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

By Donatella della Porta, Michael Keating

A progressive new textbook introducing masters and doctoral scholars to the key examine techniques and methodologies within the social sciences. Written by means of a superb set of students, and derived from winning direction instructing, this quantity will empower scholars to decide on their very own method of study, 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 method and learn layout crucial for generating an outstanding study concept. It additionally introduces researchers to the most problems with debate and competition within the technique of social sciences, deciding upon commonalities, ancient continuities and actual changes.

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

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Cases themselves are not given by the world, but are themselves the product of theory and conceptualization – as when we ask what something is a case of, set the boundaries of the case or use conceptual tools to understand it. Case studies may be undertaken through process tracing, otherwise known as analytic narrative, which links the events to explain the outcome. Importantly, Vennesson notes that this can be done within either a positivist or an interpretivist framework. A positivist would identify variables as causal mechanisms, to fill in the void (the ‘black box’) left when general effects are imputed to general causes.

This school casts doubts on the epistemological constants of much social science, which it sees as unduly influenced by modernist assumptions about order, causation and progress (themselves in turn derived from nineteenth-century natural science). Interpretation works at two levels. The world can be understood not as an objective reality, but as a series of interpretations that people within society give of their position; the social scientist, in turn, interprets these interpretations. In a further reflexive turn, social scientists’ interpretations feed back to the people through literature and media, influencing them yet again in what Giddens (1976) calls the ‘double hermeneutic’.

Second, the case is studied in detail, often by a long period of immersion, bearing in mind the risk of the researcher him/herself becoming part of the situation under study. Third, ethnographic writing involves note-taking and analytical writing of the final report. Methods include participant observation, interviewing and recording in the form of oral records or notes. This 15 Introduction approach is thus distinct from that of positivist and variable-based social science. It looks at whole cases, and it stresses depth (understanding a lot about one case) over breadth (understanding a little about many cases).

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