1st Edition

Models for Non-Modelers Understanding the Use of Models for Social Scientists and Others

By Göran Djurfeldt Copyright 2023
    126 Pages 42 Color Illustrations
    by Routledge

    126 Pages 42 Color Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Models for Non-Modelers focuses not on how to design models but on how to understand and critically appraise them. Data and statistical models are widely used in disciplines such as epidemiology, climate science and systems design, but it can be difficult for those without the necessary training to understand and implement them.

    This book is for non-modelers, especially social scientists. Through extensive examination of some common models both in visual and text form, this book shows these non-modellers how to understand the problems, both in the logic and implementation of such models. It includes in-depth worked examples and boxed text for more technical aspects. It does not require the reader to have in-depth mathematical knowledge. Also working through some common models in epidemiology and climate change scholarship, it examines AI and the problem of causality.

    This book will be suitable for graduate students and researchers in the social sciences who would like to learn more about how to assess models and the steps they need to take to apply them in their own research, as well as for those taking first courses in quantitative methods and statistical analysis for research data analysis.

    1. Limits to Growth: A Mother of all Models?  2. Epidemiological Models  3. Weather and Climate Models  4. Artificial Intelligence  5. Spatial Data and Models  6. Tragedy of the Commons  7. Conclusions: Whereto from Here?


    Göran Djurfeldt is Emeritus Professor, Department of Sociology, Lund University, Sweden. He has had a long career in sociology and development studies and a career-long interest in methodological issues. Djurfeldt has worked with all types of methods, such as historical studies and other qualitative methods, as well as field work in Scandinavia, in South Asia and in sub-Saharan Africa.

    "Models for Non-Modelers is a very timely and up-to-date comment on a central theme of scientific work, the use of models. It helps the interested reader to better understand important challenges of knowledge production in an era of critical debate regarding the concept of truth. Furthermore, to understand the research community’s strengths and limitations to produce new knowledge, which can be useful for handling complex environmental, economic and societal challenges like climate change and pandemics. It is highly recommended for a broad audience spanning from the interested public to students and researchers in development studies, environmental sciences, public health, and many other fields of science." -- Per-Olof Östergren, Professor in Social Medicine, Lund University, Sweden

    "This is a mind-opening critical, and pedagogical, scrutiny of scientific reasoning about the fateful issues of our time, from "Limits to Growth" to climate change and artificial intelligence." --Göran Therborn, Professor Emeritus of Sociology, University of Cambridge, UK

    "Models walk a fine balance between simplicity and complexity to make it possible for us to summarize, make sense of, and sometimes predict a complicated world. How to illuminate the importance of models for scientists’ work and its communication to the public? Göran Djurfeldt’s answer is to ’teach by illustration.’ Occam’s razor of parsimony guides the author both in his style of presentation and in his approach to models themselves. This book is enlivened by both subject-specific and mathematical nuance at key intersections." -- Christopher Swader, Associate Professor of Sociology, Lund University, Sweden