Unthinking Social Science

Unthinking Social Science : The Limits of Nineteenth-century Paradigms

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In this work, Immanuel Wallerstein develops a critique of the legacy of 19th-century social science for social thought in the late 20th century. He argues that the presumptions which provide the foundation of dominant research today need "unthinking" and should be revised or even discarded. Once considered liberating, these notions have become a barrier to clear understanding of the social world in current times. Applying these ideas to a variety of theoretical ares and historical problems, Wallerstein also offers a critical discussion of some of the key figures whose ideas have influenced the position he formulates, including Marx and Braudel. In the concluding sections of the book, Wallerstein demonstrates how these insights may lead to a revision of world-systems analysis.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 288 pages
  • 152 x 228 x 18mm | 439.98g
  • Polity Press
  • Oxford, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 0745609112
  • 9780745609119

Table of contents

Introduction: Why unthink? Part 1 The social sciences - from genesis to bifurcation: the French Revolution as a world-historical event; crisis - the world-economy, the movements and the ideologies. Part 2 The concept of development: the Industrial Revolution - cui bono?; economic theories and historical disparities of development; societal development or development of the world-system?; the Myrdal legacy - racism and underdevelopment as dilemmas; development - lodestar or illusion? Part 3 Concepts of time and space: a comment on epistemology - what is Africa?; does India exist?; the inventions of timespace realities. Part 4 Revisiting Marx: Marx and underdevelopment; Marxisms as utopias - evolving ideologies. Part 5 Revisiting Braudel: Fernand Braudel, historian, "homme de la conjoncture"; capitalism - the enemy of the market?; Braudel on capitalism, or everything upside down; beyond "annales"? Part 6 World-systems analysis as unthinking: historical systems as complex systems; call for a debate about the paradigm; a theory of economic history in place of economic history?; world-systems analysis - the second phase.
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Review quote

"the essays in this book provide a good basis for reflecting not only on nineteenth-century paradigms, but also on the world-systems perspective itself." The Journal of Development Studies . "his ideas are stimulating and provoking, even if many will want to challenge him." Political Studies . "Stimulating and provoking," Political Studies .
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About Immanuel Wallerstein

Immanuel Wallerstein has previously held academic posts at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales as well as both McGill and Columbia Universities. He is a member of numerous research councils and associations and has been awarded a variety of special fellowships and honours.
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Rating details

36 ratings
4.02 out of 5 stars
5 36% (13)
4 36% (13)
3 22% (8)
2 6% (2)
1 0% (0)
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