解释社会学是马克斯·韦伯（Max Weber）开发的一种方法，它以研究社会趋势和问题时的意义和行动的重要性为中心。这种方法与实证社会学不同，认为人的主观经验，信仰和行为与可观察的客观事实同等重要。解释性社会学是由普鲁士创始人Max Weber领域开发和推广的。这种理论方法和随之而来的研究方法植根于德语单词verstehen，意思是“理解”，特别是对某事有意义的理解。实践解释社会学是试图从参与其中的人的角度来理解社会现象。可以这么说，试图走进别人的鞋子，看到他们所看到的世界。因此，解释社会学着重于理解所研究的人对他们的信仰，价值观，行为，行为以及与人和机构的社会关系所赋予的意义。韦伯的当代艺术家乔治·西梅尔（Georg Simmel）也被公认为解释社会学的主要开发者。在解释性社会学中，研究人员不是试图作为独立的，看似客观的社会现象观察者和分析者而工作，而是努力了解他们所研究的群体如何通过他们为自己的行为赋予的意义积极地构建他们日常生活的现实。以这种方式接近社会学通常需要进行参与式研究，将研究人员嵌入他们研究对象的日常生活中。此外，解释性社会学家努力了解他们所研究的群体如何通过企图同情他们来构建意义和现实，并尽可能地从他们自己的角度理解他们的经历和行为。这意味着采用解释性方法的社会学家努力收集定性数据而不是定量数据，因为采用这种方法而不是实证方法意味着研究以不同的假设来处理主题，询问关于它的不同类型的问题，以及需要不同类型的数据和方法来回答这些问题。解释性社会学家采用的方法包括深入访谈，焦点小组和民族志观察。这种产生理论和研究的方法鼓励社会学家将研究对象视为思考和感受科目而不是科学研究对象。韦伯发展了解释社会学，因为他发现法国创始人ÉmileDurkheim开创的实证社会学缺陷。涂尔干致力于将社会学视为一门科学，将经验的定量数据作为实践的中心。然而，韦伯和西梅尔认识到，实证主义方法无法捕捉所有社会现象，也无法完全解释为什么所有社会现象都会发生或者对它们理解什么是重要的。这种方法侧重于对象（数据），而解释性社会学家则侧重于主体（人）。社会学的实证主义和解释形式产生不同类型的问题和研究的一个领域是研究与之相关的种族和社会问题。对此的实证方法往往侧重于计算和跟踪一段时间内的趋势。这种研究可以说明教育水平，收入或投票模式在种族基础上的差异。像这样的研究可以向我们表明，种族和其他变量之间存在明显的相关性。例如，在美国，亚裔美国人最有可能获得大学学位，其次是白人，然后是黑人，然后是西班牙裔和拉美裔。亚裔美国人和拉美裔人之间的差距很大：25-29岁的人口比例为60％，而只有15％。但是这些定量数据只是告诉我们存在种族教育差异的问题。他们没有解释，他们也没有告诉我们有关它的经验。
Interpretive sociology is an approach developed by Max Weber that centers on the importance of meaning and action when studying social trends and problems. This approach diverges from positivistic sociology by recognizing that the subjective experiences, beliefs, and behavior of people are equally important to study as are observable, objective facts. Interpretive sociology was developed and popularized by Prussian founding figure of the field Max Weber. This theoretical approach and the research methods that go with it is rooted in the German word verstehen, which means “to understand,” in particular to have a meaningful understanding of something. To practice interpretive sociology is to attempt to understand social phenomena from the standpoint of those involved in it. It is, so to speak, to attempt to walk in someone else’s shoes and see the world as they see it. Interpretive sociology is, thus, focused on understanding the meaning that those studied give to their beliefs, values, actions, behaviors, and social relationships with people and institutions. Georg Simmel, a contemporary of Weber, is also recognized as a major developer of interpretive sociology. Within interpretive sociology, rather than attempting to work as detached, seemingly objective observers and analyzers of social phenomena, researchers instead work to understand how the groups they study actively construct the reality of their everyday lives through the meaning they give to their actions. To approach sociology this way is often necessary to conduct participatory research that embeds the researcher in the daily lives of those they study. Further, interpretive sociologists work to understand how the groups they study construct meaning and reality through attempts to empathize with them, and as much as possible, to understand their experiences and actions from their own perspectives. This means that sociologists who take an interpretive approach work to collect qualitative data rather than quantitative data because taking this approach rather than a positivistic one means that a research approaches the subject matter with different kinds of assumptions, asks different kinds of questions about it, and requires different kinds of data and methods for responding to those questions. The methods interpretive sociologists employ include in-depth interviews, focus groups, and ethnographic observation. This approach to producing theory and research encourages sociologists to view those studied as thinking and feeling subjects as opposed to objects of scientific research. Weber developed interpretive sociology because he saw a deficiency in the positivistic sociology pioneered byFrench founding figure Émile Durkheim. Durkheim worked to make sociology be seen as a science by centering empirical, quantitative data as its practice. However, Weber and Simmel recognized that the positivistic approach is not able to capture all social phenomena, nor is it able to fully explain why all social phenomena occur or what is important to understand about them. This approach focuses on objects (data) whereas interpretive sociologists focus on subjects (people). One area in which positivistic and interpretive forms of sociology produce very different kinds of questions and research is the study of race and social issues connected with it. Positivistic approaches to this are of study tend to focus on counting and tracking trends over time. This kind of research can illustrate things like how education level, income, or voting patterns differ on the basis of race. Research like this can show us that there are clear correlations between race and these other variables. For example, within the U.S., Asian Americans are the most likely to earn a college degree, followed by whites, then Blacks, then Hispanics and Latinos. The gap between Asian Americans and Latinos is vast: 60 percent of those aged 25-29 versus just 15 percent. But these quantitative data simply show us that a problem of educational disparity by race exists. They don’t explain it, and they don’t tell us anything about the experience of it.