The methodological foundations of applied social science

David Byrne

in Applying social science

Published by Policy Press

Published in print February 2011 | ISBN: 9781847424518
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781447301486 | DOI:
The methodological foundations of applied social science

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This chapter addresses ‘the methodological foundations of applied social science’. It begins with a critique of existing meta-theoretical positions through a consideration of the implications of understanding social research practice as necessarily post-positivist, focusing in particular on the implications of realism for applied social research. It develops an account of ‘complex realism’ based on the implications of understanding the social world as composed of complex open systems. The chapter deals in summary with two opposing methodological positions which have had considerable influence in relation to formal discussions of the methodological foundations of social research. It reviews the arguments about quantity versus quality: asserts that the methodological disputes between quantitative and qualitative modes of social inquiry are always fatuous. It turns to issues surrounding knowing and acting — the content of the Greek term ‘praxis’ which is the foundation of all conceptions of critical social science, particularly but by no means exclusively as informed by the thinking of Marx.

Keywords: methodological foundations; applied social science; complex realism; quantity versus quality; praxis; Marx

Chapter.  8712 words. 

Subjects: Social Research and Statistics

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