German sociologist and philosopher Max Weber (1864 – 1920) has given the concept of Value Neutrality during Sociological Research.
In simple terms, value neutrality means staying neutral and unbiased during studying or analyzing something.
Understanding the Concept of Value Neutrality in Sociological Research
Value neutrality during sociological research simply means the researcher must remain impartial and unbiased while conducting the research and finding the facts.
In other words, the personal values and beliefs of the researcher must not influence the research findings.
Similarly, he must not skew (add or deduct) the information, facts, and findings of the research in order to reach predetermined conclusions.
A teacher analyzes and marks a religious critique of his student. During analysis, his own religious values and beliefs considerably influence his objective analysis; thus making his analysis totally subjective.
Hence, he fails to remain impartial and unbiased which ultimately impacts the final outcome.
Why should the researcher be value-neutral?
All the social policies, laws, regulations, and resulting social changes are based on sociological research and findings. In case of distorted facts and findings, it would impact the other areas of social policymaking. Ultimately, the results would impact the whole of society.
Therefore, Max Weber suggested that the researcher must not apply his personal ideas, values, and beliefs to his findings.
Is being Value Neutral easy for the Researcher?
Definitely not! Rather, it is very difficult to maintain value neutrality during research.
The reason is; the researcher himself is a part of society. Hence, it becomes a challenging task for him not to apply his personal values and beliefs to the social phenomenon under observation.
How can a researcher maintain value neutrality?
A researcher can be value-neutral by being aware of his own values, beliefs, and moral judgments. Awareness of them can make him prevent them from influencing the research process and findings.
Value neutrality is essential not only for sociological research but for all kinds of research related to any field. The findings of every research conducted must be impartial and unbiased in order to be perfect.
In case, the researcher finds it hard to stay neutral, he must make his audience aware of the subjectivity of the findings, so that they may derive the best results.