Research Strategies in the Social Sciences: A Guide to New Approaches

Research Strategies in the Social Sciences: A Guide to New Approaches

Research Strategies in the Social Sciences: A Guide to New Approaches

Research Strategies in the Social Sciences: A Guide to New Approaches

Synopsis

In this single, accessible volume, a team of international experts sets out a range of analytic tools available to social scientists from the cutting edge of social science methodolgy. In contrast to much of the existing literature, which is often of daunting complexity, this volume presents social scientists with some experience with a guide through the maze of advanced techniques applicable across the range of the social sciences. The first chapters outline ways in which the revolution in computing power is transforming the working environment for social scientists, extending their analytic reach, and opening up new research horizons. The empirical chapters each present a particular approach to data analysis, discussing the underlying logic and demonstrating its application by working through a substantive example - with mathematical reasoning kept to a minimum. The theoretical chapters provide an introduction to recently developing approaches to social science research. Each chapter includes ample references to other works in the field, and to appropriate software programs, for those who are keen to pursue a particular approach in greater detail.

Excerpt

This volume originates in the teaching programme of the Essex Summer School in Data Analysis and Collection, which celebrated its thirtieth year in 1997. The book, with its useful practical aims, didactic and functional, but incorporating broader philosophical and epistemological concerns, is a fitting celebration of the anniversary. The Summer School has always aimed at mediating between social scientists with concrete, substantive objectives and the ever more complicated procedures and techniques which are becoming the tools of their trade.

In the course of offering annual instruction in current techniques of quantitative analysis, the Summer School has, of course, performed many other functions. Beginning in 1968 when social science in Europe was weak and struggling--indeed, barely conscious of itself as a distinctive entity--the Essex Summer School has brought together each generation of social scientists. At first, participants were largely drawn from across Western Europe, but now, increasingly, they come from all parts of Europe and other parts of the world.

The contacts formed at an early age between people of very different backgrounds and nationality have blossomed into networks of teaching and research across the European continent. The Summer School antedated the European Consortium for Political Research, the most active European social science organization, by two years. The success of the Summer School provided a practical demonstration of the feasibility of trans-European cooperation in social science, which induced the Ford Foundation to support the ECPR in the first place. It is no exaggeration, therefore, to say that European social science found its first institutional embodiment in the Summer School. It has remained its mould and matrix ever since.

If the Essex Summer School crucially shaped social science in Europe, it took its form from an American exemplar, the Michigan Summer School of the Inter-University Consortium for Political Research. Michigan provided not only the initial model but also an inspirational instructor, Lutz Erbring, who taught most of the courses in the early years, from 1968 to 1970, of the Essex Summer School. He also operationalized the first suite of analytic programmes for the social sciences on the Essex University computer.

The Essex Summer School continues to operate in tandem with the Summer School at Ann Arbor, but now on a more equal footing. Along with Michigan, Essex has become one of the two leading international schools in . . .

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