Salsa Dancing Into the Social Sciences

The author is Kristin Luker and the subtitle is Research in an Age of Info-Glut.  I enjoyed this book very much and I thought it was one of the best books on the philosophy of the social sciences I have read, ever.  In part it is good because it ignores philosophy of science (and Continental philosophy gobbledy-gook) and focuses on the anthropology of how research is actually done.  Here is the author's summary of her message

Let's review the state of play.  I've told you that "methods" in the social sciences are historically, socially, and politically located in both time and place.  I've also told you that the methods most commonly taught (canonical social science, "normal science") grew out of a particular time and place, namely postwar America.  I've tried to convince you that in this new postmodern, globalizing world, those old methods don't work as well as they used to, at least not for the kinds of problems that most of us are interested in these days.  Finally, I have argued that a whole set of "practices," that is, taken-for-granted ways of doing things that aren't even at the level of consciousness most of the time, grew out of those old methods and now must be rethought by those of us whose contributions will consist of making connections across boundaries, rather than following the normal-science way of making incremental contributions to a deep but narrow part of our fold.

There's much more to the book than that quotation indicates.  Recommended.


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