Methodology for the Social Sciences

15 Jan 2016 11:00

That is: what are the appropriate methods for studying social or cultural phenomena in a scientific way? In principle, this is a sub-division of general scientific methodology, but arguably (this is one of the big questions here!) social phenomena are sufficiently different from natural ones that they need truly distinctive methods. (Or perhaps social phenomena can be studied with the same methods as biological ones, but both are distinctive from inorganic nature.) It seems to be true that how one should study society depends on what society is like, i.e., general issues of social theory. But my hope is to learn something about methods which are relatively agnostic about social ontology, because they'd work even under very different assumptuions about the nature of society.

It's probably a bad thing that so many of my favorite works in this genre are relentlessly negative.

See also: Agent-Based Modeling; Archaeology; Economics; Historical Materialism; Historiography; Mechanistic Explanations; Network Data Analysis; Scientific Method and Philosophy of Science; Sociology; Statistics