2nd Edition

Method in Social Science Revised 2nd Edition

By Andrew Sayer Copyright 2010

    In its second edition, Method in Social Science was widely praised for its penetrating analysis of central questions in social science discourse. This revised edition comes with a new preface and a full bibliography. The book is intended for students and researchers familiar with social science but having little or no previous experiences of philosophical and methodological discussion, and for those who are interested in realism and method.

    Preface to the second edition.  Introduction.  1. Knowledge in context  2. Theory, observation and practical adequacy  3. Theory and method I: abstraction, structure and cause  4. Theory and method II: types of system and their implications  5. Some influential misadventures in the philosophy of science  6. Quantitative methods in social science  7. Verification and falsification  8. Popper's 'falsificationism'  9. Problems of explanation and the aims of social science.  Notes and references.  Bibliography.  Index


    Andrew Sayer is a Professor in the department of Sociology at the University of Lancaster. His research interests include social theory and political economy, and the philosophy of social research. Recent publications include The New Social Economy: Reworking the Division of Labor (Blackwell, 1992), Realism and Social Science (Sage, 2000), and The Moral Significance of Class (Cambridge University Press, 2005).

    Method in Social Science by Professor Andrew Sayer has been an essential guide on epistemology and methodology for 25 years - written not only for researchers and colleagues in the social sciences but also for students, providing a provocative and informed response to the essential issues raised by Popper, Kuhn and Lakatos. This revised second edition builds on previous editions that helped explain the intricacies of knowledge questions for two generations of social researchers.

    Sayer’s work has raised the bar by enabling researchers to think creatively about knowledge questions in the social sciences. Informed by critical realism, this book recognises the complexities for empirical and theoretical research practice and acknowledges the contributions of research from ethnography to quantitative analysis.

    Sayer’s voice has informed human geography, politics, statistics, social policy, economics, psychology and global studies as well as his more recent home in sociology. He is one of the most profound thinkers and researchers of our time – cogent, lucid and provocative on the key issues of our day. Anyone who has encountered Sayer’s writing will have revisited their arguments, use of evidence and looked for ways of integrating critical realist insights into their research even when opposed to the realist project.


    Mark Smith, Open University, UK