Applying social science: The role of social research in politics, policy and practice

Applying social science: The role of social research in politics, policy and practice

by David S. Byrne (Editor)


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In complex contemporary societies social science has become increasingly interwoven into the whole fabric of governance. At the same time there is an increasing recognition that attempts to understand the social world which seek to mimic the linear approaches of the conventional 'hard sciences' are mostly useless given the complex systems character of society in all its aspects. This book draws on a synthesis of critical realism and complexity theory to examine how social science is applied now and how it might be applied in the future in relation to social transformation in a time of crisis. A central argument is that there is no such thing as a 'pure' science of the social and that a recognition of the inevitability of application imposes obligations on social scientists wherever they work which challenge the passivity of most in the face of inequality and injustice.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781847424501
Publisher: Bristol University Press
Publication date: 02/16/2011
Pages: 240
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.20(h) x 0.50(d)

About the Author

David Byrne is professor emeritus of applied social sciences at Durham University.

Table of Contents

Abbreviations and acronyms iv

Introduction 1

1 The methodological foundations of applied social science 19

2 Constructing evidence: the development of knowledge which is to be applied 41

3 Surveying the social world: assembling knowledge as a basis for action 61

4 Evaluating: determining the worth of social interventions 79

5 Legitimating: the selective use of social science in justifying policy and practice 99

6 Consulting: the role of social research in relation to new modes of governance 121

7 Modelling: representing the world in order to understand how it works 139

8 Acting 155

9 The academy and beyond: applied social research in the real world 175

10 Concluding 195

Bibliography 209

Index 223

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