Positivism and Knowledge Inquiry: From Scientific Method to Media and Communication Researc
All forms of research seek to understand and interpret phenomena. However, knowledge-inquiry is almost always discipline-specific. The Social Sciences strive to understand and interpret phenomenon through an empirical, rational and objective methodology which facilitates the presentation of “facts”, facts that play a contributory role towards knowledge. First propounded by the 19th Century, French sociologist and philosopher, Auguste Comte, Positivism recognizes scientific knowledge as authentic as it results from positive affirmation of existing theories through the scientific method. The traditional approach in positivism (as propounded by Comte, Spencer, and Durkheim) thus identifies a close relationship between the social sciences and the natural sciences. Consequently, this paper attempts to highlight the close relationship between philosophy, the scientific method (a popular approach in research in the natural and social sciences) and research methodologies in media and communication studies and thus endorses its place in the social sciences as against humanities. Leveraging on extant literature, this paper defends the placement of media and communication studies in the social sciences, even though it retains a strong relationship with the humanities. It further highlights the centrality of positivism as a school of philosophy in knowledge inquiry in the social sciences with particular reference to media and communications research.