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The Social Science Wars have precipitated a renewed interest in the character, purpose and methods of social science. Positivists and naturalists are criticized by interpretivists and critical theorists, while quantitative researchers are challenged by those who favour qualitative and ethnographic techniques. In turn, mainstream social scientists have responded with a vigorous defence and restatement of their commitments.
Logics of Critical Explanation in Social and Political Theory proposes a novel approach to practising social and political analysis based on the role of logics. The authors articulate a distinctive perspective on social science explanation that avoids the problems of scientism and subjectivism by steering a careful course between lawlike explanations and thick descriptions. Drawing upon hermeneutics, poststructuralism, psychoanalysis, and post-analytical philosophy, this new approach offers a particular set of logics – social, political and fantasmatic – with which to construct critical explanations of practices and regimes.
While the first part of the book critically engages with lawlike, interpretivist and causal approaches to critical explanation, the second part elaborates an alternative grammar of concepts informed by an ontological stance rooted in poststructuralist theory. In developing this approach, a number of empirical cases are included to illustrate its basic concepts and logics, ranging from the apartheid regime in South Africa to recent changes in higher education.
The book will be a valuable tool for scholars and researchers in a variety of related fields of study in the social sciences, especially the disciplines of political science and political theory, international relations, social theory, cultural studies, anthropology and philosophy.
Posted October 5, 2008
Jason Glynos and David Howarth¿s 'hereafter: GH' pose a vigorous challenge to the hegemony of positivism in the social sciences. Logics of Critical Analysis for Social and Political Theory is a comprehensive theoretical tract outlining how to investige concrete empirical phenomena using a poststructuralist discourse analytical framework. Heavily influenced by a Lacanian inspired discourse analysis that emerged out of Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe¿s post-Marxist intervention Hegemony and Socialist Strategy back in 1985, GH¿s intention is to illustrate how a robust, empirically grounded political analysis can be conducted using a combination of three different `logics¿ of investigation. These three logics are, in order of application: a social logic which characterizes relevant social practices and clusters of practices or regimes. The social logic sets out to answer the query, what is the object of investigation? Next is a political logic which is a genealogical investigation that reveals how a social practice or regime became institutionalized 'sedimented' in the social fabric and, alternatively, the possibility it can become `dislocated¿ through counter-hegemonic struggles. Thirdly and to this reviewer most interestingly, there are fantasmatic logics that locate how subjects are `gripped¿ by ideology and thus seemingly are attached to social practices that seem to work against their own interests.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.