Experiments In Knowing

Experiments In Knowing

by Ann Oakley


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This important book explores the history, ideology and implications of methodology or 'ways of knowing' in the social and natural sciences. It extends arguments developed in the author's previous work that divisions between 'quantitative' and 'qualitative' methods are unhelpful in the pursuit of useful knowledge, and that a major challenge facing scientists, academics and the public today is the need to scrutinize the claims professionals of all kinds make to possess effective expertise. The rejection of 'quantitative' and experimental ways of knowing, in particular, prevents us from understanding both the parameters of social inequality and the effects of professional interventions in people's lives. As a methodological position adopted by feminists, postmodernists and others, it obstructs the development of a critical and emancipatory social science.

Oakley examines the historical development of methodology in the social and natural sciences and argues that these disciplines have been subject to a process of 'gendering'. This has produced an ideological reaction against, rather than a relevant understanding of, the role of 'quantitative' and experimental methods. She suggests that there are considerable problems with a retreat into 'qualitative' methods as offering a more democratic way of knowing. A strong focus on the development, uses (and abuses) of experimental ways of knowing provides a critical analysis of current public understandings in this area; the book demonstrates that many early developments using the experimental approach took place in social science, and not only in medicine, as is commonly believed.

Experiments in Knowing fills an important gap in the methodological literature, and is likely to generate considerable debate. It addresses themes of common interest across many different fields, including social policy, health and education research and women's studies.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780745622576
Publisher: Wiley
Publication date: 01/31/2000
Pages: 416
Product dimensions: 0.85(w) x 6.00(h) x 9.00(d)

About the Author

Ann Oakley is a professor of sociology at the University of London. Her previous books include Gender on Planet Earth and Experiments in Knowing (both published by The New Press), The Men’s Room, The Captured Womb, Subject Women, Becoming a Mother, Woman’s Work, The Sociology of Housework, and Sex, Gender and Society.

Table of Contents

Part I: Modern Problems.

1. Who Knows?.

2. Paradigm Wars.

3. Hearing the Grass Grow.

Part II: A Brief History of Methodology.

4. Cartesian Nightmares.

5. Mean Values.

6. Imagining Social Science.

7. Chance is a Fine Thing.

Part III: Experiments and Their Enemies.

8. Experimental Sociology: The Early Years.

9. Of NITS and LIFE and Other Things.

10. Lessons from America.

11. The Rights of Animals and Other Creatures.

Part IV: Moving On.

12. People's Ways of Knowing.

13. Challenges of an Experimenting Society.


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