It has become one of the platitudes of sociological teaching and conversation in Britain that we have now passed through, or transcended, an earlier positivistic phase; the point of transition is generally taken to be around the late 1960s. The request for papers for the 1980 BSA conference was quite representative in offering as a topic ‘Positivism and after’, with the implication that we had had positivism but that it is now dead, although it is not yet clear what is to replace it. This chapter poses the question of whether this is a correct historical account, considers how prevalent it has become and what is meant by it, and discusses some of the implications.