Sociology and Statistics in Britain, 1833–1979

Authors: Panayotova, Plamena

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  • Investigates how sociology in Britain has developed as a non-quantitative subject and why this matters from an historical point of view
  • Examines the history of sociology from a novel perspective; within the wider context of the development of modern science
  • Contributes to the building of a healthy tradition within British sociology of studying its own history
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  • ISBN 978-3-030-55133-9
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Hardcover £89.99
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About this book

At the beginning of the twentieth century, Britain stood at the forefront of science and statistics and had a long and respected tradition of social investigation and reform. But it still did not yet have a ‘science of society.’ When, in the early 1900s, a small band of enthusiasts got together to address this situation, the scene was set for a grand synthesis. No such synthesis ever took place and, instead, British sociology has followed a resolutely non-statistical path. Sociology and Statistics in Britain, 1833-1979 investigates how this curious situation came about and attempts to explain it from an historical perspective. It uncovers the prevalence of a deep and instinctive distrust within British sociology of the statistical methodology and mindset, resulting in a mix of quiet indifference and active hostility, which has persisted from its beginnings right up to the present day. While British sociology has thrived institutionally since the post-war expansion of higher education, this book asks whether or not it is poorer for having failed to recognise that statistics provides the foundations for the scientific study of society and for having missed opportunities to build upon those foundations. Ultimately, this important, revealing and timely book is about British sociology’s refusal to come to grips with a modern scientific way of thinking which no discipline that aspires to an effective study of society can afford to ignore.

About the authors

Plamena Panayotova is a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow at The University of Edinburgh. She is currently studying the popularisation of science in Britain since the eighteenth century and teaching quantitative methods and statistical literacy. She has published several studies on the history of sociology and statistics in Britain and edited a collection of essays on the history of sociology. Her broader research interests include the history of science in general and the history of statistics and quantification, in particular, as well as the history of education and learning.

Reviews

“A fascinating analysis of the relationship between sociology and statistics from the nineteenth century onwards, based on original and detailed historical research: the story is a sad one but the book is essential reading for all involved in studying or teaching sociology.” — John H. Goldthorpe FBA, Emeritus Fellow, Nuffield College, University of Oxford, UK

“This book is a work of major scholarship that will long remain a standard history of the always troubled relationship between British sociology and statistics. It gives a critical account that does much to explain how mainstream sociology in Britain has taken the intellectual path that it has.” —Christopher T. Husbands, Emeritus Reader in Sociology, London School of Economics and Political Science, UK

“This is a most timely study of the development of social statistics and sociology in Britain. Covering a broad period, examining a wide variety of academic and professional institutions, and focusing on some of the most luminous figures in the history of social research and social thought in modern Britain, the author traces the complex relationship between counting and theorising in the development of the social sciences. The author questions whether the development of sociology in Britain, while distinctive, is in any way exceptional, and has written a major work which will be of relevance to everyone interested in the sociological tradition.” —Lawrence Goldman, Professor, St. Peter’s College, University of Oxford, UK

Plamena Panayotova has produced a wonderful historical meditation on British sociology’s allergic reaction to statistics, uncovering its deep intellectual roots.” —Stephen Turner, Distinguished University Professor, University of South Florida, USA

Table of contents (15 chapters)

Table of contents (15 chapters)

Buy this book

eBook £71.50
price for United Kingdom (gross)
  • ISBN 978-3-030-55133-9
  • Digitally watermarked, DRM-free
  • Included format: EPUB, PDF
  • ebooks can be used on all reading devices
  • Immediate eBook download after purchase
Hardcover £89.99
price for United Kingdom (gross)
  • ISBN 978-3-030-55132-2
  • Free shipping for individuals worldwide
  • Institutional customers should get in touch with their account manager
  • Covid-19 shipping restrictions & severe weather in the US may cause delays
  • Usually ready to be dispatched within 3 to 5 business days, if in stock

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Bibliographic Information

Bibliographic Information
Book Title
Sociology and Statistics in Britain, 1833–1979
Authors
Copyright
2020
Publisher
Palgrave Macmillan
Copyright Holder
The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG
eBook ISBN
978-3-030-55133-9
DOI
10.1007/978-3-030-55133-9
Hardcover ISBN
978-3-030-55132-2
Edition Number
1
Number of Pages
XXIV, 376
Number of Illustrations
27 b/w illustrations, 2 illustrations in colour
Topics