The trouble with social science

Critical Review 17 (1-2):101-116 (2005)
Abstract Some of the most celebrated theories of nationalism exemplify the self?confirming, evidence?averse, deterministic, and ideological aspects of social science as we know it. What has gone wrong? The social sciences have modeled themselves on physics, failing to grasp the essential difference between the contingent, historical development of cultural particularity and the universal, law?like regularities of inanimate matter. The physicist's tools for conducting the method Popper called ?conjecture and refutation? are largely inappropriate when dealing with imaginative and therefore unpredictable human beings. Obsessive quantification and the assumption of universal ?social? laws, in particular, need to be de?emphasized in favor of a Weberian willingness to make conjectures about the causes of unique events, and to test those hypotheses by comparing them to apparently similar cases.
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DOI 10.1080/08913810508443630
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Ernest Gellner (1981). Nationalism. Theory and Society 10 (6):753-776.

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