W. G. Runciman

in British Sociology Seen from Without and Within

Published by British Academy

Published in print November 2005 | ISBN: 9780197263426
Published online February 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191734298 | DOI:

Series: British Academy Occasional Papers


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For many years, sociology in Britain has been pulled in two opposite directions, by those on the one side who want to make it into a branch of science and those on the other side who want to make it into a branch of literature. There is another two-way pull to which British sociology has been, and continues to be, subjected. This is the vertical pull exerted in one direction by those who want to give sociology its autonomy by taking it up into an intellectual space of its own where the irreducibly ‘social’ is safely detached from psychology (let alone biology) and in the other direction by those who think that sociology can be fully established only if it is firmly grounded in psychology or biology (or preferably both). Despite all these disagreements and tensions, British sociology as a recognized academic discipline does not appear to be at serious risk of being undermined by irreconcilable differences of principle or purpose.

Keywords: Britain; sociology; psychology; biology; science; literature

Chapter.  3484 words. 

Subjects: Social Research and Statistics

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