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Effective Social Science

Effective Social Science: Eight Cases in Economics, Political Science, and Sociology

Copyright Date: 1987
Published by: Russell Sage Foundation
Pages: 216
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  • Book Info
    Effective Social Science
    Book Description:

    Does social science influence social policy? This is a topic of perennial concern among students of politics, the economy, and other social institutions. InEffective Social Science, eight prominent social researchers offer first-hand descriptions of the impact of their work on government and corporate policy.

    In their own words, these noted political scientists, economists, and sociologists-among them such influential scholars as James Coleman, Joseph Pechman, and Eliz Ginzberg-tell us what it was like to become involved in the making of social policy. These rich personal narratives, derived from detailed interviews conducted by Bernard Barber (himself a veteran of the biomedical poliy arena), illuminate the role of social science in diverse areas, including school desegregation, comprehensive income taxation, military manpower utilization, transportation deregulation, and the protection of privacy.

    The patterns traced in this volume indicate that social science can influence policy, but only as part of a pluralistic,politicalprocess; effective social research requires advocacy as well as a conducive social and idealogical climate. For anyone curious about the relationship between social knowledge and social action, this book provides striking illustration and fruitful analysis.

    eISBN: 978-1-61044-024-0
    Subjects: Sociology, Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Acknowledgment
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Chapter One Problem, Purpose, Plan
    (pp. 1-26)

    The effectiveness of social science knowledge—that is, the questions ofwhetherit is useful or not andhowit may be useful for social action and social policy—has been of perennial and widespread concern among social thinkers and social scientists. This concern goes back to the origins of systematic social knowledge among the Greek philosophers, continues through the preprofessional and prototypical modes of social thought of early modern times, and increases greatly as something called social science emerges and becomes institutionalized and professionalized. As the social sciences claim a place in the university, government, and business worlds of...

  5. Chapter Two Educational Policy for Youth and High Schools
    (pp. 27-44)
    James Coleman

    I was trained in sociology at Columbia in the 1950s. My teachers were an extraordinary set of people. Three were most important: Paul Lazarsfeld, Robert Merton, and S. M. (Marty) Lipset, who was then an assistant professor. He had himself been trained at Columbia. I worked most closely with Marty on the ITU (International Typographical Union) study (Union Democracy, by Lipset, Martin Trow, and Coleman). Next most closely I worked with Lazarsfeld, especially on his work on panel studies and other methodological issues. I also worked with Bob Merton, but in a less intense way. For example, I took notes...

  6. Chapter Three Manpower and Human Resources Policy
    (pp. 45-64)
    Eli Ginzberg

    Although I have always identified myself, and been identified by others, as an economist, I have always had broader intellectual interests and broader social and political perspectives. Of course, when I was starting out in economics in the late twenties and early thirties, it was a much smaller, less specialized, less quantitative discipline than it has since become. But other factors contribute to my broad interests and background. There was, first, my family. My father was a scholar of Judaica, a professor of international repute, one of the fifty world scholars from all fields who received an honorary doctorate in...

  7. Chapter Four Military Institutions, the Draft, and the Volunteer Army
    (pp. 65-76)
    Morris Janowitz

    A lot of the influences on my professional formation and aspirations as a sociologist go back before I had any formal training in the field. In fact, I was a kind of working sociologist before I even began graduate work in sociology at the University of Chicago after the Second World War. The earliest influence came from my family, especially from my mother. My parents were émigrés, my father from Poland and my mother from Russia. My mother had left Russia in 1905 but kept up her interest and concern with what was going on there, as did many of...

  8. Chapter Five Comprehensive Income Taxation
    (pp. 77-92)
    Joseph A. Pechman

    I was an undergraduate in City College, New York, in the 1930s; I came from a poor family and was very much a child of the Depression. At City College I was a member of the group of students who were interested in social problems and argued about democracy, socialism, and communism. Many of those people later became academics and intellectuals; some of them, but not I, have become neoconservatives. At City College I was trained in mathematics and statistics. I worked for the WPA as a statistician and was attracted to the study of economics partly because of my...

  9. Chapter Six Deregulation of the Transportation Industry
    (pp. 93-106)
    Merton J. Peck

    I went to Oberlin College where I was much taken by one professor, Ben Lewis, who was very much interested in government regulation and antitrust policy. Oberlin in my day, at the end of the 1940s, was a small college with a strong tradition of sending its students on to take Ph.D.s in leading universities. That was not a common pattern in other colleges at that time. I had started out wanting to be a lawyer, but Lewis encouraged me to get a Ph.D. in economics. My ideal was to teach in a small college like Oberlin.

    I went to...

  10. Chapter Seven Unemployment Insurance Payments and Recidivism Among Released Prisoners
    (pp. 107-124)
    Peter Rossi

    I really began by being interested in applied work. As an undergraduate I wanted to become a social worker, and it may be that I finally didn’t get into that field because so many other opportunities opened up after World War II. I got into graduate school to study sociology, thinking that I’d take at least an M.A. and see how it would go. I went to Columbia mainly because that was the only place that would admit me, given my undergraduate record. Those were the days, just after World War II, when it was said that, at Columbia, sociological...

  11. Chapter Eight The Protection of Privacy in the Public and Private Sectors
    (pp. 125-152)
    Alan F. Westin

    My interest in political science began very early. As an undergraduate at the University of Florida, I came under the influence of two excellent political Scientists, William G. Carlton and Manning Dauer. Their approach to American politics was institutionalist and theoretical. I was only 18 when I graduated from college, and went directly to the Harvard Law School. There I decided very early that I wanted to be a scholar in law and politics rather than a practicing attorney, but that was not quite to be what happened. I became both a scholar and a policy advocate. At Harvard my...

  12. Chapter Nine Patterns and Conclusions
    (pp. 153-176)

    Having experienced the rich diversity and concreteness of the seven cases (or eight, if we include the prototype case in the appendix), readers may well initially feel that this diversity and concreteness transcends their capacity to fix the cases in some limited set of patterns. Although all the respondents were asked the same set of questions, they do come from different backgrounds, have different disciplinary perspectives, and speak in different “voices.” The readers, too, have come with different backgrounds and perspectives and will therefore find special interest in different parts of different cases. Some of these points of special interest...

  13. Appendix The Ethics of the Use of Human Subjects in Biomedical Research (The Prototype Case)
    (pp. 177-192)
    Bernard Barber
  14. Index
    (pp. 193-205)