subjective. Therefore, this study primarily aims to critically analyse the stance of social researchers on objectivity in social research and discuss the possible factors, which may influence qualitative research. Thus, the paper providing the deliberation on objectivity in social research inspires the novice researchers for the development of qualitative research instead of traditional method, deductive, in social research.

Article Details



Agassi, J. B. (1974). Objectivity in the social sciences. In R. J. Seeger and R. S. Cohen (Eds.) Philosophical Foundations of Science (pp.305-316). Dordrecht, Holland: Springer
Bisbee, E. (1937). Objectivity in social sciences. Philosophy of Science, 4(3), 371-382
Bollnow, O. F. (1974). The objectivity of the humanities and the essence of truth. Philosophy Today, 18(4), 3-18
Campbell, R., and Wasco, S. M. (2000). Feminist approaches to social science: Epistemological and methodological tenets. American Journal of Community Psychology, 28, 771-791
Daston, L. (1992). Objectivity and the escape from perspective. Social Studies of Science, 22(4), 597-618
Daston, L., and Galison, P. (2008). Objectivity. New York: Zone Books
Dewey, J. (2003). Social Inquiry. In G. Delanty, and P. Strydom (Eds.), Philosophies of social science: The classic and contemporary readings (pp. 290-299). Maidenhead: Open University Press
Douglas, H. (2004). The irreducible complexity of objectivity. Synthese, 138(3) Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org.ezproxy.sussex.ac.uk /stable/pdfplus/20118400.pdf
Garfinkel, H. (1967). Studies in ethnomethodology. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall
Glaser, B. G., and Strauss, A.L. (1967). The discovery of grounded theory: Strategies for qualitative research. Chicago: Aldine Publishing Company
Harding, S. G. (1995). Strong Objectivity: A response to the new objectivity Question. Synthese, 104, 331-349, Retrieved from: http://philpapers.org/rec/HARSOA
Harding, S. G. (1978). Four contributions values can make to the objectivity of Social Science. Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association, 199-209
Hoenisch, S. (2006). Max Weber’s view of objectivity in social science. Available from: www.Criticism.com
Jones, R. A. (1986). Emile Durkheim: An introduction to four major works. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage Publications, Inc. Available from: http://durkheim.uchicago.edu/Summaries/rules.html
Khatwani, M.K. (2017). Professional women’s experience of autonomy and independence in Sindh-Pakistan, In A., Alvinius (Ed.) Gender differences in different contexts (pp. 93-116). Croatia: Intech Open
Khatwani, M. K. (2016). Professional women’s perceptions & experiences of respectability, social status, and autonomy: A case study of women employed at the University of Sindh, Jamshoro-Pakistan. [PhD Thesis], School of Law, Politics and Sociology, University of Sussex.
Longino, H. E. (1990). Science as social knowledge. New Jersey: Princeton University Press
Mainowski, B. (1925). Argonauts of the western pacific: An account of native enterprise and adventure in the archipelagos of Melanesian New Guinea. New York: Datton
Mohajan, H. (2018). Qualitative research methodology in social sciences and related subjects. Journal of Economic Development, Environment and People, 7(1), 23-48
Moser, P. K. (1988). Observation and objectivity. British Journal of Philosophy of Science, 39(4), 551-561
Morris, S. (n.d). Did Weber think that social science could be ‘objective’? In Paper-1 History and Theories of Social Science, Christ College. Retrieved from: http://www.stewartmorris.com/essays/01Ingham4.pdf
Myrdal, G. (1969). Objectivity in social research. New York: Pantheon.
Natter, W., Schatzki, T. R., and Johnes, J. P. (Eds.) (1995). Objectivity and its others. New York: The Guilford Press
Newell, R.W. (1986). Objectivity, empiricism and truth. London: Routledge & K. Paul
Novick, P (1988). The noble dream: The objectivity and American historical profession. Cambridge University Press
Park, R., and Burgess, E. (1925). The city: Suggestions for the investigation of human behavior in the urban environment. Chicago: University of Chicago Press
Railton, P. (1991). Marx and the objectivity of science. In R. Boyd, P. Gasper, Philip, and J. D. Trout (Eds.) The philosophy of science (pp. 763-773). London: Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Ross. M. (1978). The problem of tainted evidence –The problem of insufficient evidence- the problem of assessment-who is telling the myth? In P. Helm (Ed.) Objective knowledge: A Christian perspective (pp. 131-146). Leicester: Inter-Varsity Press
Sharlin, A. (1974). Max Weber and the origins of the idea of value-free social science. European Journal of Sociology, 15(2), 337-353. Retrieved from www.jstor.org/stable/23998534
Wazibort, R. (2004). Objectivity in social science: Toward a hermeneutical evolutionary theory. Philosophy of the Social Sciences, 34(1), 151-162
Weber, M. (2003). Objectivity in social science. In G. Delanty, and P. Strydom (Eds.) Philosophies of Social Science: The classical and contemporary readings (pp.107-120). Maidenhead: Open University Press