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Making Social Science Matter

Making Social Science Matter
Why Social Inquiry Fails and How it Can Succeed Again

$35.99 (P)

  • Date Published: January 2001
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521775687

$ 35.99 (P)

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About the Authors
  • Making Social Science Matter presents an exciting new approach to social science, including theoretical argument, methodological guidelines, and examples of practical application. Why has social science failed in attempts to emulate natural science and produce normal theory? Bent Flyvbjerg argues that the strength of social science is in its rich, reflexive analysis of values and power, essential to the social and economic development of any society. Richly informed, powerfully argued, and clearly written, this book provides essential reading for all those in the social and behavioral sciences.

    • Exciting new approach to social science, complete with theoretical argument, methodology, and examples of practical application
    • Makes complex issues accessible to undergraduates and graduates in clearly structured and readable prose
    • Danish edition in its eighth printing and still selling strongly
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    Reviews & endorsements

    "This is a book I have been waiting for for a long time. It opens up entirely new perspectives for social science by showing us that abandoning the aspiration to be like natural science is the beginning of wisdom about what we can and ought to be doing instead. It is a landmark book that deserves the widest possible reading and discussion." Robert Bellah, Professor of Sociology, Emeritus, at University of California, Berkeley

    "[Flyvbjerg] convinces the reader that applied social sciences have a valuable destiny, and that context dependent research is worthwhile...this book provides researchers in the field of urban studies with very useful tools and guidelines for getting involved with case studies and context dependent research." CJUR

    "This brilliant contextualization of social inquiry, hinging on both Aristotle and Foucault, gives new meaning to the concept of praxis. It will be of interest to everyone concerned with making democracy work." Ed Soja, School of Public Policy, University of California, Los Angeles

    "This is social science that matters." Pierre Bourdieu, Director of Studies at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, Paris, and Director of the Centre de Sociologie Européenne

    "In seeking to move beyond the science wars, his engaging and thoughtful book provides welcome relief from the polemical arrogence of self-serving protagonists and uncritical analysts." Current Anthropology

    "Flyvbjerg, author of Rationality and Power: Democracy in Practice, an innovative, fine-grained and civically-engaged study of local power in Denmark, here reflects, in accessible and pleasurable prose, on large, challenging questions: What, fundamentally, makes social science different from natural science? Why is it relatively so poor in producing cumulative and predictive theories? What kinds of knowledge should it seek and with what methods? His answers, drawing on Nietzsche, Foucault, Bourdieu and others, are worth the close attention of those predisposed to reject them out of hand." Steven Lukes, New York University

    "Flyvberg clearly demonstrates that there are models more appropriate to the social sciences than those derived from molecular biology, high-energy physics, the mathematical theory of games, and other up-market, hard-fact enterprises. But Flyvberg's suggestive, well-written little book both reviews most of the apparent possibilities and establishes standards (practical and political, ethical and methodological) by which to measure their progress." Science

    "Flyvbjerg offers a strong case for his main thesis and, therefore, this work deserves wide and serious attention among social scientists and social policy planners and implementers." Choice

    "This book is a thoughtful antidote to the simple views that see social science as a science like any other--positivistic science. It begins with a well-grounded empirical case of the development and application of expert knowledge, then... concludes with some salient observations based on the author's own feedback and research practice." Public Administration Quarterly

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    Product details

    • Date Published: January 2001
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521775687
    • length: 212 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 152 x 10 mm
    • weight: 0.36kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. The science wars: a way out
    Part I. Why Social Science has Failed as Science:
    2. Rationality, body, and intuition in human learning
    3. Is theory possible in social science?
    4. Context counts
    Part II. How Social Science Can Matter Again:
    5. Values in social and political inquiry
    6. The power of example
    7. The significance of conflict and power to social science
    8. Empowering Aristotle
    9. Methodological guidelines for a reformed social science
    10. Examples and illustrations: narratives of value and power
    11. Social science that matters

  • Instructors have used or reviewed this title for the following courses

    • American Civilization
    • Applied Sociology
    • Approaches to the Study of Politics
    • Focus on the Social Sciences
    • Graduate Seminar in Rhetoric and Public Address
    • Qualitative Research
    • Urban Research Methods
  • Author

    Bent Flyvbjerg, University of Oxford


    Steven Sampson

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