There are many different types of social scientists, one of which includes the positivist social scientists, who use methods similar to those of natural science, for the means of understanding society and tend to practice a stricter discipline in study. Those who practice interpretivist social science, by contrast, may use symbolic interpretation or social critique, as opposed to their trying to construct empirically falsifiable theories. The social science model of inquiry process is conducted in a number of stages that are found to be similar to those used in natural sciences, these are the identification of a problem or the formulation of a research question, the development of a relevant hypothesis, the gathering of data, the analysis of the collected data and the drawing of conclusions based on this data.
Following the age of enlightenment, in which many revolutions in philosophy and science occurred around the year 1650, scientists began to understand how little they truly knew about the natural world and humanitys place within it. Great philosophers such as Rousseau and Diderot began laying down the groundwork for modern social science practice in the 18th century, which was codified by works such as those put forth by Auguste Comte and Charles Fourier. It was Comte who first coined the phrase "science sociale" to describe the study and practice of the field taking root. It is therefore noteworthy to investigate the theories of the philosophers in exploring the science in social science.
Social scientists often make use of an eclectic or multiple methodologies, such as the combining of quantitative and qualitative techniques, although the term social research also can encompass a wide umbrella of techniques in and of itself (Kuper and Kuper, 1996).
Parsons (1938) affirms that no science develops in a vacuum either socially or intellectually. The scientific content of any