Approaches to Social Enquiry
OverviewApproaches to Social Enquiry is a new textbook of research methods. The book provides students of the social sciences with a much needed critical review of major ways in which social research can be conducted and also a methodological framework to assist social researchers in making informed decisions about the design and execution of their research. It draws together a vast body of literature, from the philosophy of science, the philosophy of social science, social theory and research methodology, by focusing on the fundamental questions: 'What kind of science is social science?', and 'Can the methods of the natural sciences be used in the social sciences?'. Six classical and five contemporary answers to this second question are reviewed and evaluated, producing seven distinctive approaches to social enquiry - positivism, critical rationalism, interpretism, critical theory, realism, structuration theory and feminism. These are consolidated into four basic research strategies which are discussed in detail - induction, deduction, retroduction and abduction. A range of methodological issues revealed in these approaches and strategies are explored to identify the fundamental ontological and epistemological choices that need to be made by all social researchers. Approaches to Social Enquiry provides practitioners with a critical review of this extensive literature and its relevance for the conduct of social research.
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