Social science and social practice

Inquiry 26 (1):107 – 124 (1983)
Abstract
Science breaks new trails for technology but social science has yet to break new trails for social technology. Why is this? One hypothesis explains this with reference to the complexity of the social world and the still rudimentary nature of the social sciences. This paper argues for an alternative hypothesis, claiming that social science research is incapable of generating technologies not already part of the human repertoire. Drawing on a range of social science inquiry from economics to psychology, it shows that the ?mechanisms? posited to explain normal and puzzling human behavior depend on familiar facts about humans which future investigations cannot overturn. Finally, it is shown that even when these familiar facts are themselves explained, the generative mechanisms posited to account for them are no longer within the sphere of the social sciences
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