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Positivism, in its most general sense, is a doctrine that maintains that the study of the human or social world should be organised according to the same principles as the study of the physical or natural world. In simple terms, positivism maintains that the social sciences should be modelled on the natural sciences. This broad definition encompasses numerous variants, depending first on what are taken to be the characteristic features of the natural sciences and second on which of these features are to be applied in the social sciences. Accordingly, a very wide range of social theories have been designated positivist, even though they show little similarity in terms of notions of data, mode of analysis, or explanatory objective.

Historically, the popularity of positivism has waxed ...

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