In this one-of-a-kind user's manual for social theorists, Richard Swedberg explains how theorizing occurs in what he calls the context of discovery, a process in which the researcher gathers preliminary data and thinks creatively about it using tools such as metaphor, analogy, and typology. He guides readers through each step of the theorist’s art, from observation and naming to concept formation and explanation. To theorize well, you also need a sound knowledge of existing social theory. Swedberg introduces readers to the most important theories and concepts, and discusses how to go about mastering them. If you can think, you can also learn to theorize. This book shows you how.
Concise and accessible, The Art of Social Theory features helpful examples throughout, and also provides practical exercises that enable readers to learn through doing.
Through careful readings of Tocqueville's two major books and many of his other writings, Swedberg lays bare Tocqueville's ingenious way of thinking about major economic phenomena. At the center of Democracy in America, Tocqueville produced a magnificent analysis of the emerging entrepreneurial economy that he found during his 1831-32 visit to the United States. More than two decades later, in The Old Regime and the Revolution, Tocqueville made the complementary argument that it was France's blocked economy and society that led to the Revolution of 1789. In between the publication of these great works, Tocqueville also produced many lesser-known writings on such topics as property, consumption, and moral factors in economic life. When examined together, Swedberg argues, these books and other writings constitute an interesting alternative model of economic thinking, as well as a major contribution to political economy that deserves a place in contemporary discussions about the social effects of economics.
Richard Swedberg describes the field's critical insights into economic life, giving particular attention to the effects of culture on economic phenomena and the ways that economic actions are embedded in social structures. He examines the full range of economic institutions and explicates the relationship of the economy to politics, law, culture, and gender. Swedberg notes that sociologists too often fail to properly emphasize the role that self-interested behavior plays in economic decisions, while economists frequently underestimate the importance of social relations. Thus, he argues that the next major task for economic sociology is to develop a theoretical and empirical understanding of how interests and social relations work in combination to affect economic action. Written by an author whose name is synonymous with economic sociology, this text constitutes a sorely needed advanced synthesis--and a blueprint for the future of this burgeoning field.
It gives you the tools to:
- Design the right research question for your project
- Access, understand, and use existing data
- Effectively write up projects and assignments
- Be confident in the A to Z of the research process
Supported by an interactive website with videos, datasets, templates, and additional exercises, this book is the perfect hand-holder for any social science student starting a methods course or project.
As well as explaining how to conduct good surveys, de Vaus shows how to become a critical consumer of research. He argues that the logic of surveys and statistics is simply an extension of the logic we use in everyday life; analysis, however, requires creativity and imagination rather than the application of sterile mechanical procedures. The prime goal of research should be to gain accurate understanding and, as a researcher, use methods and techniques which enhance understanding. De Vaus advocates researchers use the method, rather than letting the method use you.
Surveys in Social Researchis essential reading for students and researchers working with surveys. It assumes no background in statistical analysis, and gives you the tools you need to come to grips with this often challenging field of work.