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Pioneers of Sociological Science
Statistical Foundations and the Theory of Action


  • Date Published: February 2021
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781108927833

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About the Authors
  • Goldthorpe reveals the genealogy of present-day sociological science through studies of the key contributions made by seventeen pioneers in the field, ranging from John Graunt and Edmond Halley in the mid-seventeenth century to Otis Dudley Duncan, James Coleman and Raymond Boudon in the late twentieth. Goldthorpe's biographies of these figures and analyses of their work reveal clear lines of intellectual descent, building towards the author's model of sociology as the study of human populations across time and place, previously outlined in his book Sociology as a Population Science (Cambridge, 2015). The extent to which recent developments such as computational sociology and analytical sociology are in continuation with the efforts of these influential thinkers is also critically examined. Pioneers of Sociological Science will appeal to students and scholars of sociology and to anyone engaged in social science research, from statisticians to social historians.

    • Gives a detailed account of the genealogy of sociological science in terms of the contributions of seventeen pioneers, from the mid-17th century onwards
    • Shows the historical roots of many present-day standard research practices and of how they were developed to deal with particular problems
    • Concludes with a critical analysis of how contemporary developments in sociological science are aligned with the efforts and objectives of the pioneers
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'John Goldthorpe's earlier work such as On Sociology and Sociology as a Population Science has contributed in lucid and seminal ways to the integration of empirical research and theory formation in sociology, convincingly showing, too, that sociological theory, adequately conceived, differs very much from second-hand history of ideas. His new book Pioneers of Sociological Science, provocative and vintage Goldthorpe in its clarity, is a major contribution to the genealogy of sociology as a population science. Providing a critical account of the ideas of pioneers, the book shows how core principles of sociology as an empirically and theoretically informed discipline have been shaped.' Werner Raub, Professor of Sociology, Utrecht University

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    Product details

    • Date Published: February 2021
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781108927833
    • length: 280 pages
    • dimensions: 230 x 150 x 14 mm
    • weight: 0.39kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. The Beginnings: Graunt and Halley
    2. Quetelet and his Critics
    3. The English Statisticians: Galton, Pearson and Yule: Appendix: The English Statisticians and the Cambridge Economists
    4. The Sample Survey Specialists: Kiaer, Bowley and Neyman
    5. Weber and the Concept of Action
    6. From Columbia to Chicago: Ogburn and Sociology as Science
    7. From Chicago back to Columbia: Stouffer, Lazarsfeld and Merton: Appendix: The Missing Link? – Karl Popper
    8. Duncan and Sociology as a Population Science
    9. The Return to the Concept of Action and Micro-Macro Relations: Coleman and Boudon
    10. Conclusion: Progress and Prospects.

  • Author

    John H. Goldthorpe, University of Oxford
    John H. Goldthorpe is Official Fellow at Nuffield College, University of Oxford, a Fellow of the British Academy, a Foreign Member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, and an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Statistical Society.

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