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Making Social Science Matter

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


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

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About the Authors
  • Making Social Science Matter presents an exciting new approach to the social and behavioral sciences 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 sciences lies 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 opens up a new future for the social sciences. Its empowering message will make it required reading for students and academics across 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 social science that matters.' Pierre Bourdieu

    '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, University of California, Berkeley

    '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

    '… suggestive and well written'. Science

    'As a practical guide to newcomers to the social sciences, or as a corrective to those who think that more and better 'objective' research will automatically turn social science into a clone of natural science, Bent Flyvbjerg's book is useful.' Harry Collins, The Times Higher Education Supplement

    'Flyvbjerg's book re-thinks social science in a fasinating way; a way that demands a debate on how social science endeavours are supported, understood and used by society.' Environmental Politics

    'Flyvbjerg's work on phronesis is valuable …'. International Planning Studies

    '… this timely and challenging book'. European Journal of Communication

    'Flyvbjerg's book is important and I would recommend it to all researchers of urban affairs. Making Social Science Matter is an important milestone in the discussion of how social science research might be undertaken and 'matter'. Flyvbjerg's discussion opens out for debate many of the key issues regarding research with social implications. This book is likely to remain a key reference for some time.' Urban Studies

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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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