The Politics of Method in the Human Sciences

9780822335061: Hardback
Release Date: 16th May 2005

9780822335184: Paperback
Release Date: 16th May 2005

1 table

Dimensions: 152 x 235

Number of Pages: 632

Series Politics, History, and Culture

Duke University Press Books

The Politics of Method in the Human Sciences

Positivism and Its Epistemological Others

Hardback / £112.00
Paperback / £29.99

The Politics of Method in the Human Sciences provides a remarkable comparative assessment of the variations of positivism and alternative epistemologies in the contemporary human sciences. Often declared obsolete, positivism is alive and well in a number of the fields; in others, its influence is significantly diminished. The essays in this collection investigate its mutations in form and degree across the social science disciplines. Looking at methodological assumptions field by field, individual essays address anthropology, area studies, economics, history, the philosophy of science, political science and political theory, and sociology. Essayists trace disciplinary developments through the long twentieth century, focusing on the decades since World War II.

Contributors explore and contrast some of the major alternatives to positivist epistemologies, including Marxism, psychoanalysis, poststructuralism, narrative theory, and actor-network theory. Almost all the essays are written by well-known practitioners of the fields discussed. Some essayists approach positivism and anti-positivism via close readings of texts influential in their respective disciplines. Some engage in ethnographies of the present-day human sciences; others are more historical in method. All of them critique contemporary social scientific practice. Together, they trace a trajectory of thought and method running from the past through the present and pointing toward possible futures.

Contributors. Andrew Abbott, Daniel Breslau, Michael Burawoy, Andrew Collier , Michael Dutton, Geoff Eley, Anthony Elliott, Stephen Engelmann, Sandra Harding, Emily Hauptmann, Webb Keane, Tony Lawson, Sophia Mihic, Philip Mirowski, Timothy Mitchell, William H. Sewell Jr., Margaret R. Somers, George Steinmetz, Elizabeth Wingrove

Acknowledgments ix
Introduction: Positivism and Its Others in the Social Sciences / George Steinmetz 1
Part One. Positivism and Nonpositivism in Twentieth-Century Social Science Anthropology
Estrangement, Intimacy, and the Objects of Anthropology / Webb Keane 59
Area Studies/Asian Studies
The Trick of Words: Asian Studies, Translation, and the Problems of Knowledge / Michael Dutton 89
Economists and the Economy in the Twentieth Century / Timothy Mitchell 126
Economics/Philosophy of Science
How Positivism Made a Pact with the Postwar Social Sciences in the United States / Philip Mirowski 142
The Political Unconscious of Social and Cultural History, or, Confessions of a Former Quantitative Historian / William H. Sewell Jr. 173
Political Science/Political Theory
Defining “Theory” in Postwar Political Science / Emily Hauptmann 207
Sociology and Economics
Beware Trojan Horses Bearing Social Capital: How Privatization Turned Solidarity into a Bowling Team / Margaret R. Somers 233
Scientific Authority and the Transition to Post-Fordism: The Plausibility of Positivism in U. S. Sociology since 1945 / George Steinmetz 275
Part Two. Alternatives to Positivism in the Human Sciences
Philosophy and Critical Realism
Critical Realism / Andrew Collier 327
Philosophy and Standpoint Theory
Negotiating with a Positivist Legacy: New Social Justice Movements and a Standpoint Politics of Method / Sandra Harding 346
Economics and Critical Realism
A Perspective on Modern Economics / Tony Lawson 366
Process and Temporality in Sociology
The Idea of Outcome in U. S. Sociology / Andrew Abbott 393
Psychoanalysis as Critique
Psychoanalysis and the Theory of the Subject / Anthony Elliott 427
Sociology of Science
The Real and the Imaginary in Economic Methodology / Daniel Breslau 451
Making Sense In and Of Political Science
Facts, Values, and “Real” Numbers / Sophia Mihic, Stephen G. Engelmann, and Elizabeth Rose Wingrove 470
Being Undisciplined
On Your Marx: From Cultural History to the History of Society / Geoff Eley 496
Conclusion: Provincializing the Social Sciences / Michael Burawoy 508
References 527
Contributors 583
Index 587
Citation Index 607

George Steinmetz is Professor of Sociology and German Studies at the University of Michigan. He is the author of Regulating the Social: The Welfare State and Local Politics in Imperial Germany and The Devil’s Handwriting: Ethnographic Discourse and “Native Policy” in the German Overseas Empire (Southwest Africa, Samoa, and Quingdao/China) (forthcoming) and the editor of State/Culture: State-Formation after the Cultural Turn.

“By contrasting the diverse trajectories and strategies of positivist method within each discipline, The Politics of Method in the Human Sciences develops a comparative perspective which has been lacking in virtually all prior treatments of positivism in social science. The contrasts in the form and prestige that positivist method assumed in each discipline are striking.”—Craig Calhoun, President of the Social Science Research Council

“George Steinmetz and his colleagues present provocative perspectives on the politics of knowledge in the human sciences. Magisterial overviews jostle with unsettling manifestos in this comprehensive and challenging collection. The Politics of Method in the Human Sciences is a necessary prolegomenon to any future epistemological debate.” —John Lie, Class of 1959 Professor and Dean of International and Area Studies, University of California, Berkeley