The History of the Social Sciences since 1945

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This compact volume covers the main developments in the social sciences since the Second World War. Chapters on economics, human geography, political science, psychology, social anthropology, and sociology will interest anyone wanting short, accessible histories of those disciplines, all written by experts in the relevant field; they will also make it easy for readers to make comparisons between disciplines. A final chapter proposes a blueprint for a history of the social sciences as a whole. Whereas most of the existing literature considers the social sciences in isolation from one other, this volume shows that they have much in common; for example, they have responded to common problems using overlapping methods, and cross-disciplinary activities have been widespread. The focus throughout the book is on societal pressures on knowledge production rather than just theoretical lineages. This book is noteworthy because it • Is the first book that puts together histories of the main social sciences since World War II, each written by a discipline specialist • Enables the readers to realize that what they see as specific to their own discipline is in fact common to several • Contains a chapter that proposes a blueprint for a history of the social sciences as a whole

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"The History of the Social Sciences since 1945 maps the conceptual, social, and institutional contexts of economics, political science, sociology, social anthropology, psychology, and human geography. These important fields have shaped contemporary discourse about the human self, in both individual and collective registers, and deeply influenced policy and practice in the modern world. Individual chapters on separate disciplines, written by respected scholars, take us through the intricacies and the editors' conclusion teases out subtle connections between different fields, sketching a big-picture perspective. The volume is a welcome contribution to the scant historiography, and provides fascinating reading for academic specialists, disciplinary practitioners, or the interested layperson." - James H. Capshew, Indiana University; Editor (2006-09), History of Psychology

"As in all histories of the social sciences, questions of field definitions, paradigms, and boundaries are well addressed here. But the authors take us well beyond these to probe essential issues such as the relative influence across the six disciplines they cover of social scientists' war service, the postwar expansion of higher education, strong pressures toward Americanization, government and foundation patronage, experiments in interdisciplinarity, quantification, hermeneutics, postmodernism, and the cultural turn. They look as well at influences of ideologically charged developments such as the Cold War, decolonization, feminism, the Vietnam War, and the rise of conservative governments - and social science supporting them - in the Anglophone world. The book expertly registers the dazzling multiplicity of local and general factors shaping the construction of social knowledge over the past half century." - Mary O. Furner, University of California, Santa Barbara

"In this pathbreaking book a team of historians of the social sciences examines the experiences of their disciplines, seen together since World War II. They find many similarities and but also many differences. In a thoughtful and stimulating conclusion the editors, Backhouse and Fontaine, draw the stories together, identify common themes, and perhaps most importantly, point out the payoff that may come from this eclectic and integrated approach to the histories. Historians and social scientists more generally will find this a valuable and provocative volume." - Craufurd D. Goodwin, Duke University

"These analytically ambitious essays demonstrate the common direction of the several social scientific disciplines in the second half of the 20th century while taking careful and sophisticated account of the technical particulars of each discipline." - David A. Hollinger, University of California, Berkeley

"Backhouse and Fontaine's collection is the first fruit of an important initiative to comprehend the postwar social sciences as key participants in a new era of social welfare and democratic capitalism. Particularly welcome is their ambition to look beyond the boundaries of discipline and to conceive as a whole what so often is portrayed in fragments." - Theodore M. Porter, University of California, Los Angeles

"The... chapters are equally well proportioned and interesting, especially as one can through them look behind the veil and see the workings of sister disciplines in a way that is not often available." - Contemporary Sociology

In their book The History of the Social Sciences Since 1945 editors Roger Backhouse and Philippe Fontaine provide a context within which one can begin to appreciate the ways in which psychology has been a part of the social science community since World War II. They deserve a great deal of credit for approaching the history of the social sciences during this period in a very deliberate manner...." - John G. Benjafield, Brock University, PsycCRITIQUES

"...excellent...a great success." - David W. Park, Lake Forest College, Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521889063
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 5/24/2010
  • Pages: 268
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Roger E. Backhouse was a lecturer at University College London and at the University of Keele, before moving to the University of Birmingham in 1980, where he has been Professor of the History and Philosophy of Economics since 1996. In 2009 he took a part-time position at Erasmus University Rotterdam. After writing two textbooks on macroeconomics, he moved into the history of economics and methodology, on which he has published many articles in the leading journals, including History of Political Economy, Journal of the History of Economic Thought and European Journal of the History of Economic Thought. His books include A History of Modern Economic Analysis (1985), Economists and the Economy (1994), Truth and Progress in Economic Knowledge (1997) and The Penguin History of Economics (2002) (published in North America as The Ordinary Business of Life [2002]). Books he has edited include The Cambridge Companion to Keynes (with Bradley W. Bateman). He has been review editor of the Economic Journal, editor of the Journal of Economic Methodology and associate editor of the Journal of the History of Economic Thought.

Philippe Fontaine is Professor of Economics in the Department of Economics at the École Normale Supérieure de Cachan and a Senior Fellow of the Institut Universitaire de France. In 2003–4, he was Ludwig Lachmann Research Fellow at the Department of Philosophy of the London School of Economics and Political Science. He is the co-editor of The Unsocial Social Science? Economics and Neighboring Disciplines Since 1945 (Duke University Press, 2010). He has written for a number of journals including Economics and Philosophy, History of Political Economy, Isis and the British Journal of Sociology. He is Associate Editor of the Revue de Philosophie Économique. In 2005, he received the Best Article Award of the Forum for the History of Human Science. In 2008, he was the recipient of the prix d'excellence en sciences sociales (Foundation Mattei Dogan/CNRS).

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Table of Contents

Notes on Contributors


1 Introduction 1

2 Psychology Philippe Fontaine Fontaine, Philippe 16

3 Economics Mitchell G. Ash Ash, Mitchell G. 38

4 Political Science Roger E. Backhouse Backhouse, Roger E. 71

5 Sociology Mark Bevir Bevir, Mark 102

6 Social Anthropology Jennifer Platt Platt, Jennifer 136

7 Human Geography Adam Kuper Kuper, Adam 155

8 Toward a History of the Social Sciences Ron Johnston Johnston, Ron 184

Index Philippe Fontaine Fontaine, Philippe 235

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