This paper seeks to analyze and justify the placement of the academic field of media and communication into the broad field of the social sciences as against the humanities or cultural studies. The Social Sciences strive to understand and interpret phenomena 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 because it emanates from the 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.
Alakwe, K. O. (2017). Positivism and knowledge inquiry: From scientific method to media and communication research. Specialty Journal of Humanities and Cultural Science, 2(3), 38-46.
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Alakwe is a scholar and media/communication expert with an interest in academic research in development communication, behavioural change communication and the cultural and creative industry, with work experience spanning marketing communication, logistics, hospitality, and professional services. Currently working as an adjunct faculty at the School of Media and Communication, Pan-Atlantic University, and responsible for strategy formulation and leading the team at Gotcha Communications Limited to drive growth. Alakwe holds a bachelor’s degree in Botany from the University of Port Harcourt, an MBA from the University of Nigeria, and a master’s in Media and Communication from Pan-Atlantic University. He is the first ever doctorate degree graduate from the prestigious School of Media and Communication, Pan-Atlantic University and an alumnus of the Institute of Promotional Marketing, London. As an adjunct faculty, Alakwe teaches Media, Human Person and Society, Professional Ethics, and Advanced Communication Research Methods. Alakwe has published in both local and international peer-reviewed journals.