Methodology in Social Research: Dilemmas and Perspectives: Essays in Honour of Ramkrishna Mukherjee. (Book Reviews: Method)
Ortlieb, Martin, Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute
MUKHERJI, PARTHA NATH (ed.). Methodology in social research: dilemmas and perspectives: essays in honour of Ramkrishna Mukherjee. 263 pp., diagr., illus. London, New Delhi: Sage Publications, 2000. [pounds sterling]27.50 (cloth)
The man in whose honour this book has been compiled defines 'methodology as the science for the application of theoretical propositions for understanding and finding causality in social reality' (p. 240).This statement, however, is little more than an interview answer. It also illustrates the goals of the volume. Not that all the contributions are written to this dictate -- far from it. The citation acts as blueprint for the editorship. There are four sections to the book: the first introduces Mukherjee, his field, and his goals; the second focuses on the theoretical propositions concerning methodology; the third is concerned with their 'enactments' when carrying out research; and the final part consists of txvo interviews with the man himself.
The laudatory aspect of the publication is very evident, so much so that the contributions seem almost a subordinate category. I do not wish to reduce the achievements of Ramkrishna Mukherjee's impressive career, but, through the editorship, the nine contributions take a modest place.
The enormous introduction of 87 pages adds to this distraction from the title topic by its sheer size and scope. While it starts with methodological issues per se, the reader is left rather confused about its aim at the end. The gradual shift to the applications of theory and methods in a specific setting, namely India, provides a strange ending to an introduction that sets out with a description of the overall development of the philosophical and theoretical thought about methodology.
Let me turn briefly to the contributions. The essays do not disappoint expectations, yet neither do they seem particularly innovative. None gripped me as an extension to current thinking. The first section 'address[es] methodology from the perspective of philosophy of science and history' (p. 60). …