Social Science

Approaches and Methodologies in the Social Sciences: A by Donatella della Porta, Michael Keating

By Donatella della Porta, Michael Keating

A innovative new textbook introducing masters and doctoral scholars to the key examine techniques and methodologies within the social sciences. Written by way of an excellent set of students, and derived from winning direction educating, this quantity will empower scholars to decide on their very own method of examine, to justify this procedure, and to situate it in the self-discipline. It addresses questions of ontology, epistemology and philosophy of social technology, and proceeds to problems with technique and examine layout crucial for generating a great examine notion. It additionally introduces researchers to the most problems with debate and competition within the technique of social sciences, selecting commonalities, ancient continuities and real ameliorations.

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Extra resources for Approaches and Methodologies in the Social Sciences: A Pluralist Perspective

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This is one reason why relationships that may have held in the past might not hold in the future (Hay 2002). The humanistic approaches shift the emphasis further towards the subjective. In this perspective, what distinguishes human science from natural sciences is that human behaviour is always filtered by the subjective understandings of external reality on the part of the people being studied and the researcher him/herself. Social science is therefore, in the often-quoted definition proposed by Clifford Geertz (1973: 5), ‘Not an experimental science in search of laws but an interpretative science in search of meaning’.

Others follow a more nuanced ‘two-plus-one’ approach, with two more extreme positions and a more moderate version of one of them (as in Corbetta 2003). In whatfollows, we have constructed some simplified ideal types of rival approaches in order to explore their inherent logic. Such devices are inescapable if we are to understand clearly the main issues at stake, although in practice social science research is more complex and different approaches are mixed in various ways. We do not claim that any social scientists follow precisely these formulations, but many of the issues discussed below provide relevant guidelines for the methodological choices we often have to make in our research.

This is what Sil (2004) suggests under the label of eclecticism, where problems of incommensurability are not absolute and comparisons can be made across fields to the advantage of both empirical knowledge and theoretical innovation. Further problems are caused by the tendency for concepts or expressions to become fashionable and then stretched beyond their original or indeed any useful meaning. In recent years, for example, the use of the word ‘governance’ has exploded. For some scholars, this is a specific phenomenon distinct from government and capable of operationalization, but for others it is used interchangeably with government.

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