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Elucidating Social Science Concepts: An Interpretivist Guide
     

Elucidating Social Science Concepts: An Interpretivist Guide

by Frederic Charles Schaffer
 

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This book is a guide to working with social science concepts. Concepts are the prisms through which we see the social world. They are foundational to the social science enterprise, and the quality of investigations hinges in part on how well researchers make use of them. Most social science concepts are drawn from ordinary language used in everyday ways; however,

Overview

This book is a guide to working with social science concepts. Concepts are the prisms through which we see the social world. They are foundational to the social science enterprise, and the quality of investigations hinges in part on how well researchers make use of them. Most social science concepts are drawn from ordinary language used in everyday ways; however, many social scientists "reconfigure" ordinary words to meet their research needs. They tinker with the meanings of words to fit their theoretical aims and make them precise, useful tools of measurement and comparison.

This book examines social science concepts through an interpretivist lens with the aim of providing concrete conceptual guidance for future research. Specifically, this book seeks to: 1) identify characteristic dangers that attend the making and use of reconfigured concepts; 2) lay out ways in which a select number of interpretivist approaches have been used to mitigate these dangers; 3) introduce practical tools that rework these interpretivist approaches into explicit and useable research methods; 4) show concretely how these elucidation tools can be gainfully used by social scientists working both within and outside of the interpretivist tradition. It will be an essential guide for social science research.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"A century after Dilthey, we are familiar with what interpretivists are opposed to. Now we know what one extremely clear-thinking member of the tradition thinks interpretivism ought to mean with respect to social science concepts. Written in a plain-speaking and practical way, the book speaks to more than concepts: although interpretivists will be the main consumers, noninterpretivists will be curious to see the contents." —John Gerring, Boston University

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780415893268
Publisher:
Taylor & Francis
Publication date:
08/05/2015
Series:
Routledge Series on Interpretive Methods Series
Pages:
134
Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.40(d)

Meet the Author

Frederic Charles Schaffer is a Professor of Political Science at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. He is chair of the Committee on Concepts and Methods of the International Political Science Association and teaches ethnographic methods at the Institute for Qualitative and Multi-Method Research, which is attended each summer by approximately 180 participants from schools, departments, and research centers around the world. A past Program Chair for the Interpretation and Methods Conference Group of the American Political Science Association, he now serves as a member of the Group’s Executive Committee. Schaffer is the author of Democracy in Translation: Understanding Politics in an Unfamiliar Culture and The Hidden Costs of Clean Election Reform, and the editor of Elections for Sale: The Causes and Consequences of Vote Buying.

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