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Big Ideas in Social Science

Big Ideas in Social Science

First Edition
Edited by:

December 2015 | 184 pages | SAGE Publications Ltd
Are human beings less violent than before? Why do we adopt certain moral and political judgements? Why is the gap between rich and poor getting bigger? How do we decide which criminal policies are effective? What is the Population Challenge for the 21st Century? What is social science? 

In Big Ideas in Social Science, David Edmonds and Nigel Warburton put these and more of our society’s burning questions to 18 of the world’s leading social scientists including Steven Pinker, Ann Oakley, Lawrence Sherman, Kate Pickett, Robert J. Shiller and Doreen Massey.

The result is a collection of thought-provoking discussions that span the fields of sociology, politics, economics, criminology, geography and many more.From the people who brought us the Philosophy Bites series, Big Ideas in Social Science is a fascinating and accessible introduction to the key ideas and findings of the social sciences.

The interviews for this book are based on a series of podcasts, Social Science Bites, sponsored by SAGE. Social Science Bites was inspired by the popular Philosophy Bites podcast (, which was founded by David and Nigel in 2007 and has so far had 26 million downloads.  Philosophy Bites has spawned three books, Philosophy Bites, Philosophy Bites Back and Philosophy Bites Again.
David Edmonds & Nigel Warburton
Rom Harré
Rom Harré on What is Social Science
Toby Miller
Toby Miller on Cultural Studies
Lawrence Sherman
Lawrence Sherman on Criminology
Jonathan Haidt
Jonathan Haidt on Moral Psychology
Robert J. Shiller
Robert J. Shiller on Behavioural Economics
Sarah Franklin
Sarah Franklin on the Sociology of Reproductive Technology
Ann Oakley
Ann Oakley on Women’s Experience of Childbirth
Sarah Harper
Sarah Harper on the Population Challenge for the 21st Century
Stephen Pinker
Stephen Pinker on Violence and Human Nature
Greg Clark
Greg Clark on Names
Robin Dunbar
Robin Dunbar on Dunbar Numbers
David Goldblatt
David Goldblatt on the Sociology of Football
Trevor Marchand
Trevor Marchand on Craft
Bruce Hood
Bruce Hood on the Supernatural
Doreen Massey
Doreen Massey on Space
Craig Calhoun
Craig Calhoun on Protest Movements
Danny Dorling
Danny Dorling on Inequality
Kate Pickett
Kate Pickett on the Case for Equality

This useful book is packed with insights which will excite the curiosity of the general public, academics and new researchers... each chapter and the additional readings therein will undoubtedly energize readers interested in the subject of the chapter. The book provides multiple perspectives in showing how social science helps us understand how society operates and information to influence politicians to address societal issues.

Mel D'Souza
Qualitative Research in Organizations and Management

I read a lot of books on methodology and the philosophy of the social sciences and I found this one light reading in comparison to most. It performs a necessary function in the wider context of social science methodology literature because the conversational style is intimate and relaxed but does not over-simplify the issues. This is a book you can read ‘on the go’ yet it is edifying. The chapters make sense as stand-alone case studies and offer enough intellectual stimulation to make you think deeply about research in a reflexive way. As I read each chapter I felt my own positionality in relation to the issues much more keenly than I usually do. For that reason especially, I think this is a welcome contribution to the literature.

Gail Edwards
International Journal of Research & Method in Education

The interview format makes it particularly easy to read, and having the journalist probe and challenge the expert on certain aspects of their work gives it an interesting dynamic....this is a useful and engaging collection.

Hannah Grene
SRA Research Matters

A really unusual interesting approach to a book written in play form. Provide information from a wider view point and will be the basis for many discussions.

Mrs Claire Garven
Faculty of Education, University of The West of England
May 27, 2016

great resource for encouraging debate and thought provoking class discussion and personal consideration around issues relating to social science.
Ease of use ++

Ms Clair Rees
Health, Social and Childcare, Neath Port Talbot College
April 27, 2016

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ISBN: 9781473913806
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