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Social Science in Question

Social Science in Question
Towards a Postdisciplinary Framework

October 1998 | 352 pages | SAGE Publications Ltd
How do social scientists study the social world? Is social scientific practice in transformation? Can social science learn from its own past?

This major text takes the reader on an intellectual journey starting with the story of modern science and the impact that this has had on social scientific practice, and going on to outline and critically review the major approaches to social scientific

inquiry, ranging from positivism to postmodernism. Throughout, readers are encouraged to think carefully about what it means to: study the social world in a scientific way; make connections between what they do and the everyday lives of the people they study; and look beyond their discipline and think in a postdisciplinary way.

Social Science in Question is the Course Text for The Open University's Postgraduate Foundation Module (D820 The Challenge of the Social Sciences).

Social Science as a Situated Practice
The Story of Science
The Emergence of the Social Sciences
Imagination and Complexity in the Social Sciences
Paradigms, Conventions and Relativism
Language, Discourse and Culture
Rethinking Representation in the Social Sciences

Situated Knowledges
Rethinking Knowledge and Reality


`The strength of this book lies in the demystification of of epistemological and ontological issues to a wide audience. Moreover, it is a stylistic breath of fresh air with comments and diagrams in the margins, chapter activities and readings and a general keywords glossary. In conclusion this book contributes in a stimulating way to the large literature on social philosophy and research methodology. It will be a useful guide and decoder, both historically and currently, to a wide social science audience across various learning levels' - BSA Network

`This is yet another outstanding product of The Open University system for producing teaching materials of the highest quality. Mark Smith has given us a book which makes the key ideas of philosophy of social science accessible to students, teachers and the community of social and cultural researchers, done in a way that is unequalled by any other text that I know. The book is a breathtaking combination of scholarship, comprehensive knowledge of the field and clear, reader-friendly explanation' - Clive Seale, Goldsmiths College

`This is an outstanding textbook, which I am sure will be widely used on courses worldwide at a number of different levels. It should also be of interest to specialists in the philosophy of social science, who will admire its outstanding presentation and lively illustrations' - William Outhwaite, University of Sussex

`A comprehensive and well-written overview of debates and issues in interdisciplinary social science research that will find a secure place in the undergraduate curriculum. It is the kind of book that can be recommended to students as a suitable basis for self-directed learning, as it is full of useful summaries, schemes and source materials' - John Scott, University of Essex

`Social Science in Question provides a very sophisticated examination of fundamental and highly disputed issues in the philosophy of the social sciences. It is probably the most comprehensive treatment of these issues presently available. Written in The Open University format, with a set of brief readings accompanying each chapter, the reader is taken on a journey from positivism to postmodernism. Mark Smith's book sets a new benchmark' - Norman Blaikie, Universiti Sains Malaysia

`Problems and issues in the philosophy of the social sciences are always fascinating, often complex and sometimes intractable. Postgraduates have to learn how to deal with them one way or another; discussion must enable, not disable. How to draw students into discussion, not put them off, that is the question. Invite them to read Mark Smith, that is the solution' - C G A Bryant, University of Salford

Smith succeeds in making accessible what can be difficult and abstract material. The book is richly illustrated with diagrams, key readings, photographs, images and exercises which all enable the reader to stop and engage with the material just presented.

SOCIAL SCIENCES, Nottingham Trent University
May 24, 2013

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