In the past it was generally taken for granted that the goal of social research was the production of objective knowledge; and that this required a commitment to value neutrality. In more recent times, however, both these ideals have come to be challenged, and it is often argued that all research is inevitably political in its assumptions and effects.
In this major contribution to the debate, Martyn Hammersley assesses the arguments from the classic and still influential contributions of C. Wright Mills, Howard Becker and Alvin Gouldner to the present day. He concludes that the case for partisanship is not convincing, and that an intelligent and sceptical commitment to the principles of objectivity and value neutrality must remain an essential feature of research.
Martin Hammersley is Professor in Educational and Social Research at the Open University