In social science, antipositivism (also interpretivism, negativism or antinaturalism) is a theoretical stance that proposes that the social realm cannot be studied with the scientific method of investigation utilized within the natural sciences, and that investigation of the social realm requires a different epistemology. Fundamental to that antipositivist epistemology is the belief that the concepts and language that researchers use in their research shape their perceptions of the social world they are investigating and defining.
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Interpretivism (anti-positivism) developed among researchers dissatisfied with post-positivism, the theories of which they considered too general and ill-suited to reflect the nuance and variability found in human interaction. Because the values and beliefs of researchers cannot fully be removed from their inquiry, interpretivists believe research on human beings by human beings cannot yield objective results. Thus, rather than seeking an objective perspective, interpretivists look for meaning in the subjective experiences of individuals engaging in social interaction. Many interpretivist researchers immerse themselves in the social context they are studying, seeking to understand and formulate theories about a community or group of individuals by observing them from the inside. Interpretivism is an inductive practice influenced by philosophical frameworks such as hermeneutics, phenomenology, and symbolic interactionism. Interpretive methods are used in many fields of the social sciences, including history, sociology, political science, anthropology, and others.