Max Weber’s “Value-free” Research

According to Max Weber, value-free research is research that is free from the influences of the researcher values (Kendall, 2010). Compared to other analysts who believed that it is hard to separate the research process from values, Max Weber emphasized the importance of conducting value-free research. Ideally, when conducting research, it is possible for the researcher to interfere with the way research is collected, especially when using some research methods. With value-free research, the beliefs of the researcher do not affect the data collection and data analysis procedures. When it comes to value-free research, researchers are expected to observe neutrality. They must exclude non-scientific or ideological assumptions and only base value judgment on technical competence. Practicing value-free research ensures that researchers fulfill the basic value of scientific inquiry, which is the search for true and credible knowledge. 

Consistently, considering the elements of value-free researchers, the ultimate question remains can researchers be value-free or should they try? To answer the question, researchers can be value-free depending on the research method used. For instance, when using quantitative research, data collected is objective with no interference to researchers. This means, if researchers are using quantitative research, they can have value-free research. However, according to Weber, it is hard for researchers, especially sociologists to be totally value-free (Kendall, 2010). For instance, when setting a hypothesis, a researcher may be more focused to prove that one variable causes an effect. In this case, the desire to prove the hypothesis right may lead the research carrying out invalid research. Additionally, although quantitative research relies on objective data, researchers may be inclined to impose their values. For example, researchers may interpret data the way they wish to fit their hypothesis. Nonetheless, does this mean that researchers should not try to be value-free? The answer to this is no. Max Weber stressed the importance of employing an insight or understanding of the world from other people’s perspective. In particular, this means researchers should try as much as possible to achieve value-free research. This is because; it is the only way to achieve true and credible knowledge about the topic of study.

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Kendall, D. E. (2010). Sociology in our times: The essentials. Australia: Wadswoth Cengage Learning.

Ascribed States vs. Achieved Status

In sociology, status is often used to refer to an individual’s position or role among others. At a given time, individuals are likely to hold more than one position. From a sociological perspective, status is important it indicates an individual’s certain set of presumed rights, expectations, and obligations. Usually, there are two types of statuses – achieved and ascribed status. According to Giddens and Griffiths (2006), achieved status is earned through an individual’s effort, while ascribed status refers to an assigned status based on biological factors such as age, sex, and expound on the two statuses, an achieved status is something that comes because the individual earned it. The status is earned through an activity that an individual does to obtain the status. There are certain preconditions an individual has to fulfill to get an achieved status. Notably, an achieved status is synonymous to personal accomplishments in that it depends on individual abilities, qualities, capabilities, and potential. In the contemporary world, an achieved status is not stable and keeps on changes. Besides, it has more importance because it is based on personal qualities and accomplishments. An example of an achieved status is being a doctor, a professor, or a criminal. On the other hand, an ascribed status is assigned or given. In particular, an ascribed status is defined by biological factors or more of an inheritance. For instance, men in society may hold a higher rank as compared to women. The status of being a man is not something that is achieved through personal abilities; rather it is something that is assigned. For example, a family’s social status can be an achieved status for the parents or grandparents, but an ascribed status if the children were born into the status. Another example of an ascribed and achieved status is homelessness – if an individual does something and becomes homeless, then that is achieved status, while children born into homeless parents is an ascribed status because they do not have control over this situation. Additionally, as compared to achieved status, an ascribed status is not easy to change.


Giddens, A., & Griffiths, S. (2006). Sociology. Cambridge: Polity Press.

Labeling Theory of Deviance

The labeling theory of deviance posits that social labeling plays a critical role in the development of crime and deviance. According to Krohn, Lizotte, and Hall (2009), the theory believes that while deviance can be triggered various conditions and causes, labeling of individuals as deviants highly contributes to deviant behavior. For instance, negative stereotypes are likely to increase the likelihood of deviance or the development of criminal behavior. Some scholars argue that deviance is a means of defense or adaptation to a problem created by labeling. In this case, labeling of individuals in a criminal perspective is likely to trigger or reinforce deviance or criminal behavior. To get a better understanding of labeling theory of deviance, take for instance children from affluent and poor neighborhoods. Virtually, when children from an affluent neighborhood engage in activities such as stealing fruits or climbing into other people yards, this behavior is likely to be interpreted as innocent by the police or their parents. However, when the same scenario applies to children in a poor neighborhood, they are most likely to be labeled as tendencies of delinquency. Notably, once an individual is labeled, it becomes extremely hard to remove the label. The labeled individual suffers from stigmatization or is likely to be considered and treated like a criminal by others, which is often hard to get rid of the label.

Consistently, informed by the labeling theory, sociologists distinguish deviance based on primary and secondary deviance. According to Tischler (2007), primary deviance is the behavior that leads to an individual being labeled. For instance, when a child steals for the first time and is labeled as a juvenile delinquent, this falls under the primary deviance category. On the other hand, secondary deviance is the behavior that comes as a result of being labeled as deviant. In this case, when an individual commits a crime because he is labeled as a delinquent then this is secondary deviance. For example, when an individual from a certain community that is labeled as deviant commits a crime because of the stigmatization, then this is secondary deviance. Evidently, it is important to note that stigma plays a significant role in the labeling analysis and development of deviant behavior.


Krohn, M. D., Lizotte, A. J., & Hall, G. P. (2009). Handbook on crime and deviance. Dordrecht: Springer.

Tischler, H. L. (2007). Introduction to sociology. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth/Thomson Learning.

Emile Durkheim on Functions of Religion for Society

Ideally, the structural-functional approach towards religion originates from Emile Durkheim’s work. According to Emile Durkheim, religion is in a way a celebration or self-worship of human society (Cragun & Cragun, 2006). Informed by this approach, Durkheim identified three functions of religion. The first major function of religion is social cohesion. In this case, it means that religion is responsible for maintaining social solidarity through shared beliefs and rituals. The second function of religion is social control, which means that morals and norms based on religion help maintain control in society. The last function is that religion is responsible for providing meaning and purpose to existential questions and elements. Applying this practically, this approach to religion overlooks the dysfunctions in religion. For example, religion has been used to justify violence or motivation for war. In a war, although the approach instigates war, it still provides social cohesion, which is one of the major functions of religion based on Emile Durkheim’s approach.

Within the contemporary world, religion has multiple benefits to individuals and society. Based on Emile Durkheim’s approach, religion provides social cohesion, social control, and gives meaning and purpose to existential questions. Ideally, Americans are gradually losing their faith and turning into a secular society. In this case, the ultimate question remains can a decline in the importance of religion threaten U.S. society? Informed by Emile Durkheim, a decline in the importance of religion cannot threaten the United States society. This is because, while religion plays a significant role in uniting the citizens, there are several other elements that hold society together. For example, the public education system was established to ensure that education was available not only to the upper class but also to the lower class who would not be able to afford education. Additionally, the health care system in the United States has been designed to ensure equality for everyone in the United States. Notably, apart from these two examples, there are several other elements that hold the United States society together. In this case, a decline in the importance of religion cannot threaten U.S. society.

ReferencesCragun, R. T., & Cragun, D. (2006). Introduction to sociology. Seven Treasures Publications.

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