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Methodological Misconceptions in the Social Sciences. Rethinking social thought and social processes

Fusari, Angelo (2013): Methodological Misconceptions in the Social Sciences. Rethinking social thought and social processes. Published in: (2014): pp. 1-64.

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Abstract

Contemporary social teaching suffers from a grave deficiency: it is lacking rules of methodology and procedure suited to social reality that are, in particular, able to reconcile increasing creativity (implying irreversibility) with rationality, which are indispensable for the scientific judgement of theoretical ideas. Unfortunately, this lack is largely ignored, and eminent social scholars have even explicitly and emphatically theorized a rejection of method. This allows rhetorical and literary skills to prevail over the reasons of science, thereby promoting a deceptive instead of constructive pluralism, confusion in the study of contemporary societies and growing ineptitude in their government, what represents a main source of afflictions in the present world. Method is a two-edged sword: it offers powerful assistance in and enhances our capability of understanding and solving the problems of everyday life; but if the chosen method is inappropriate,it can seriously obstruct the advancement of knowledge. Significantly, the best contributions to social knowledge have been ad hoc studies that disregard method and simply apply common sense. But ad hoc studies suffer a lack of coordination, and the neglect of method makes it difficult to evaluate and select findings and results. As a consequence, ad hoc analyses have little chance of stimulating the cumulative growth of knowledge. However, the present study is intended as a contribution that prevents method from becoming a prison for the mind as opposed to a stimulant of creativity and knowledge.

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