Science and Sociology is from beginning to end an exploration of what this implies for the social sciences, and sociology in particular. The authors argue that over the last several decades, sociology has become less a science and more a quest for isolated assessments of situations, whether they come from demographic analyses, survey research, or ethnographic studies. Above all else, this book is an attempt to promote and advance scientific sociology, and we write at length specifying the how and why of this objective. With this objective in mind, the question becomes: What would a scientific sociology look like?
What does a scientific sociology look like? What role does uncertainty play in the search for truth? Do the social sciences have something unique to teach us about science in general? More than a breath of fresh air, this book is a breath of life for a field that's been suffocating increasingly in the grip of special interests and identity politics. Ekland-Olson and Gibbs are at the top of their "game" (their term) here: in clear, precise, and cheerful manner they demonstrate what is called for in that highest and rarest act of predictive theory-building.
HC Hsu, PhD and Fellow, Europäische Universität für Interdisziplinäre Studien
Olsen’s and Gibb’s Science and Sociology promises to reinvigorate attention to classical issues in sociological theory and methods, including basic concepts. They begin with a discussion of the centrality of "assertions" to science and end with advocacy of "predictive power" as the criterion for defending theories. Olsen and Gibbs cover a multitude of definitions of science and convincingly defend their preferences. In addition, we are coached in the fundamentals of formal theory construction, including the works of a wide range of sociological scholars in the process. The work should generate lively discussions of sociological epistemology.
Gary F Jensen, Professor Emeritus of Sociology, Vanderbilt University
In an era when public trust of science has eroded, Ekland-Olson and Gibbs provide a much-needed renewal of the scientific foundations of sociology. They relish in the importance of uncertainty as the key ingredient in the scientific enterprise of sociology, and persuasively place theory testing at the heart of the advancement of scientific sociology. Their goal is to elevate sociology’s scientific status, and this book provides an essential roadmap for doing so.
David Kirk, Associate Professor of Sociology, Professorial Fellow of Nuffield College, University of Oxford
Chapter 1 Assertions: The Building Blocks of Science Chapter 2 On Predictive Implications Chapter 3 The Notion of Science: Complexities and Problems Chapter 4 A Conceptualization of Science Chapter 5 A Conceptualization of a Scientific Theory Chapter 6 Formal Theory Construction: Illustrations, Problems, and Issues Chapter 7 More on Issues and Problems Concerning Formal Theory Construction Chapter 8 Disastrous Beliefs in Sociology Chapter 9 The Quest for Uniformities and Propositions