Legitimating: the <i>selective</i> use of social science in justifying policy and practice

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:
Legitimating: the selective use of social science in justifying policy and practice

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This chapter examines the ‘legitimating’ process: that is to say the selective use of social science in justifying policy and practice. It focuses on the policies of evidence. It examines the political factors in the construction, publication and use of evidence generated by applied social science. It shows how political factors always enter into these processes and reviews the implications of this for applied social research in general. It notes that many, but not all, academics have ‘willingly’ entered into this process, sometimes in terms of ideological assertion (this is particularly true of economists), sometimes in relation to funding opportunities. It also notes that some civil servants, and in particular statisticians, have an honourable record in resisting the pressure for ‘good news and only good news’ and discusses how the examples of statistics commissions provide a basis for ‘honest’ applied social research.

Keywords: legitimating process; policy and practice; policies of evidence; applied social science; ideological assertion; statisticians

Chapter.  8169 words. 

Subjects: Social Research and Statistics

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