Pub. date: 2007 | Online Pub. Date: September 25, 2007 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412952637 | Print ISBN: 9780761923879 | Online ISBN: 9781412952637| Publisher:Sage Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Interpretivism is an epistemological position in social science. One can contrast it with other positions, such as positivism, realism, and poststructuralism. It is associated with the methodological writings of Max Weber (1864–1920), although an earlier generation of German humanistic scholars also advanced interpretive ideas. In the twentieth century, Weber's ideas were critiqued and developed by Alfred Schutz (1899–1959). Interpretive philosophy of social science was further advanced by Peter Winch (1926–1997) and hermeneutic scholars such as Wilhelm Dilthey (1833–1911) and Hans-Georg Gadamer (1900–2002). These ideas have influenced constructionist movements in social science, such as the sociology of scientific knowledge, and empirical traditions such as symbolic interactionism and ethnomethodology. Interpretivism has also been absorbed into social theory generally. Three examples are Jürgen Habermas, Pierre Bourdieu (1930–2002), and Anthony Giddens, who have all tried to reconcile how people act through making sense, and yet are constrained by preexisting social structures, in developing general ...