What is 'social' about social science?

Urry, John; Dingwall, Robert; Gough, Ian; Omerod, Paul; Massey, Doreen; Scott, John and Thrift, Nigel (2007). What is 'social' about social science? Twenty-First Century Society, 2(1) pp. 95–119.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/17450140601108924

Abstract

This is a report on an Academy of Social Sciences debate held on 15 March 2006. The debate concerned the nature, character and development of the social sciences. Four leading social scientists were asked to reflect upon the nature of the social sciences in the light of various transformations in both intellectual thought and in those processes that seem to be restructuring human life as we move into the 21st century. These changes in different ways seem to problematise the idea of what Bruno Latour refers to as a purified realm of social relations separate from other spheres and around which a social science(s) can be developed. Is there a distinct realm of the social and if there is what is it? What is the relationship between such a social realm and other domains? What does this imply for the kind of social science that might be undertaken? These questions were presented to the Academy debaters and all came up with interestingly different responses.

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