Sociology as a Population Science

Sociology as a Population Science

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John Goldthorpe is one of Britain's most eminent sociologists and a strong advocate of quantitative sociology. In this concise and accessible book, he provides a new rationale for recent developments in sociology which focus on establishing and explaining probabilistic regularities in human populations. Through these developments, Goldthorpe shows how sociology has become more securely placed within the 'probabilistic revolution' that has occurred over the last century in the natural and social sciences alike. The central arguments of the book are illustrated with examples from different areas of sociology, ranging from social stratification and the sociology of the family to the sociology of revolutions. He concludes by considering the implications of these arguments for the proper boundaries of sociology, for its relations with other disciplines, and for its public role.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 175 pages
  • 152 x 228 x 11mm | 280g
  • Cambridge, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 1107567319
  • 9781107567313
  • 712,336

Review quote

'In this book, Goldthorpe provides an elegant discussion on the fundamental tenets of sociology as a population science. Based on nine propositions, he explains what sociology is and is not, and defines its logic as a population science, where traditional disciplinary boundaries between sociology and demography, epidemiology and applied economics blur. Sociology as a Population Science should be read by all sociologists engaged in theoretically driven empirical research. Many will find a solid rationale for the type of sociology that they, in fact, already do and stronger and clearer conceptual bases to pursue their research further on. A precious book.' Fabrizio Bernardi, European University Institute, and Chair, Board of the European Consortium for Sociological Research 'Goldthorpe's foundational efforts in defending a scientific approach to social science find a lucid and visionary synthesis in this volume. He sets a realistic agenda, from the need to establish empirical regularities on populations to modes of explanation. A must-read for all social scientists.' Francesco Billari, University of Oxford 'Sociology as a Population Science is a timely and very important book for PhD students, advanced researchers in the social sciences and professional sociologists. It makes clear that sociologists need to both establish probabilistic regularities in the aggregates of individuals (or populations) and trace the mechanisms at the individual level that actually produce these regularities. Statistical methodology by itself cannot achieve the provision of causal explanations of regularities, and causal mechanisms are particularly powerful for sociology as an academic discipline if they are related to significant patterns in the population.' Hans-Peter Blossfeld, European University Institute, Italy 'John Goldthorpe has written a remarkable book full of deep insights. It is a must-read for anyone who wishes to understand what sociological research is really about.' Yu Xie, Bert G. Kerstetter '66 University Professor of Sociology, Princeton University 'John H. Goldthorpe, best known for his research on social stratification and mobility, has also written incisively about the discipline of sociology for 20 years or more. Sociology as a Population Science is an important, mostly positive, and programmatic addition to that body of work.' Michael Hout, American Journal of Sociology
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Table of contents

Introduction; 1. Sociology as a population science: the central idea; 2. Individual variability in human social life; 3. The individualistic paradigm; 4. Population regularities as basic explananda; 5. Statistics, concepts and the objects of sociological study; 6. Statistics and methods of data collection; 7. Statistics and methods of data analysis; 8. The limits of statistics: causal explanation; 9. Causal explanation through social mechanisms; Conclusion.
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About John H. Goldthorpe

John H. Goldthorpe is Emeritus Fellow of Nuffield College, University of Oxford.
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