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Cover for Methods of Discovery

Methods of Discovery

Heuristics for the Social Sciences

Andrew Abbott, Jeffrey C. Alexander (Series edited by)


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Methods of Discovery is organized around strategies for deepening arguments in order to find the best ways to study social phenomena.

Abbott helps social science students discover what questions to ask. This exciting book is not about habits and the mechanics of doing social science research, but about habits of thinking that enable students to use those mechanics in new ways, by coming up with new ideas and combining them more effectively with old ones.

Abbott organizes his book around general methodological moves, and uses examples from throughout the social sciences to show how these moves can open new lines of thinking. In each chapter, he covers several moves and their reverses (if these exist), discussing particular examples of the move as well as its logical and theoretical structure. Often he goes on to propose applications of the move in a wide variety of empirical settings. The basic aim of Methods of Discovery is to offer readers a new way of thinking about directions for their research and new ways to imagine information relevant to their research problems.

Methods of Discovery is part of the Contemporary Societies series.

W. W. Norton & Company, 9780393978148, 261pp.

Publication Date: February 2, 2004

About the Author

Andrew Abbott is Professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of Chicago. He is the author, most recently, of Chaos of Disciplines and Time Matters: On Theory and Method, both from the University of Chicago Press. The recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, Professor Abbott has written and lectured widely on occupations and professions, social science methods, social theory, and the history of the Chicago School of Sociology.