Chapter

Two Methods in Search of Revolution

Michael Burawoy

in The Extended Case Method

Published by University of California Press

Published in print May 2009 | ISBN: 9780520259003
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520943384 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520259003.003.0004
Two Methods in Search of Revolution

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Sociology has founded its scientific credentials on imitating the method of the physical sciences as understood by philosophers. Regulative principles such as Mill's “canons of induction,” Hempel's “deductive-nomological explanation,” or Popper's falsificationism are laid down as the scientific method. However, these principles evolved more from philosophical speculation than from a careful empirical examination of the “hard sciences” from which they derived their legitimacy. Indeed, when philosophers turned to history and the actual practice of science, they found their principles violated. New understandings of science emerged, motivated less by the search for a single abstract universal method and more by the need to explain the growth of scientific knowledge. This chapter explores the implications for sociology of adopting one of these historically rooted conceptions of science, namely, the methodology of scientific research programs proposed by Imre Lakatos, by comparing it with the standard methodology of induction.

Keywords: sociology; scientific research programs; Imre Lakatos; induction

Chapter.  14919 words. 

Subjects: Social Research and Statistics

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