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Methods of social study

Webb, Sidney and Webb, Beatrice (1932) Methods of social study. Longmans, London.

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In this short book we have done little more than give in detail the methods of investigation used by us in our successive studies of British Trade Unionism, Consumers' Co-operation, and Local Government. It is true that, in our first chapter and in the last, we have attempted to define the scope and necessary limitations of the science of society. But these pages do not claim to be anything of the nature of a treatise on methodology, or even on the place of social science or sociology in the classification of the sciences. They merely explain our own approach to an understanding of the department of sociology dealing with the upgrowth, the modification and the dwindling, sometimes even to insignificance—of particular kinds of social institutions. Hence the reader must not look for any discussion of the relation of political science to ethics, or whether or not there can usefully be a "pure" science of economics, proceeding by logical deduction from theoretical assumptions or postulates as to the universality or predominance of particular human motives—such, for instance, as the pecuniary self-interest of freely competing wealth producers, on the one hand, or, on the other, the class antagonisms of profit-making capitalists and proletarian wage-earners. Moreover, in the department on which our studies have been concentrated, we have been unable, through lack of qualification, to use, and perhaps even adequately to appreciate, the Statistical Method. Our speciality has been a comparative study of the working of particular social institutions in a single country, made by observation and analysis, through personal participation or watching the organisation at work, the taking of evidence from other persons, the scrutiny of all accessible documents, and the consultation of general literature. If students and investigators find the volume helpful, our aim will have been attained. Any of them wishing further explanations are invited to communicate with one or other of us. - Preface.

Item Type: Book
Additional Information: The full text is available at the link. Hardcopies are available at the Main and Women's Library collections at the LSE Library.
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Date Deposited: 20 May 2012 10:50
Last Modified: 05 Mar 2018 16:49

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