What forms of knowledge can social science claim to produce? Does it employ causal analysis, and if so what does this entail? What role should values play in the work of social scientists?
These are the questions addressed in this book. They are closely interrelated, and the answers offered here challenge many currently prevailing assumptions. They carry implications both for research practice, quantitative or qualitative, and for the public claims that social scientists make about the value of their work.
The arguments underpinning this challenge to conventional wisdom are laid out in detail in the first half of the book. In later chapters their implications are explored for two substantive areas of intrinsic importance: the study of social mobility and educational inequalities; and explanations for urban riots, notably those that took place in London and other English cities in the summer of 2011.
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About the Author
Martyn Hammersley is Emeritus Professor of Educational and Social Research at The Open University, UK. He has carried out research in the sociology of education and the sociology of the media. However, much of his work has been concerned with the methodological issues surrounding social enquiry. He has written several books, including (with Paul Atkinson) Ethnography: Principles in Practice (Third edition, Routledge 2007), The Dilemma of Qualitative Method (Routledge, 1989), The Politics of Social Research (SAGE, 1995), Reading Ethnographic Research (Second edition, Longman 1997), Taking Sides in Social Research (Routledge, 2000), Educational Research, Policymaking and Practice, (London, Paul Chapman/SAGE, 2002), Questioning Qualitative Inquiry (SAGE, 2008), Methodology Who Needs It? (SAGE, 2011), The Myth of Research-Based Policy and Practice (SAGE, 2013), and The Limits of Social Science (SAGE, 2014). Website: http://martynhammersley.wordpress.com/
Table of Contents
IntroductionCausation and qualitative inquiryThe problem of explanation in social science: A Weberian solution?On the role of values in social researchFrom facts to value judgments? A critique of critical realismCan social science tell us whether a society is meritocratic? A Weberian critiqueWe didn’t predict a riot! On the public contribution of social scienceEpilogue