What Is the Difference Between Positivism and Interpretivism?

Developed by French philosopher Auguste Comte, the theory of positivism asserts that all justifiable claims may be verified by scientific proofs involving the physical senses. This method of thought contrasts with interpretivism's emphasis on the metaphysical elements of social interaction through which people may make adjustments around one another.

Comte's positivist approach to sociology insists that all interpretations may be proven and verified exclusively through physical sensation. Through this perspective, social structures become rigid and absolute in the context that all rules established by an authority must be validated due to their inheritance from existing mandates. Interpretive sociology contests positivism in that it examines factors of immaterial causes that cannot be determined through material surroundings, and it invests subjective interest in collaborative efforts within societies.

Interpretivism additionally considers elements of physical environments as sources of knowledge that may transcend between material and immaterial spheres of being, focusing on each element's individual role under collective circumstances. Positivist theories argue that all interpretations of reality are grounded within a purely objective framework without questioning principles of moral value. In this sense, positivism seeks to explain how people operate within their societies, while interpretivism seeks to understand why people and their societies operate in the manner that they do.