The Social Science Encyclopedia - Vol. 1

The Social Science Encyclopedia - Vol. 1

The Social Science Encyclopedia - Vol. 1

The Social Science Encyclopedia - Vol. 1

Synopsis

This reference has been written by an international team of contributors presenting a global understanding of the key issues within social sciences. A board of advisory editors has worked closely with the editors in determining the most important concepts, thinkers and techniques in each field.

Excerpt

This is the third edition of The Social Science Encyclopedia. The first edition was published in 1985. The second edition, substantially revised and updated, appeared in 1996. As editors we have benefited from the opinions of reviewers and readers, from the expert advice of three successive international panels of advisory editors, and from the suggestions of many of our contributors, and in the two decades since its launch the Encyclopedia has established a reputation for providing authoritative, accessible and up-to-date coverage of the social sciences, in a convenient format. We would like to think that this third edition is an advance on its predecessors, but our aim remains unchanged. We have done our best to orchestrate a reliable, intelligent and interesting review of the whole gamut of ideas and findings on the individual and society that have emerged from more than a century of academic research and debate.

Each edition has drawn on hundreds of experts from many countries, representing a variety of intellectual traditions, academic specialities and points of view. Together they have contributed between 400 and 500 entries. These range from extended reviews of an entire discipline or a major research topic through a large number of concise presentations of central concepts, subfields and key biographies to relatively brief essays on specialist issues. For this edition we have generally opted to commission longer entries, covering more ground, but there are still around 500 items. Half the entries were completely recast for the second edition, or were commissioned specially for it, and the rest were revised. Over half the entries commissioned for this edition are, once again, entirely or substantially new, often on topics not covered before. Most of the remainder have been revised and brought up to date.

The second edition covered fresh debates and fields of enquiry that had emerged in the previous decade. This third edition again introduces new theoretical and topical material to reflect the state of affairs in the social sciences in the early twenty-first century. The current edition pays more attention to evolutionary thinking in the social sciences, which has influenced all fields in the past decade. Other trends are also apparent, across disciplines and influencing a variety of research programmes. Rational choice approaches and game theory have migrated from economics into political science and sociology. At the same time, economists are drawing on psychological theories to explain failures of rationality, and to gain insights into how people act when they have to make choices but lack vital pieces of information. The human rights discourse has become central to political theory, law and international relations (which is covered more fully in this edition than previously). New developments in the study of cognition and the brain now dominate many fields of psychology, and influence linguistics and anthropology. Advances in genetics have inspired fresh approaches to classic issues in psychology, provided social scientists with new models of communication and change, and provoked critical accounts of how and why genetic models have been popularized and applied to social questions. Culture theory has become an established point of reference for many social sciences, as has poststructuralism, which draws on literary theory. Both now provoke similar debates in several disciplines. The preoccupations of gender studies have been assimilated into many debates and fields of study. In the process, gender studies itself has become broader and more eclectic.

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